The Arizona Diamondbacks went into the 2011 MLB draft with what seemed like a perfect plan of attack: build a starting rotation for the future. We all know that most teams plans go out the window at some point in the draft but the pieces seemed to fall in place for the Diamondbacks, that is, unless they did not plan this, in which case they must be thanking God right now because they may have had the best draft this year.
With their first pick they took UCLA 6’1” 180 pound right-hander Trevor Bauer, a Tim Lincecum clone due to his size, delivery, and similar stuff, although comparing anyone to a two-time Cy Young award winner is unfair. Bauer was my favorite pitcher in this draft. He will be a quick riser through the Arizona system and has lights-out stuff. He 92-94 and can touch 97 on occasion. When Keith Law scouted him he hit 95 in both the first inning and ninth inning of his start. He also has a plus curveball that he can throw both hard and soft, a change-up, split finger, and slider. When asked by MLB Network he said he throws four pitches but throws each one at least two different ways. He has ace potential and the only concerns are that his build and workload may put him at risk of injury but we heard the same concern with Lincecum and it dropped him in the draft. Arizona was not willing to let that happen here.
With their second pick in the first seven picks they took high school right-hander Archie Bradley who has a strong commitment to Oklahoma to play quarterback. There are a lot of scouts that had Bradley ranked ahead of Bauer overall. Both have similar stuff but Bradley has the prototypical starter’s build. At 6’4” and 225 pounds he still has some projection left and currently was sitting 90-95 with more velocity at the end of the spring, reaching 97 at times. Scouts love his delivery and believe he could have plus command and control in time to go with a hard curveball that grades out to above-average already and a passable change that has the ability to be above-average. He has future ace potential.
The Diamondbacks next pick, after having the 3rd and 7th overall picks, was at 43 and they took Kent State left-hander Andrew Chafin. Chafin underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and came back showing little-to-no effects of the surgery. He was sitting 91-93 most of the spring and a few scouts had him hit 94-95 at times. He has a potential above-average curveball and a slider that probably will be ditched or used as a “get me over” first pitch strike if he can command it. He rarely uses the change-up and will need to refine it to stay in the rotation but he has easy #3 starter stuff with potential to be better.
Arizona’s next pick was at 63 and they took a guy that I am a huge fan of and would have popped at 43 in Anthony Meo. Some scouts see this right-hander as a dominant reliever but I see a potential #2 starter in this kid. He sits 92-95 although Law had him sitting 93-96 and touching 97 when he scouted him. He throws a hard slider that Law says was 86-90 but some believe that was his cutter and that his slider sits 84-85 that has potential to be plus. He has a change-up that is below-average now and needs work to become average. Even with a good fastball, slider, and cutter, there are teams that view him as a reliever until he can get that change-up working. I still see him as a starter but the need for a change-up is key to help get left-handed batters out in the future.
The Diamondbacks went bold in the 10th round and took Texas Christian right-hander Kyle Winkler. Winkler is another small pitcher, listed at 5’11” and right around 200 pounds with no projection left. Some scouts see him as a reliever but, again, I think he has starter potential. He sits 91-94 and has touched 96 with an above-average slider and a two-seam fastball. He does not have a legit third pitch yet and his delivery shows a lot of effort, all signs pointing to him being a reliever but if the Diamondbacks can get him to develop a change-up he is a potential #3-4 starter.
Not one of these pitchers ranked outside of Keith Law’s top 50 overall draft prospects with Chafin being the lowest at 47. The odds are slim on all five of these pitchers figuring it out but the upside is there and potential for each one to be in the Big League rotation down the road. Add these guys to an already stellar group of young pitchers like Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs, Daniel Hudson, and Ian Kennedy and the Diamondbacks should be very happy about their future rotation.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert
Filed under: Draft Coverage, On the Farm - Prospects | Tagged: Andrew Chafin, Anthony Meo, Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks, Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, Jarrod Parker, Kyle Winkler, Tim Lincecum, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs | Leave a Comment »