D-Backs take righty Scherzer at No. 11
Club impressed with hard-throwing pitcher's demeanor
PHOENIX -- Starting on Monday, when word began to circulate that left-hander Andrew Miller would not go No. 1 to the Royals, it threw some draft boards into a bit of disarray.
The Diamondbacks, though, were ready for just such an occurrence, and wasted no time when their pick rolled around at No. 11 to select Missouri right-hander Max Scherzer.
"We had the all the scenarios mapped out and figured out," D-Backs vice president of scouting Mike Rizzo said. "We were prepared no matter who fell or who didn't. We had it all covered."
Scherzer was projected to go near the top of the draft earlier this year before a couple of minor injuries caused him to slip a bit. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder slammed a door on the middle finger of his pitching hand and had a case of biceps tendinitis during the season, which cost him about three weeks.
"[He has] a power arm," Rizzo said. "He's a big strong physical right-handed pitcher with a tough good makeup demeanor on the mound. He's got a power fastball, a good breaking ball, and we think he's on the upside of his career."
With a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-to-upper 90s before the tendinitis, a plus sinker and a hard-nosed competitive makeup, Scherzer was seen by some scouts as projecting as a closer.
The Diamondbacks don't see it that way.
"We think he's got the repertoire to start and we feel like he's a starting pitcher," Rizzo said.
Scherzer told the Kansas City Star recently that the tendinitis is no longer an issue for him.
"I'm totally over that," Scherzer said. "All I needed was rest. There really wasn't any special treatment I needed to do. Tons of pitchers get tendinitis. I'm not the only one. I'm just a normal pitcher."
Scherzer was named the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year after leading the Big 12 in ERA (1.86) and strikeouts (131) in 2005. This season, he is 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA in 13 games (12 starts). The Chesterfield, Mo., native has held opposing hitters to a .204 batting average and struck out 72 while walking 23 in 73 2/3 innings.
Missouri qualified for its first NCAA College Regional this season and advanced to the Super Regionals, where it will take on Cal State Fullerton.
Scherzer is represented by agent Scott Boras, who has been notoriously difficult for clubs to deal with, but the Diamondbacks have never shied away from a Boras client. Two years ago, when shortstop Stephen Drew slipped to them at No. 15, they nabbed him and worked out a deal with Boras just prior to the following year's deadline. Last year's No. 11 pick received $1.9 million and the slot figure is expected to be right around there this year.
"Like we always do we tried to take the best player on the board without regard to who his representative is," Rizzo said. "This is a guy we wanted to get in the system. He was the guy that fit for us at 11 and that's why we took him."
Scherzer was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 43rd round in 2003, but elected to attend Missouri instead.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.