D-Backs focus on pitching in '06 Draft
Arizona selects 13 hurlers among its 18 picks on Day 1
PHOENIX -- If there's a word that characterizes the initial day of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft for the Diamondbacks, it's pitching, pitching and, well, more pitching.
If there was an acknowledged strength in this draft, it was college pitching. Combine that with the Diamondbacks need for pitching depth in their system and you get what happened on Tuesday, with Arizona spending 13 of its 18 picks on arms.
"Seeing that our farm system is pretty well stocked with a good inventory of position players, we felt it would behoove us to go after more pitching than not," vice president of scouting Mike Rizzo said.
This is the second year in a row the Diamondbacks have executed a strategy like that, as they spent 34 of their 54 picks last year on pitchers.
After selecting Missouri right-hander Max Scherzer with their first pick (11th overall), the Diamondbacks nabbed Georgia right-hander Brooks Brown with a sandwich pick (No. 34 overall) that they received as compensation for the Giants signing pitcher Tim Worrell. At 6-feet-3, 205 pounds, Brown fits the mold of the kind of pitcher Rizzo likes to go after -- big, strong, hard throwers.
"A big physical right-handed pitcher," Rizzo said of Brown. "A starter. Has a propensity to strike batters out. He's your prototypical power pitcher up to 94 mph with a power slider and a good changeup. We see him as a rotation starter in the future and a guy we're happy to add to the inventory."
In the second round, the D-Backs broke with their tendency to draft collegians and selected left-hander Brett Anderson from Stillwater (Okla.) High School. Anderson is the son of Oklahoma State University head baseball coach Frank Anderson.
"A very polished high school left-handed pitcher," Rizzo said. "Son of a college coach, really knows his craft. His stuff is good and we think he's got a high ceiling."
Anderson was 9-0 with a 0.37 ERA in 12 games this season. He struck out 102 and walked just nine in 57 innings.
The Diamondbacks rolled the dice with their third-round pick as they chose Oregon State right-hander Dallas Buck. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has had some arm problems that might require surgery, but if he's able to bounce back as other pitchers have, he'll be a bargain.
"A high profile college pitcher at Oregon State," Rizzo said of Buck. "He's got great stuff. He's a great athlete was a defensive safety at Oregon State early in his college career and then wound up pitching only. He's a sinker-slider guy with a lot of guts and we think he's a big-time rotation starter."
The Diamondbacks chose their first position player, University of Southern California outfielder Cyle Hankerd, with their second selection in the third round (87th overall).
"He hit third at USC and had tremendous numbers at a big-time program," Rizzo said. "This school produces a lot of big-league players and this guy is a polished hitter that can hit with power."
The D-Backs think they got a steal with their fourth-round pick when they were able to select right-hander Bryant Thompson from Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College.
"He might have as much power in his arm as anyone from our sandwich pick down," Rizzo said. "He's throwing up to 95 mph. Our scout Mike Valarezo happens to live in Pensacola, and a lot of guys didn't know about him and see him, and this guy has a big upside and we were really happy to get this guy."
Here's a look at the other players Arizona selected on Tuesday:
5th round -- Hector Ambriz, RHP, UCLA: Ambriz also hit cleanup for the Bruins this past year, but the D-Backs see his future as a pitcher.
6th round -- Joey Side, OF, University of Georgia: An intense player that Rizzo describes as "A very classic kind of offensive center fielder."
7th round -- Daniel Strange, RHP UC-Riverside: A closer in college, Strange has a low 90s fastball, hard slider and plus changeup.
8th round -- Chase Christianson, RHP, South Alabama: Christianson has touched 94 mph on the radar gun.
9th round -- Eddie Romero, LHP, Fresno State: Romero according to Baseball America is a "deceptive lefty."
10th round -- Tony Barnette, RHP, Arizona State: Rizzo described him as being, "the kind of guy we like, a character guy that we like to have in the organization."
11th round -- Daniel Fournier, RHP, Franklin Pierce College: Another big right-hander at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds.
12th round -- Andrew Fie, INF, Lake Worth Florida Trinity Christian Academy: The first infielder and initial high school position player taken by the D-Backs.
13th round -- John Hester, C, Stanford: Hester hit .274 with 12 doubles for the Cardinal during the regular season.
14th round -- Chad Beck, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette: Beck throws a fastball in the low 90s.
15th round -- Matt Oxendine, INF, North Florida: Oxendine is the school's all-time leader in doubles with (56).
16th round -- Blake Sharpe, INF, Southern California: Sharpe hit .323 for the Trojans in 2006.
17th round -- Brett Reynolds, RHP, Missouri: Reynolds appeared in nine games and had a 4.50 ERA for the Tigers.
18th round -- Brad Miller, INF, Ball State: Miller led the MAC with 21 homers in 2006.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.