D-backs happy with bounty of bats

D-backs happy with bounty of bats

PHOENIX -- Diversification is important when building a financial portfolio, and it was also key to what the Arizona Diamondbacks tried to do with their bounty of picks in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Thanks to the departures of Orlando Hudson, Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz, the D-backs found themselves with an extra first-round pick, three compensation-round selections and an additional second-round selection.

Over the three days of the Draft, the D-backs selected 55 players and tried to find a balance between players with higher upsides and the inherent risks that go with that and players that may have a lower ceiling, but are more polished and safer bets to fulfill that potential.

Their first two picks in the Draft are perfect examples of that.

At No. 16 overall, the D-backs selected Bobby Borchering, a Florida high school third baseman. The switch-hitter has tremendous power potential and has been likened to Braves star Chipper Jones. Of course, any time you project what an 18-year-old will be like three or four years from now, there is a certain amount of risk involved.

With their second pick in the first round (No. 17 overall) the D-backs selected Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock. While Pollock might not excite scouts as much as Borchering, he is more of a finished product as a player and therefore a bit of a safer pick.

In recent years, the D-backs' Drafts have been heavy on pitching, and with a lack of impact bats in their farm system, adding some through the Draft was a priority.

"No question we had targeted some bats as something that we wanted to bring in," D-backs scouting director Tom Allison said. "And the bats that we liked happened to be there when we selected."

D-backs -- Top five selections
Pick
POS
Name
School
163BRobert BorcheringBishop Verot HS
17CFAllen PollockU Notre Dame
353BMatthew DavidsonYucaipa HS
41SSChristopher OwingsGilbert HS
45LHPMichael BelfioreBoston Col
Complete D-backs Draft results >

In that regard, they spent eight of their first 10 picks on position players.

The D-backs tweaked their scouting process this year, blurring the lines between pro and amateur scouts so as to get as many different looks at players as possible. It's an approach that teams commonly used more than a decade ago, but since then, scouting staffs have become more specialized.

"We all know that there are many disagreements, but we weren't disagreeable," Allison said. "We had different ways that we saw players, but we understood that our opinion isn't always the best, that it's multitude opinions. When you get three people to look at a player instead of one, you're going to make better decisions."

The next step is, of course, to get the players under contract. No team ever signs all of its Draftees, but the D-backs feel confident in their ability to get a good percentage of their early-round selections under contract.

There has been some talk that Pollock and Davidson have agreed to terms, but Allison stopped just short of saying that.

"I think progressing in a positive manner is the best way to put it," he said. "Good correspondence back and forth."

Borchering is being advised by SFX Sports, and the D-backs are optimistic they will be able to reach an agreement. Christopher Owings, the 41st overall pick from Gilbert (S.C.) High School may be a challenging sign as he is committed to the University of South Carolina. It also remains to be seen whether infielder Matthew Helm from Hamilton (Ariz.) High School will sign, as he slipped to the seventh round due to a pair of injuries this past season.

Several of the college seniors that were selected as well as some later-round picks have already agreed to terms, Allison said, but the club does not want to release their names until they actually sign contracts. That should come soon, as many were already en route to Arizona for this weekend's minicamp.

The D-backs will give physicals to players Friday and then they will begin minicamp Saturday at the team's Spring Training facility in Tucson, Ariz., where the team's development staff can get a look at them and determine their initial Minor League assignments.

One of those will be Duke's Tim Sherlock, son of bench coach Glenn Sherlock, who was a proud father in the clubhouse prior to Thursday's game accepting congratulations from D-backs players.

Interestingly, Tim Sherlock was working as an instructor in one of the D-backs Training Center camps at the time of his selection.

Sherlock was not the only familiar name taken by the D-backs, who selected former slugger Matt Williams' son Jacob in the 29th round. Jacob Williams, a first baseman, will likely go to college instead. He has a scholarship offer from the University of San Diego.

In addition, the D-backs picked Taylor Wrenn, son of scout Luke Wrenn, in the 25th round.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.