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November 24, 1997

Diamondbacks Expansion Draft Analysis

We rate Arizona's expansion draft performance

by Gary Huckabay

The Diamondbacks did a fair to middling job in the draft. There were a lot of missed opportunities, and a couple of inexplicable acquisitions before the dust settled, but by and large, they did a passable job, and far better than the atrocities against humanity committed by Chuck LaMar in the name of the Devil Rays.

Let's take a look through the roster by position:

Outfielders

Yamil Benitez
Brent Brede
David Dellucci
Karim Garcia
Harvey Pulliam
Devon White

White will obviously start in CF, which at this late date is not a good idea. White's range on defense has dropped, and his offensive skills, which were average for years, have dropped down into defensive-replacement calibre. There were better options available in the draft. Garcia and Dellucci are the two best ballplayers here, and both have the potential to be stars. Garcia's a low-OBP slugger, and Dellucci's a Rusty Greer-type player who could hold down CF in a pinch. Benitez has some power, but doesn't have anything else to offer. Given this crop, I'd start Garcia in RF, Dellucci in CF, trade White for whatever minimum salary I could get, and cherry-pick the minor league and Rule V drafts, which will certainly have better options than Devo.

Infielders

Tony Batista
Jay Bell
Edwin Diaz
Hanley Frias
Travis Fryman
Travis Lee

An infield of Fryman/Bell/Batista/Lee could easily be the best in the NL West in '98. Batista and Lee could both have very surprising years. Batista is still young, fantastic with the glove, and has demonstrated the ability to hit for power and average in the minors. Bell is a consistent shortstop, and Fryman is an average hitter who chips in some good glovework at third. Park effects of playing in the high, dry air of Phoenix will likely make this bunch one of the best-looking infields in baseball.

Catchers

Jorge Fabregas
Damian Miller

Yecch. There were probably fifteen better options available in the expansion draft than both of these guys. [Doug Mirabelli, George Williams, Creighton Gubanich, etc.] Fabregas can't hit, and primarily for that reason, has an exaggerated reputation for handling pitchers. Never mind that all the pitchers he's handled haven't developed or performed any better while he's behind the plate. Miller hit well in his third year in Salt Lake City this year, at age 27. Both could be released before spring training with no damage to the club whatsoever.

Pitchers

Joel Adamson
Brian Anderson
Hector Carrasco
Chris Clemons
Omar Daal
Todd Erdos
Marty Janzen
Cory Lidle
Tom Martin
Felix Rodriguez
Clint Sodowsky
Russ Springer
Jeff Suppan
Bob Wolcott

A solid bunch of arms. Anderson, Suppan, and Daal all have a chance to be top-echelon starters. Other than that, this is a good bunch of pitchers drafted by an organization that understands that pitching prospects are inherently unpredictable. Without fail, they grabbed a pitcher that has a chance to be very good; each has been labelled a prospect at some point, and all have pretty good stuff. In particular, Lidle could turn in a fine career similar to Eric Plunk's. Sodowsky, Martin, Erdos, and Rodriguez are all likely to pan out to some degree, and Marty Janzen could succeed as either a starter or reliever.

Review

Overall, the D-backs had a decent but not spectacular draft. A lot of available talent was ignored, and the emphasis on pitching, although popular with conventional wisdom, probably wasn't a good idea. The strategy should have been to maximize the total value of the players on the team, and there were a lot of excellent position players available or probably available who were not selected (speculation most notably on Frank Catalanotto and Tom Evans).

Gary Huckabay is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Gary's other articles. You can contact Gary by clicking here

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