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
Let’s take a look through the roster by position:
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.
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.
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
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.
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).