The Diamondbacks have selected Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick in the 2015 Rule 4 amateur draft. Swanson ranked atop the draft prospect leaderboard compiled by Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, also ranking second among draft prospects according to MLB.com and Baseball America, while placing third on the Top 100 of ESPN’s Keith Law. Despite the fact that he was not seen as the consensus No. 1 talent by each of those outlets, Swanson was projected to go first overall by each, as the D-Backs are believed to have had their eye on him for quite some time.
Scouting reports peg Swanson as a strong candidate to remain at shortstop and praise both his speed and on-base skills, making him a candidate to hit at the top of a Major League batting order. While he doesn’t currently project as a major home run threat, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis at MLB.com note that he presently has gap power and outstanding makeup. BA writes that Swanson can hit the ball to all fields, and the main question about him defensively is whether or not he has a plus arm. (Regardless, BA notes that most expect him to stay at shortstop.)
Law notes that Swanson has more power than collegiate shortstop peers Alex Bregman (LSU) and Kevin Newman (Arizona), both of whom also project as first-round picks. His colleagues Eric Longenhagen and Chris Crawford wrote a lengthier scouting report opining that Swanson could eventually develop 15 to 20 home run power to go along with his speed. Back in April, McDaniel called him a plus runner with 10- to 13-homer power that is also a plus runner — a nice No. 6-10 pick in most drafts but a more appealing commodity in this, a thin draft class.
The No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft comes with a slot value of $8,616,900, though the Diamondbacks don’t have to spend the entirety of that sum on Swanson. In fact, based on most reports, it seems unlikely that they will. Swanson will add a top-tier prospect to a D-Backs farm system that is fronted by right-handed pitchers Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair, Touki Toussaint and Yoan Lopez. His addition gives the team a high-ceiling position player to join that quartet of promising pitchers. It is of further significance, because Swanson represents the first selection made under general manager Dave Stewart, senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson and scouting director Deric Ladnier, each of whom is new to their position and to the D-Backs organization.