When you look back at the 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks draft, there are quite a few storylines that jump off the page at you.
The Diamondbacks had eight selections over an 80-pick span from No. 16 in the first round to No. 95 in the third round – including a pair of first-round selections, a trio of supplemental picks and two second-round choices. Six of those eight – and 12 overall – reached the majors, although the team’s first overall pick peaked at Double-A. And of the 12 with big league time, six are playing significant roles in 2017.
The Diamondbacks had two opportunities to draft high school outfielder Mike Trout – he went to the Angels as part of their draft haul that same year – but opted instead to take a high school third baseman and a college outfielder.
While Trout has turned out to be the best player in that draft class, the second-best player has been Paul Goldschmidt, who the Diamondbacks did pick … in the eighth round … with their 13th pick … and as the draft’s 246th overall selection.
Before there’s any uproar – as in, “How could they have missed on Mike Trout?” – consider that if future success could have been accurately predicted for the New Jersey prep or for Goldschmidt (then a first baseman for the Texas State University Bobcats), then both would have been long gone before the Diamondbacks’ turn to pick. There are no crystal balls with the draft.
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In 2009, Tom Allison was in his third year as Arizona’s scouting director. His previous drafts were of the “routine” variety, but this one was going to be very different thanks to all of the extra selections.
The Diamondbacks picked up an extra first-round pick and a supplemental pick as compensation for the loss of free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They added a supplemental pick and a second-round selection for the loss of reliever Juan Cruz to Kansas City. They picked up a third supplemental first-rounder as a result of Detroit’s signing of closer Brandon Lyon.
The additional picks didn’t come as an accident; the Diamondbacks’ brain trust began planning for this draft two years earlier.
“It was 2007 when we first started talking about this,” said Allison – who oversaw four drafts for the Diamondbacks and is now in his fifth season as Seattle’s vice president of scouting. The “we” Allison referred to includes general manager Josh Byrnes, pro scouting director Jerry DiPoto, assistant GM Peter Woodfork and player development director A.J. Hinch. “Our ’07 team made the playoffs, but we knew we had some impending free agent decisions to make. Knowing where that roster management of your big league team was going to take you, it was always … hmmm, this could be really interesting in 2009 with some extra picks.
“The dialogue continued through 2008. That’s why we went ahead and brought Adam Dunn in.” The Diamondbacks obtained Dunn in an August 2008 trade with Cincinnati for pitchers Dallas Buck and Micah Owings and outfielder Wilkin Castillo. “This was a timeframe when some of the philosophy was you have these free agents … we were making a playoff push … then hey, we’re probably going to get two more picks for Adam Dunn. Of course, that didn’t happen; we ended up not making him an offer.
“Juan Cruz didn’t end up signing with the Royals until after spring training had started. Now in the scouting world, we were already preparing, so we didn’t know for sure until the first week of March how many additional picks we would have.”
The front office group discussed different alternatives to effectively utilize the club’s scouts – eventually utilizing an “all-hands-on-deck” approach.
“We had a lot of conversations,” Allison said, “and we came up with what some guys called a hybrid plan. The bottom line is … baseball has created a separation of scouts – pro, amateur, international – but what we kept coming back to was let’s just get our best evaluators to the ballpark and let them see those players.”
Three of Arizona’s pro scouts – Joe Bohringer, Tim Schmidt and Mike Piatnik – were added to the amateur scouting team for draft preparation, while Helen Zelman, an MIT-trained statistics analyst, took over the reins as the amateur scouting coordinator.
“What Helen was able to do was show me how we could maximize our looks and be more efficient,” Allison said. “Everybody’s trying to do that, but I will tell you that what she brought to me was a really different way to look at things; it was about how to schedule.
“So much in the scouting world, we can’t help but be very reactive to it. ‘Hey, this guy’s throwing really good. We have to go see him.’ You’re very reactionary as the season progresses. I call it ‘getting on the hamster wheel.’ You can’t stop from doing it. After we knew we had these picks, Jerry, myself, and Helen sat in a room and mapped out all of the weekends of the season. We really took a look at where our follows were and used those dates, knowing when it was going to be a good time to see a lot of players. For instance, this was going to be a big weekend – so we worked backwards from that and filled in the gaps throughout the week with other games. Some of the weekends were high school tournaments as well. It really put the emphasis on the quality and quantity of our looks.”
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Allison’s previous two Diamondbacks drafts were pitching heavy – and included the selections of future big leaguers Jarrod Parker, Josh Collmenter, Tommy Layne and Evan Scribner in 2007 and Daniel Schlereth, Wade Miley, Bryan Shaw and Ryan Cook in 2008.
This time, with all the extra selections, it gave Allison the flexibility to utilize a portfolio manager approach as a drafting philosophy.
“I’ve always looked at being in the scouting director’s position like you’re the stock broker,” he said. “You’re the wealth manager who is going to take and create that portfolio for your organization. To be successful, you have to diversify. You have to be able to take the high risk and then balance it with maybe somewhat of a lower risk. For every extreme that you might take on one pick, then you want to try and follow that up with a little bit more of what you can term as a less risky pick. They’re all risky; I will admit that freely. Sometimes that isn’t high school vs. college, but that might be a less risky demographic compared to a higher risk demographic.
“That was one thing even in ’07 … we took the high school right-hander in Jarrod Parker, and then to follow up, you take a couple of college pitchers after that. Both are risky demographics; however, you’re trying to back it up with one and then the other.
“As we set out for ’09, the famous guys were playing themselves out of our reach; they weren’t going to get to us. Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Crow, Grant Green, Mike Minor … they had a lot of performance history, and those were the ones that really separated themselves.”
Allison then laid out the different scenarios that he was looking at with the 16th and 17th selections.
“We used lanes, so to speak, in setting everything up,” he said. “Here are the lanes of your high school bats that we like … and your high school arms … and your college arms … and then your college bats as well.”
- In one lane, using the high-risk/high-reward analogy, the team strongly paid attention to high school bats – with Allison mentioning Bobby Borchering, Mike Trout and Nick Franklin.
- The club was looking at “up the middle” players, in Jiovanni Mier, Chris Owings, Billy Hamilton, Slade Heathcott and LeVon Washington.
- A slew of high school catchers were strongly considered – including Steven Baron, Tommy Joseph, Wil Myers and Max Stassi – but ultimately weren’t picked because of where those players slotted in relation to the club’s overall draft board.
- Pitchers that piqued Allison’s curiosity included Missouri’s Kyle Gibson – who was selected at No. 22 by Minnesota – and several who never got to the Diamondbacks (No. 8 Mike Leake, No. 9 Jacob Turner, No. 15 Alex White).
As the names started coming off the draft board and the time came for Arizona to pick back-to-back at 16-17, the decision was made to take a high-risk high school bat followed by a lower-risk college outfielder. In succession, Allison selected Bobby Borchering, a third baseman out of Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla., and Notre Dame centerfielder A.J. Pollock.
“With Bobby, it went back to that summer before with the Junior USA team; we had seen so much of him,” Allison said. “We all really thought that the switch-hitting power, third base, it was like ‘Wow.’ It stood out in so many ways. I think on Bobby Borchering, we had 12 looks by different evaluators. Everybody came back with the same feeling: ‘Man, this guy’s going to really hit. He’s going to hit with power and he’s going to play third base.’
“We take the high school player here at 16. Now, who are we going to back it up with? There were a couple of teams ahead of us that we heard had conversations about Pollock, so we were happy when he was there for us. Pollock was a guy that I will tell you – we had so much history with him. Mike Daughtry, our area scout, knew him inside and out. We knew he could run. We knew he could play centerfield.
“How much power was going to be there? We did have a few questions on that, but we had a pre-draft workout that A.J. came to – and he really showed raw power. He was freer in his approach with a wood bat in his hands. Everybody has always asked me, ‘Did you see the power in there?’ We didn’t until that day, at least in my mind and as an organization, but this guy does have real power. Obviously, the person he is and the tools that he had were going to allow him to be a really impactful top of the order centerfielder.”
Because Borchering never made it to the majors, he’s considered a whiff. But it was not considered a reach by the Diamondbacks to call his name; he was highly thought of.
In his first three full minor league seasons (2010-2012), Borchering hit 63 homers and drove in 252 runs. But it was the swing-and-miss that did him in; over that same three-year span, he fanned 449 times. He did help the Diamondbacks in a way, though, netting the team Chris Johnson in a 2012 July deadline deal with Houston.
“We did our work and we felt real comfortable with this selection,” Allison said. “We knew the player; our area scout, Ray Blanco, and our cross-checker, Greg Lonigro, had a good relationship with him. In our opinion, he was going to be that middle-of-the-order third baseman. It just didn’t work out.”
Pollock was highly thought of, too, and did work out – going to the All-Star Game in 2015 and winning a Gold Glove Award.
But with picks 16 and 17, Allison passed on a very specific centerfielder from Millville Senior High School in New Jersey.
“I’ve very much stayed consistent with what I’ve said about Mike Trout,” he said. “Right off the bat, let me say that our scouts – Shawn Barton and Matt Merullo – loved this guy. (Pro scout) Joe Bohringer was from the same high school. We knew how much this guy’s persona and this guy’s character were just going to be fabulous. I’ve always tipped my hat to Mike individually, too. He was the only player to go to MLB Studios that year. It shows how much this guy loved the game.
“But here was a northern state player who was just a little bit more raw in his overall baseball repetitions. How he held the bat, the pitching that he saw … it was just a little bit further behind some of the other players that had more reps under their belts. The first time I saw Mike, I was completely on board with this guy by far being the best athlete in the draft.
“What always concerned me was just his pure swing. The first time I saw it, I was not as concerned. As a matter of fact, even after that, I touched base with his agents to see where they were. ‘Hey, this guy … he’s as advertised. He wants to go play. He’s not going to go to East Carolina. He wants to be a pro baseball player.’ Just kind of touched base and he was very much alive in our conversations for one of our two picks.”
As has been well documented, Allison returned to the region later in the spring to see Steven Matz (who the Mets selected 72nd overall). Matz’s game was rained out, so Allison got in the car and headed to see Trout play again.
“At that time, it’s a little bit more along in the draft season,” Allison said. “He still wasn’t making the adjustments. I still saw some of the rawness to the bat. I just had a little bit more hesitation of where he fit compared to Borchering and Pollock.
“And then there’s that demographic. He was a right-handed hitting middle of the field player and a high school player. At that time, you were looking around and that demographic wasn’t showing up. (Evan) Longoria, (Ryan) Braun, (Albert) Pujols, (Jose) Bautista … the better right-handed hitters from the States that were in the game all had gone to college. That helped kind of sway me the other way.
“Lessons learned going back on it … We knew the player inside and out. We did know about the athlete. We did know – and I’m from the north and grew up in a very cold state – that it was just the amount of repetitions that he needed to go through. It happened quickly, because that’s what happens to really good athletes, really smart baseball players. And that’s of course what happened with Mike.”
If Borchering made it to the majors and became just an average player, one might just wax over questioning this selection.
“No doubt,” Allison said. “Did we think that Mike was going to be an aircraft carrier? He’s a franchise player. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime guy.
“You look back now and I see him, and I put all those other pieces together. His father had played in pro baseball. He knew what it was going to be about. He had that unmeasurable character and that love of the game. Every time that we would be there to see him, ‘Oh, you guys want to see me hit? … You guys want me to hit ground balls?’ He just loved the game. When you look at it now, put it together with those electric tools that he had … it looks a whole lot easier to say, ‘This plus this was going to equal this.’
“All the credit to Eddie Bane and the Angels staff for pulling the trigger and having more information and the foresight to see what Mike Trout was going to become.”
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After the back-to-back picks, Allison and the Diamondbacks had a few minutes to regroup for their trio of supplemental selections.
One by one, players that were high on their board were being selected. Jiovanni Mier (No. 21, Houston) … Kyle Gibson (No. 22, Minnesota) … Trout (No. 25, Angels) … four middle-of-the-field players in succession at 27-30 (Nick Franklin to Seattle, Reymond Fuentes to Boston, Slade Heathcott to the Yankees, LeVon Washington to Tampa Bay) … one of the top catchers on their board, Steven Baron (No. 33, Seattle).
“When we got towards picks 35 and 41, what we tried to do was kind of map out – ‘OK, what’s the best-case scenario coming out of this?’ This is again when you’re leaning on your people,” Allison said.
“Our area scout in southern California was Jeff Mousser. He had both Matt Davidson and Nolan Arenado in his territory that year. We liked them both; we really thought both of them were going to hit, and we thought both of them could stay at third base. They were great makeup guys. Davidson … when you got to know him, his favorite team was the Diamondbacks. He came to our workouts, as did Arenado. They were both really good players.
“As we were going back and forth, another guy we really liked here was Tyler Skaggs. We talked about Wil Myers. We talked about Chris Owings. Tommy Joseph. Skaggs was the one pitcher we really thought we could get. That was the cluster that we were really into at that point.”
At No. 35, the Diamondbacks chose Davidson – a right-handed hitting third baseman out of Yucaipa (Calif.) High School. Davidson has been a late developer, seeing a lot of action this season at third base, first base and designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox.
“Matt was a very accomplished high school player in the Area Code games. He was in a lot of the showcases, and his right-handed swing and power was something very, very intriguing,” Allison said. “We had a scout, Tim Schmidt, who lived in the area. Between Tim, (Western Regional supervisor) Bobby Minor and Jeff Mousser, we just got to know this guy so well. We really thought he could come on. I still think Matt, given the opportunity – as you’re seeing now – is going to continue to hit and hit with power.”
Allison was asked if he considered selecting Arenado with one of the other supplemental selections.
“That’s a great question, because now you’re thinking … we have these two third basemen. Are we going to take another one? The one thing that I’ve learned over my years is you take the best available player and you will find places for them to play,” he said.
“I learned that from the three third basemen that the Astros had early in their careers. You had Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti and Luis Gonzalez all at third base. I remember hearing Art Howe tell the story, ‘Oh, Caminiti you throw the best. You stay here. Luis, you’re the best athlete and can run around, you go to the outfield. Bagwell, you don’t throw as well. You go over to first.’ So bottom line, (Arenado) was in consideration, but we talked about what other directions we could go. And at 41, that’s where we ended up with Owings.”
At 40, the Angels took a player off of Arizona’s wish list by selecting Skaggs. So the Diamondbacks went with another prep position player – Chris Owings, a 17-year-old shortstop from Gilbert (SC) High School.
“Owings is a fascinating story in so many ways,” Allison said. “He wasn’t as famous industry wide as maybe some of the other shortstops in that draft, but our area scout – George Swain – had known the Owings family and Chris for a long time. I remember the story that spring where we didn’t have an opportunity for our general manager to see him. Josh Byrnes had gone in to see (Vanderbilt pitcher) Mike Minor throw at South Carolina. George – doing what really good area scouts do – said, ‘Hey, I’ll bring (Owings) over and he can at least meet you and talk to you.
“Here’s an area scout that goes above and beyond to make sure that the player he really likes – and we like as an organization – comes over to the ballpark. I remember Josh calling me afterwards going, ‘There’s this beautiful new ballpark here at South Carolina. They’re going to the College World Series all the time. They’re developing really good players. Why is it that this player wants to go out and play pro ball and not be a part of this?’
“Chris in pure Chris Owings fashion answered all the questions the proper way. He told Josh how much he wanted to start his pro career right away. He told him, ‘I’ll be out at the workout. I’m coming and you’ll get a chance to see more of me at that time.’ Chris could really run. He had quickness. We thought he could stay at shortstop, and he had really good power. Chris was a really easy pick.”
Allison then turned his attention to pitching, selecting Boston College left-hander Mike Belfiore – who had a cup of coffee with Baltimore in 2012 – at No. 45 and University of Rhode Island right-hander Eric Smith at No. 60.
“Smith was more of … it’s not always the high school player that’s more risky; this was a lower level D-1 school,” Allison said of the pitcher, who peaked at the Double-A level. “He hadn’t thrown a lot. He was a northern guy. We felt he had some upside. As far as portfolio play, this was probably more of a risk pick for us at that time, but we really felt the upside was certainly worth it.
“There’s always the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. That’s the beauty of what we do. Sometimes I think about the risk of the high school bat vs. the risk of some of the medical on a college pitcher or a college position player. I think to myself, ‘You’re managing both. Which is riskier?’ I liked the process that we used to get there to implement it. Revisionist history is the easiest part, but when you’re in the middle of it, I knew we were prepared. Our process was in really good shape, and we were balancing it.
“Smith was a risk play. That’s why right behind him, we took Marc Krauss at pick 64. He was a major college proven position player. He played in the Cape. We had plenty of information and history; he hit with power, he could play a position.” Krauss, who attended Ohio University, went on to appear in 146 games for four big league clubs from 2013-2015.
“With Krauss, we balanced the portfolio with a less riskier pick,” Allison continued. “That allowed us to really let our hair down as far as that goes – and the real risk pick was Keon Broxton.” He was drafted at No. 95 out of Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla.
“He was a tremendous athlete, but there were lots of blanks that had to be filled in,” Allison said of Broxton. “When is this guy going to hit? Does he have the skillset to play in the middle of the field at the highest level? We certainly projected him to get there, but he was a risk pick. But it’s your eighth pick overall. You’re feeling pretty comfortable about it. Kudos to not only Luke Wrenn, who was the area scout, but all of those who have worked with Keon. It has taken him awhile to really settle in and become an everyday player with Milwaukee.”
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Getting to the major leagues is not easy.
When a team loads up on extra high-round picks and has a bunch of selections at the top of the draft, the chances of hitting on some players dramatically increases.
That said, history shows that there is typically a serious drop-off from that point forward. Teams with extra picks usually get a solid percentage of those players to the majors, but have a very low success rate after the top few rounds.
Allison knew that history. He was determined that this wouldn’t be the case.
“We had all of these picks that were in the top 100,” he said, “and we wanted to make our splash there, but it was important for myself and all of our supervisors and leaders in the organization to keep guys that were out in the field motivated – so let’s continue to do some damage. All of the people that I’ve been around in my own scouting career have said, ‘Hey, there are plenty of big leaguers left in this pool of players.’ Let’s make sure we stay focused.”
Their fifth-round pick, first baseman Ryan Wheeler out of Loyola Marymount University, spent parts of three seasons in the majors with Arizona and Colorado. Sixth rounder Bradin Hagens, a right-hander out of Merced (Calif.) College, had some time with Arizona in 2014. And in the seventh round, the club had high hopes about the future of Matt Helm, a third baseman out of nearby Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz. (Helm went on to play five seasons in Arizona’s minor league system).
That leads us to the eighth round. At this point in the draft, the Diamondbacks had already made 12 selections – including nine position players. The expectation was that all of them would sign with the club; in fact, Arizona would go on to sign its first 28 picks.
“Now, if you just look at it, we’ve taken Borchering’s bat, Davidson’s bat, Krauss, Ryan Wheeler and Matt Helm,” Allison said, “and you have some of these ‘all bat’ players with ‘Where are they going to play defensively?’ questions.
“As we’re starting to talk and have conversation in the eighth round, Paul Goldschmidt’s name is being bantered. The discussion of many in the room was, ‘Are we willing to go take another bat where we’re not really sure where he’s going to play?’ The Paul Goldschmidt that we now see day-after-day with the Arizona Diamondbacks was somewhat of a different player when he was in college (at Texas State University). The credit for him goes to area scout Trip Couch, who was covering southern Texas at the time and is now coaching at the University of Houston. When I went out the previous fall (of 2008), Trip was very, very adamant that I meet Paul.
“Trip had known him since he was in high school. He knew the character. Bottom line, we went out to lunch with Paul and another player on his team, just so I could get to talk with him. We talked about his playing in the Alaska League and his baseball career and the things he wanted to do. I’ve always said, it really gives you comfort as a scouting director when you’re not only watching the player, but every question that you have in your own mind about that player is answered by your area scout.”
Seeing the player Goldschmidt is now, it’s quite surprising that he lasted until No. 246 in the draft. He had been selected in the draft out of high school (49th round in 2006 by Houston) – and was a prep teammate of Kyle Drabek, who went in the first round of that year’s draft to Philadelphia. In other words, plenty of scouts should have seen him as far back as his high school days. And while Texas State University might not be a baseball hotbed, the school has produced its share of major leaguers – including Scott Linebrink and Marcus Thames.
“Why Paul fell to where he fell … that’s the unscientific nature of what we do, but it was a very comfortable pick for us at that point,” Allison said. “I thought Paul at that time, honestly, was much more power over hit. But after we got him, all of those characteristics that he had shown Trip over the years came out. Once he got into pro baseball, he reshaped his approach, reshaped how he ate, reshaped how he went about his business in physical training, and of course, then jetted himself to what he’s doing now. Those are the great ones.
“At Texas State, the wind always blew out, the ball kind of flew. As scouts, we can make up a lot of reasons why this guy won’t do this and won’t do that – and sometimes we forget to look at what they do well. Statistically, Paul was terrific. Paul was solid at first base. I do know he was not moving around like he does now, but he’s really committed himself to his strength and conditioning program to kind of reshape how his body works. Again, these are more off the line of the scouting world, but the people that touched him in our development system – they just always talked about it. Every time that we challenged him to be a better base runner, he would take it full throttle. Be a better first baseman, be a better leader. Those things were always the makeup and the character of who Paul Goldschmidt was.”
Allison followed up the Goldschmidt selection by using the club’s ninth-round pick on University of Oklahoma right-hander Chase Anderson – who is now in his fourth year as a major league starter (and second with Milwaukee). At the time, he was a “just in case” backup on the Sooners’ staff. Anderson has made more starts in 2017 than he did during his time at Oklahoma.
“Tip of the cap to Steve McAllister, the regional supervisor there, and Jason Karegeannes, the area scout,” Allison said. “Chase wasn’t an easy one to try and put together because he was a guy on the Oklahoma staff that a lot of times was the ‘just in case’ pitcher when Garrett Richards – who was the famous guy on that team – was pitching. You can go back and look at Garrett’s college career. There were some times where it didn’t go real well and now Chase had to pitch. You just kind of had to be there, and this lends itself to having more eyes available, more resources of bodies.”
Pitchers Charles Brewer, a local kid from Scottsdale, Ariz., who attended UCLA, was selected in the 12th round and saw action with the Diamondbacks in 2013. In the 13th round, prep left-hander Patrick Schuster was selected out of J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla.; he made 11 bullpen appearances for Oakland and Philadelphia last year.
It’s worth noting that a pair of pitchers drafted by the Diamondbacks – 11th-rounder Scottie Allen and 16th-rounder Ryan Robowski – were traded for major league players who played for Arizona in 2011. Allen was dealt to the Yankees for first baseman Juan Miranda, while Robowski and pitcher Kevin Eichhorn went to Detroit for pitcher Armando Galarraga.
It’s also worth noting that the data the Diamondbacks scouting staff accumulated paid off beyond the 2009 draft. As an added bonus to all the extra work Allison and his staff performed, Arizona had strong convictions about several players they coveted on draft day – pitchers Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg – and traded for the three the following year (Corbin and Skaggs had been selected by the Angels, while Holmberg was picked by the White Sox).
“Obviously, we had so much information about Skaggs, about Corbin, and about Holmberg, that it was very easy. Those were players that we really, really liked that just didn’t add up and line up during the draft. No doubt, that’s really important to connect those dots as well,” Allison said.
With those trades, Arizona’s 2009 draft scoreboard consists of:
- 12 players who have seen at least one day on a major league roster;
- three players who were acquired due to the wealth of knowledge the club obtained about them for the draft;
- and three major league players obtained for draft picks who didn’t reach the majors.
Overall, that’s a pretty good haul.
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The game of revisionist history is fun to play for fans, media – and scouting directors, too. Allison is OK talking about the elephant in the room. “Oh, it’s fun to ask. We do it all the time on the scouting trail … ‘What did I miss?’
“My children to this day still ask, ‘Dad, why didn’t we take Trout?’ Obviously, he’s a really, really electric player. Best player in the game. But at that point, you’re only managing the information that you have to make those decisions. At 16 and 17 for the Diamondbacks, we went a different direction.”
Of course, the follow-up question then has to be asked: Does Goldschmidt’s success help balance things out for him? Allison could have selected Trout and didn’t, but he did take Goldschmidt when everybody else had passed him by for almost 250 picks.
“In the overall scheme, you bet it helps,” Allison said. “I think this goes back to the point that big leaguers are everywhere in the draft. There’s one thing the draft has shown us … probably only with Ken Griffey Jr. did we ever as an industry get it right. He was everyone’s No. 1. He was the best player. And he became a Hall of Famer. Other than that, there are so many swings-and-misses in draft history. I say it all the time … it doesn’t matter where you’re selected or how much money you get. The only thing that determines what type of a player you become is you.
“They come from everywhere; don’t forget that. There’s Albert Pujols in the 13th round. There’s Mike Piazza in the 62nd round. We focus our attention so much on the upper part of the draft, and that’s where we spend a lot of the money. Over history, that’s where most of the best players come from, but when you have a staff and you have scouts that are geared towards, ‘Hey, let’s continue to find the best story available in the pool for this pick,’ that’s what really helps drive that – and that’s what Goldschmidt became.
“When you look up and you know that Paul is always in the conversation for the National League MVP … and that he’s a franchise player for the Arizona Diamondbacks … and to watch the Diamondbacks open up this year and Pollock, Owings, and Goldschmidt are hitting first, second, and third, that’s great. Now, would Mike Trout fit in there? Absolutely. You can always have fun with all of those things, but the draft process is one where you have to be collectively attentive to all rounds – because there are big leaguers everywhere.”
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Chuck Wasserstrom spent 25 years in the Chicago Cubs’ front office – 16 in Media Relations and nine in Baseball Operations. Now a freelance writer, his behind-the-scenes stories of his time in a big league front office can be found on www.chuckblogerstrom.com.