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D-backs will stay aggressive after Meetings

Club looking to add bullpen help, catcher this offseason
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In some ways it was a quiet Winter Meetings for the D-backs, with no deals done outside of a Rule 5 selection, but the club had plenty of discussions which could prove fruitful.

"This is one of the quieter ones," GM Mike Hazen said of the Meetings. "It wasn't quiet at all underneath the surface, which is encouraging that things will still get done. The fear is leaving here and the urgency of being in a hotel for four days and we lose that heading into the holidays, but we're going to still stay aggressive, we're going to still try and make things happen."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In some ways it was a quiet Winter Meetings for the D-backs, with no deals done outside of a Rule 5 selection, but the club had plenty of discussions which could prove fruitful.

"This is one of the quieter ones," GM Mike Hazen said of the Meetings. "It wasn't quiet at all underneath the surface, which is encouraging that things will still get done. The fear is leaving here and the urgency of being in a hotel for four days and we lose that heading into the holidays, but we're going to still stay aggressive, we're going to still try and make things happen."

There were some D-backs rumors around the Meetings, with a few teams inquiring about ace right-hander Zack Greinke as well discussions revolving around lefty Patrick Corbin and infielder Brandon Drury.

D-backs nab Suarez from Giants in Rule 5 Draft

What's next
The D-backs will continue to hunt for bullpen arms. They have offers out to several free-agent relievers, according to Hazen, and are hopeful of hearing back soon.

In addition, the club would still like to add a catcher after losing Chris Iannetta to free agency. Currently, the D-backs have Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann and John Ryan Murphy on their 40-man roster.

Hot Stove Tracker

It's worth noting that while it would be nice for the D-backs to make up for the offense that Iannetta gave them, they put a heavy emphasis on the defensive aspect of the catching position and look at any production at the plate by their backstops as a bonus. The front office felt a big reason the pitching staff took a big step forward last season was because of the improved defense behind the plate.

The D-backs also have a need for outfield depth. They've stayed in touch with free agent J.D. Martinez, but a reunion seems unlikely given the type of contract he is seeking. While it would be hard to find someone to replace Martinez's production, the team would like to add at least another outfielder to go along with what they hope will be a return to health for Yasmany Tomas.

Video: Lovullo on how he is excited by Tomas' progress

Rule 5
The D-backs selected right-handed reliever Albert Suarez from the Giants and they expect him to compete for a bullpen spot this spring. Arizona also lost outfielder Victor Reyes to the Tigers and right-hander Brad Keller to the Reds.

GM'S bottom line
"I mean as much as we all try to jam into things in these four days, there's a lot of information that was shared which I think could be helpful moving forward. I think one of the things we've tried to stay consistent with is remaining disciplined to what we're trying to get done, and if those things don't happen, there's no reason to force it." -- Hazen

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Charity auction offers one-of-a-kind experiences

Bidding runs until 8 p.m. MT Thursday
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Want to relive the 2001 World Series over lunch with D-backs legend Luis Gonzalez?

Or how about going through Major League Photo Day with D-backs reliever Archie Bradley?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Want to relive the 2001 World Series over lunch with D-backs legend Luis Gonzalez?

Or how about going through Major League Photo Day with D-backs reliever Archie Bradley?

What about learning baseball scouting from the legendary Roland Hemond, one of the most respected executives to work in the game?

You can bid on those one-of-a-kind D-backs experiences along with many more as part of the Katie Feeney Memorial Scholarship Fund Charity Auction. Bidding runs until 8 p.m. MT on Thursday. The scholarship fund was created in memory of Fenney, the late pioneering baseball executive whose career in the game spanned 40 years.

As with the past five MLB charity auctions, all 30 clubs and MLB.com are offering a plethora of once-in-a-lifetime dream experiences for fans. They have raised about $900,000.

The bidding for lunch with Gonzalez begins at $1,000 and includes three guests. Following lunch, Gonzo will take your group on a tour of Chase Field, where you will have access to several areas that are not on the public tour. In addition, the winning bidder will get four incredible seats to a game and the opportunity to watch batting practice from the field, where the group will meet a D-backs player.

The bidding for spending Spring Training Photo Day with Bradley begins at $500 and will allow you to tag along as he goes through media photo day with his teammates. When that is over, you can invite three guests to join you in watching the team's workout that day from the field, where the general public is not allowed. Following the workout, you will join Bradley for lunch and receive a personal baseball card of yourself as a keepsake. The date for D-backs Photo Day has not yet been set, but it usually takes place in mid-to-late February and cannot be changed.

The bidding to spend a game learning scouting from Hemond begins at $500. Hemond, who began his MLB executive career in 1952, is one of the game's most beloved figures. He is honored at the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Buck O'Neil Award. The winning bidder will come early to a 2018 regular-season game and watch batting practice from the field, meet a D-backs player and have dinner with Hemond. You will then have the opportunity to sit next to Hemond in the scout section behind home plate, where you'll hear stories from his six decades in the game.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs nab Suarez from Giants in Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs picked up another arm for their bullpen in the Major League portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft as they selected right-hander Albert Suarez from the Giants.

Suarez has appeared in 40 games (12 starts) for the Giants over the past two seasons going 3-8 with a 4.51 ERA.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs picked up another arm for their bullpen in the Major League portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft as they selected right-hander Albert Suarez from the Giants.

Suarez has appeared in 40 games (12 starts) for the Giants over the past two seasons going 3-8 with a 4.51 ERA.

The D-backs got an up close look at Suarez last season as four of his 18 relief appearances came against Arizona. The 28-year-old certainly impressed in those outings tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings and notching the lone save of his big league career.

"Looking at the construction of our bullpen, watching how the market was developing, we felt like it was a good opportunity," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "It's not a development situation for us. We feel like we can plug him right in and he can realistically compete. Sometimes in these situations we bring guys in from Double-A and Triple-A, but he's pitched in the big leagues and we like his stuff. He's got a good curveball. We think he could slot right into the competition that we're going to have next year."

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

Suarez was non-tendered by the Giants earlier this month and was re-signed by the Giants to a Minor League deal. At the time the D-backs attempted to sign him as well, but he opted to go back to San Francisco.

The D-backs, as expected, lost a pair of players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft as well.

Outfielder Victor Reyes went first overall to the Tigers.

"Best of luck to him," Hazen said. "He's a great kid. From a protection standpoint we felt like it wasn't the right time to put him on the roster and we'll see. He'll have an opportunity over there I would imagine and good for him."

Right-hander Brad Keller was selected by the Reds.

"It was a tough decision for us not to protecting him," Hazen said. "We'll see. He's got a good arm. He made some improvements at the end of the season, stuff ticked up a little bit at the end of the year. We made that choice not to protect him and we'll see how he does in Spring Training."

Teams must keep Rule 5 selections in the big leagues for the entire season or offer them back to their original team for half of the $100,000 selection fee.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Lovullo: D-backs 'know what it takes now'

Arizona hoping to eclipse 2017 achievements with run in '18
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs' 2017 postseason run ended earlier than they hoped it would, but manager Torey Lovullo sees his team using the sweep at the hands of the Dodgers in the National League Division Series as a building block for '18.

"We have turned the page on 2017, and we'll get ready to [go] after the New Year to get things moving downhill for another run," Lovullo said at his yearly news conference at the Winter Meetings.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs' 2017 postseason run ended earlier than they hoped it would, but manager Torey Lovullo sees his team using the sweep at the hands of the Dodgers in the National League Division Series as a building block for '18.

"We have turned the page on 2017, and we'll get ready to [go] after the New Year to get things moving downhill for another run," Lovullo said at his yearly news conference at the Winter Meetings.

"We know what it takes now. We know what the walk is. We know what the runway looks like. And when you get to the end of the runway and hopefully enter into the postseason, that it's a whole new level of baseball and that you got to be ready to play -- we know that there's an extra gear that we need to get to and we know what that feels like. And we fell short of our expectations and our overall goals, and I know that we're hungry to achieve things and bring it to the next level."

Video: Lovullo's take on playing under high expectations

Unless there's some sudden change in finances, the D-backs will have to find a way to match last year's success without the presence of free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez.

Martinez, who was acquired on July 18, hit 29 homers and drove in 65 runs for the D-backs. While he was a huge part of the offense, Arizona was 54-39 on the day it acquired him, but 39-30 with him.

Hot Stove Tracker

"I want us all to remember, for the first half of the season and beyond, until we did get J.D., we were a real good team," Lovullo said. "He just gave us that little push to take it to the next level. So I'm hoping because of what those guys tasted, touched and felt, that they understand what it will take to fill in those gaps."

Winter Meetings interview with Lovullo

Here are a few other topics that Lovullo touched on during his session:

• As of now, Lovullo is not inclined to name a closer for next year. Archie Bradley and Brad Boxberger profile as late-inning options, but the team could still add another back-end piece.

"I would like to have a closer when we walk out of Spring Training," Lovullo said. "It's [something] that I feel strong about, but I don't know who that's going to be right now. We have to filter some things through, and I know there's a lot of moving parts and things can change between now and that time."

Video: Lovullo on how he is excited by Tomas' progress

• Outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who was limited to just 47 games last year due to injuries, will have to earn his playing time in 2018, but the organization feels he can have a big impact.

"He's going to be one of the guys that's going to have to go out and compete," Lovullo said. "He looks good. I've seen him working out at Chase [Field], so he would absolutely be a guy we count on. There's thunder in his hands. I know he wants to continue improving in all areas of his game, which we need, and he can be a very exciting guy that can carry a roster. So we're excited about that."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs hear from Yanks on Drury, Corbin

Teams have also contacted Arizona about ace Greinke
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The rumor mill surrounding the D-backs at the Winter Meetings appears to be heating up, but whether that adds up to a deal before teams head home Thursday afternoon remains to be seen.

"It's hard to say still," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "Things can go pretty quickly. I think for the volume of conversation that we've had, something could happen quickly if it came together, but we're not anticipating that right now."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The rumor mill surrounding the D-backs at the Winter Meetings appears to be heating up, but whether that adds up to a deal before teams head home Thursday afternoon remains to be seen.

"It's hard to say still," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "Things can go pretty quickly. I think for the volume of conversation that we've had, something could happen quickly if it came together, but we're not anticipating that right now."

A free-agent signing seems more likely than a trade before Thursday given that the D-backs currently have offers out to relief pitchers.

The D-backs are still in the mix for trades, with rumors involving them picking up Wednesday.

In addition to talking to the Yankees about lefty Patrick Corbin, the two teams have also discussed infielder Brandon Drury, according to a New York Post report confirmed by MLB.com.

According to a source, the D-backs have also been engaged by more than just the Rangers about ace pitcher Zack Greinke, though it doesn't seem like those discussions have had a lot of traction.

Moving Greinke and the $138.5 million that he's still owed through 2021 would free up payroll to make other moves, but the D-backs are not looking to simply dump salary, and they are hesitant to part with their ace as they plan on contending in '18.

Video: Gilbert on D-backs reportedly dangling Greinke

The prospect of moving Greinke is even less attractive if they have to eat some of the contract or take on another large contract in return. Moving Corbin and/or Drury would seem like a much easier proposition.

Corbin is in his final year of salary arbitration, and he will likely make around $8 million in 2018 before hitting free agency. If the D-backs could save that money by trading him, they could free up some funds to fill other needs in the bullpen, behind the plate or in the outfield.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said Tuesday that while he was possibly open to trading one of his starters, he would want to know that he had a clear path toward acquiring a replacement.

Dealing Drury would make sense, given the D-backs' surplus of middle infielders, which includes Ketel Marte, Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Daniel Descalso.

Given Drury's age (25) and the fact that he is not yet eligible for arbitration, he is an attractive player to a number of teams, and the D-backs have fielded numerous inquiries about him.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Patrick Corbin, Brandon Drury

D-backs fielding calls on arms, infielders

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- At Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, the D-backs continued to receive lots of interest in their starting pitchers and middle infielders.

According to USA Today, the Yankees are interested in left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is in his final year of control, and D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said he has frequently been asked by other clubs about Arizona's pitching.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- At Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, the D-backs continued to receive lots of interest in their starting pitchers and middle infielders.

According to USA Today, the Yankees are interested in left-hander Patrick Corbin, who is in his final year of control, and D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said he has frequently been asked by other clubs about Arizona's pitching.

"We have been hit on our starting pitching," Hazen said. "We have all sorts of starting pitching -- we have starting pitching that's young and controllable. We have starting pitching that's not as controllable. It's sort of all over the spectrum and sort of hits a lot of different clubs. And a lot of different teams are looking for starting pitching right now."

Trading a starting pitcher would be more complicated than dealing an infielder, because if he traded a member of his rotation, Hazen would have to somehow replace him.

"There would have to be some other path that you would feel comfortable you'd be able to replace that starting pitcher with," Hazen said. "Wherever that was. You could theoretically do it without having a plan in place. I would like to have a plan in place if we did that."

The rotation heading into Spring Training appears set with Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Corbin, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley. Hazen mentioned the club has a little bit of depth in prospects Anthony Banda, Braden Shipley and Matt Koch.

Right-hander Shelby Miller is expected to return from Tommy John surgery sometime around midseason, and prospect Taylor Clarke could be ready at some point to contribute if needed.

Still, trading one of the front five, Hazen said, would require the team to find a way to acquire a replacement.

When it comes to the middle infield, however, dealing someone is much simpler because of the team's surplus in that area.

As it stands, the D-backs' middle-infield options consist of Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, Daniel Descalso and Ketel Marte.

Owings' versatility makes him extremely valuable. Although the D-backs have said they'd like to add outfield depth, Owings could help alleviate that, as he can not only play every position in the infield, he can play all three outfield positions well.

"I would say that's probably the plan," Hazen said of using Owings in that role. "Love the way he plays second, love the way he plays short, plays all over the outfield. He can play third. To me that is a huge strength."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs won't mortgage future for present

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs, who claimed a Wild Card spot last year, plan on being postseason contenders once again in 2018, but they aren't going to go all in on next year at the expense of continuing to be competitive in the future.

As the Winter Meetings opened Monday, D-backs GM Mike Hazen had three main objectives: continue adding pieces to the bullpen, find a catching replacement for Chris Iannetta, who departed via free agency, and add some depth to the outfield.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs, who claimed a Wild Card spot last year, plan on being postseason contenders once again in 2018, but they aren't going to go all in on next year at the expense of continuing to be competitive in the future.

As the Winter Meetings opened Monday, D-backs GM Mike Hazen had three main objectives: continue adding pieces to the bullpen, find a catching replacement for Chris Iannetta, who departed via free agency, and add some depth to the outfield.

However, if you add up the money owed to players under contract next year with the money MLBTradeRumors.com projects their 13 arbitration-eligible players to make and the salaries of their pre-arbitration guys, you end up around the $115 million mark, which would be a franchise record.

It also seems to be right around what the team has indicated would be its maximum expenditure for this year.

So assuming the D-backs can handle around a $115 million payroll, how can they add the needed pieces without adding much money?

That question has led to speculation they would be open to dealing lefty Patrick Corbin or outfielder A.J. Pollock. Both players are in their final year of arbitration eligibility, with Corbin projected to earn a little more than $8 million and Pollock around $8.5 million.

Hazen was asked if he anticipated both Corbin and Pollock being back with the D-backs next year.

"Yeah, I anticipate it," he said. "You never know where the trade market is going to take you but I would anticipate that to be the case. I don't have a reason to think otherwise now."

Video: Hazen on Martinez's season and trying to re-sign him

But does the team need to move money in order to take on money?

"It's hard to say," Hazen said. "I think if you're able to make some moves cheaply, on the free-agent market or via trade, then you never know. We'll see where that takes us."

Hazen has to continue to balance the desire to contend this year while also keeping an eye on making sure that long term they can continue to remain competitive. It's what he often refers to as "sustainability."

"I think we're semi-open-minded to that we're going to have to be creative for the long term," Hazen said. "That means we may have to consider some things that you wouldn't necessarily consider if you were putting all your eggs into 2018."

If the team did not make any further moves, it could shift Braden Shipley or Anthony Banda to the bullpen if needed. The D-backs could also go with some combination of Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann and John Ryan Murphy behind the plate.

So it's possible the D-backs could move some money, but they won't move a player just to do it. Instead, it would have to make sense for 2018 as well as for the future.

"We'll see," Hazen said. "We haven't found anything that's right. We're trying to be fairly selective with how we make some of those decisions. It's not like we have to go out and do anything."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Winter Meetings interview with Torey Lovullo

MLB.com

Q. Great year last year you guys had. What do you do to kind of take that next step? What have your thoughts been this offseason about that?

TOREY LOVULLO: I think that, first of all, I was really proud of the year we had. Our guys came together in a very unique way. They believed, cared, trusted. I think all those things that go into a team feeling like they can be successful year in and year out are kind of built-in. But you're right, we do have to do a couple of extra things and raise the expectation and that's what we have done in Arizona.

Q. Great year last year you guys had. What do you do to kind of take that next step? What have your thoughts been this offseason about that?

TOREY LOVULLO: I think that, first of all, I was really proud of the year we had. Our guys came together in a very unique way. They believed, cared, trusted. I think all those things that go into a team feeling like they can be successful year in and year out are kind of built-in. But you're right, we do have to do a couple of extra things and raise the expectation and that's what we have done in Arizona.

So we're proud of what happened, we're turning the page, we have turned the page on 2017 and we'll get ready to, after the new year, to get things moving downhill for another run. We know what it takes now. We know what the walk is. We know what the runway looks like. And when you get to the end of the runway and hopefully enter into the postseason that it's a whole new level of baseball and that you got to be ready to play. I think that the Wild Card Game took a little bit out of us. We were ready to play the Dodgers, I just think we ran into a hot team and we got to make sure we're playing our best baseball at that time of year.

So as we're moving forward, we're not going to look past what we have to do during the year, but we know that there's an extra gear that we need to get to and we know what that feels like. And we fell short of our expectations and our overall goals, and I know that we're hungry to achieve things and bring it to the next level.

So the hunger is probably what -- how to crave that drive and that push and how to satisfy that hunger. That's what we learned.

Q. Seems like you're going to bring back most of the team, but J.D. [Martinez] right now, maybe not so much. That's a pretty big gap in production there. How do you look at the lineup without him?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, you're right, he was a tremendous addition to our lineup. We're always optimistic that we're going to continue to bring in really good players, and if one of them is J.D., he would be another. It would be another wonderful year for us. But if not, my expectations are that there's a natural progression that players walk through, that they're going to all get better, and get more experienced and have their own expectations raised to the level where they're going to fill in those gaps and fill in those voids. They know what a team needs to do to function and continue moving forward every single day, and they're going to pick up the slack just because they know that there might be a little void there.

I want us all to remember for the first half of the season and beyond until we did get J.D. we were a real good team. He just gave us that little push to take it to the next level. So I'm hoping because of what those guys tasted, touched and felt, that they understand what it will take to fill in those gaps.

Q. Assuming that J.D. does not come back, talk about Christian Walker. He played on the playoff team. Do you anticipate him being an active as a starting spot or a role player off the bench. Do you like at him as perhaps a key player?

TOREY LOVULLO: I look at all of our guys as contributors, and Christian Walker certainly falls inside of that category. A player that we picked up on waivers from another organization, came in, was MVP of the Pacific Coast League and then found his way into our playoff roster and got some big meaningful hits down the stretch, which is very hard to do for a young player who is trying to make impression.

So I love the approach, I love the ability to attack the ball and elevate the ball, I didn't get a chance to see him defensively as much as I would like to, but that's what we'll walk through in Spring Training. So we feel like we have a very, very talented group of players on our 40-man roster, and it's up to us to make sure that we continue to develop the right guys and help us push forward to pick the best 25 to start the season in April.

Q. What was J.D. like to manage?

TOREY LOVULLO: It was such a fast-forming relationship, which is a credit to him, he's just a very humble, down-to-earth, easy-going guy, that off the field became a member of our family, our Arizona family. And inside of the day-to-day activities, I don't think I've seen a more passionate, smarter hitter walk through his day-to-day activities. He studies, he watches as much video as I've ever seen. He understands how the pitcher's going to attack him. He has a game plan against every pitcher and just watching the routine from the time the game started until he's finished with his at-bat never changed.

So he's a very dedicated, routine-oriented hitter and it all translates. I couldn't say enough good things about what he did to show the rest of our group what it takes to prepare for the moment and expect good outcomes from the moment.

Q. Players today are bigger, stronger, faster than ever before. With all the information in the game, do you think they're actually smarter? Do they understand the game better than previous generations?

TOREY LOVULLO: That's a loaded question. I think my dad and my grandfather teaching me the game from the ground level, the players like Mickey Mantle and hearing stories about Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, I would say no. I would say that the players are probably just as talented, just as smart, maybe today's generation might be a little bit stronger because there's weightlifting; I don't think that was happening in the older days. There's also specific training, these guys are going very, very point specific on their bodies and areas that are going to be more conducive to add strength to their game.

So I just think it's a natural evolution where players have gotten more physical. That's helped them drive the ball out of the ballpark. You're talking about different things such as launch angles and spin rates, there's more technology which allows players to get more data and more information and visually speaking I know that there's a lot of video that these guys could walk, can get so they walk up to the plate more prepared.

I remember Alan Trammell saying to me when I was a rookie that it was almost unfair to me, that the first time around the pitchers were going to have an advantage and the next time around, because I would get more familiar with them I could -- the advantage would switch. Today that's more neutral. Players walk up to the plate knowing exactly what the pitchers have based on the video and the technology that's provided.

Q. Due to circumstances, injuries last year, [Ketel] Marte really had to step up, and he did. How do you see him fitting into the mix going into Spring Training?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, we have some very skilled middle infielders, and we're very thankful for that, so when we walk through that whole situation, Nick Ahmed goes down and Chris Owings goes down in a very short period of time, and we have somebody sitting in Triple-A that was our depth, and that's why he was brought over, and he went out and did his job and came up and was very, very productive. So without Ketel we would not have been in this position we were at the end of the year.

So the way I'm viewing it is it's Spring Training, it's going to be very competitive. For the guys that are there and competing for a potential starting spot or a spot on the roster, I hope that they prepare themselves and get ready for a very, very spirited Spring Training because we are open-minded and we know that there's some very talented group of guys that we have not set up any structure as to who is going to be the starter or what position. We're still walking through that right now, the dynamics of our team may change, I'm not exactly sure. I know our front office is trying to help us get better every single day.

So once we walk into Spring Training with those 40 men and the extra guys on the non-roster, we're going to have a very spirited competition and the best players will go out and perform and win their spots.

Q. Unless you guys were deciding on an established closer, you might have an interesting situation in terms of how to use Archie [Bradley]. I'm curious: How do you kind of value the versatility that he brought to last year's role, compared to maybe just the need to have a lockdown ninth-inning guy? Where do you think he can bring the most value?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, certainly it was nice to have Archie and [Andrew] Chafin on the back end, and we were filling in the seventh inning with some really, really talented guys as well. But Archie's so unique, last year he was a lockdown reliever; no matter when he came into the game, he was going to shut his inning down. We asked a lot of him. He comes in as a starter. He rotates into the bullpen. Really that happened by accident.

So I feel like when Spring Training starts we're going to stretch him out [and] prepare him as a starter because that's what his body's used to and I think that's what worked for him. And anything can happen. Last year we walked through a lot of injuries, so if you stretch him out we're going to have that ability to maybe shift him into a different role, but for right now it looks like we're going to keep him in the bullpen. That would be my choice.

We're just going to try to build back-end pieces. Brad Boxberger is a guy that I've seen firsthand. He saved 40 games in a very rugged [American League] East and has great stuff and he's healthy, so we feel like with those two components on the back end of our bullpen and we're going to continue to build pieces we have pieces that are still there, we like the way that's shaping up. So I would like to have a closer, when we walk out of Spring Training. It's a probability that I feel strong about, but I don't know who that's going to be right now. We have to filter some things through and I know there's a lot of moving parts and things can change between now and that time.

Q. After [Chris] Iannetta walked last week, my thought is you would be happy with two catchers on the roster. I would assume that you were comfortable. If you have the two catchers, do you still use them with individual pitchers that you did last year like Jeff [Mathis] with [Zack] Greinke and [Chris Hermann] with Robbie Ray.Would you still keep that format?

TOREY LOVULLO: [John Ryan] Murphy is also in that mix as well. So the first thing I want to mention about CI is that I'm happy for him. He had a tremendous year and he's moved on and we're going to miss him. But much in the same when somebody steps away it's an opportunity for somebody else to step in and assume the new role. So we're going to lean a lot on the three catchers that we do have. Chris Herrmann, although he didn't have a great offensive year, made great strides working with Robbie Ray. I know he caught Taijuan [Walker] an awful lot. So we will find the good mixture that works for each pitcher and each situation to help us win games.

I thought it worked very well last year with the three catchers and they were all healthy, through the end of the year. Well, for the most part. Jeff was a little nicked up, but they were able to sustain a very rugged pose and position and I thought our catching was very, very successful. So if we go with three guys again I would be very happy. How that breaks down, we haven't determined yet.

Q. [General manager] Mike [Hazen] mentioned yesterday that Chris Owings could be used in kind of a super utility role, bouncing around the infield and also help you out in the outfield. How do you see kind of that infield candidates at the middle-infield positions right now?

TOREY LOVULLO: I think that all the obvious ones, Nick Ahmed getting healthy, CO and Ketel, Daniel [Descalso] and Brandon [Drury], so there's five guys there that right now off the top of my head would be the starting candidates, the early candidates I should say. Once that shakes down, I know that versatility plays a big role in inside of CO's game, and I love that versatility. I love, first of all, having him in the lineup, but what that versatility does is allows another really good player to go out and perform.

So we're going to continue to explore that option as using him as that type of versatile athlete, and I know he didn't play a lot of center field, he might have played an inning or two in left out of necessity. So if we go that route we're probably going to see him play all three outfield positions and both positions in the middle of the diamond. So we're still walking through that right now.

He's getting healthy, which is very, very important, but I like to have a lot of mainstays. I like to have some structure where guys know where they're going every single day right to the same position, but I also think versatility play as important role with certain players and the success of the team.

Q. What's it like having Fernando Rodney as your closer, and what does a manager have to accept or deal with for that experience?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, first of all Fernando saved 39 games for us, and it was almost unbelievable how good he was in spurts. A credit to him. Guy that's been around a long time, 40 years old and kept himself in really, really good shape. For those of us that got a chance to watch him every single day, we could see that there was a tremendous work ethic that translated to success on the field. All that didn't happen by accident. Smart, caring, with really good stuff. It's hard to believe he's still throwing 95, 96 miles an hour with the stuff that he has.

So without him we would not have won that Wild Card spot. We wouldn't have had the success that we had during the season, and I think a lot of Fernando Rodney.

Q. How much does he have left?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, based on what I saw at the end of the year, seems like he might be able to pitch until he's 50, to be honest with you. He works extremely hard during his pregame. As hard as any pitcher we had in our system. Do I think there's stuff left? Absolutely. How much, I don't know.

Q. Last thing, his confidence level obviously when he pitches himself into trouble, it's quite an innate skill to pitch out of trouble. Where do you think he gets that confidence?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, I think the experience and the walk that he's taken has allowed him to know that there's situations that are never too big or never too small. He keeps it right down the middle. So he buckled a couple times and we stuck with him and that was because of his track record and if you look at the overall body of work, I think he was 39 out of 45 or 46 saves, I don't know, I'm not exactly sure, but we decided to stick with him because of the track record and what he had done in the past and it was a proven guy and he didn't let us down.

Q. Is [Yasmany] Tomas starting in the outfield? Is he going into Spring Training like right now --
TOREY LOVULLO: He's going to be one of the guys that's going to have to go out and compete. He's healthy, he had that lower core surgery and that lower core injury, but everything that's trending towards a very healthy Spring Training. He looks good. I've seen him working out at Chase, so he would absolutely be a guy we count on. There's thunder in his hands. I know he wants to continue improving in all areas of his game, which we need, and he can be a very exciting guy that can carry a roster. So we're excited about that.

But the health is the most important thing, and he's looking like he's very healthy.

Q. The catching situation, if you carried two catchers or three, if you carry the two, that obviously, is the roster spot, does that dictate 13 pitchers, 12 pitchers? I know it's really early?

TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah, yeah, those are always a challenge that we have carrying that third catcher. I think the ability of our starting pitchers and the consistency they showed this past year allowed us to keep three catchers all year long. We never really had to dig into that bullpen and carry an extra guy because they were all worn down. The starting pitching dictated a lot of the success of our year and a lot of the success of our roster being so consistent this past year.

So yeah, I think that the construction of the team matters based on your personnel, but I really like the idea of having a third catcher, but with Chris Herrmann being so flexible he played a lot of left field last year I know he played infield and first base, I like that versatile type of player being able to kind of maneuver him in the National League is a great luxury.

Q. Anthony Banda came up, made his debut last year. What was your assessment and what role do you see for him in 2018?

TOREY LOVULLO: I see him competing as one of our starters. He came in to Spring Training last year and really opened my eyes. He attacked the zone with an aggressive fastball and that's what you want to see from every young pitcher, that they're not backing off of their best pitch or their most aggressive pitch. So I was impressed by that.

Then I watched him improve start to start. His first couple starts were very good. I know there was a couple wobbly ones mixed in there, but I enjoyed meeting him, watching him grow, and the comfort level in which he showed when he was on the mound. There was tremendous mound presence and the stuff improved. We need that to continue. It's a three-pitch mix, with that aggressive fastball. He could be a very, very exciting young starter for us this year.

Q. What did you like about Ron Gardenhire as a bench coach and how do you think he benefited from his hiatus before getting a new job?

TOREY LOVULLO: The hiatus from the illness or between managing spots?

Q. Between managing spots.

TOREY LOVULLO: OK. Well, I felt like I was extremely lucky to first of all get in touch with him, spark his interest, sit down with him, interview him, and then offer him the position that he accepted. He's a special man because of his track record as a manager. He's won over a thousand games, and that all speaks for itself, but he's a kind, compassionate man that helped me grow up in my first year of being a manager. I can never thank him enough for what he brought to me day in and day out. It was the wisdom, it was the insight that he was able to share on a daily basis. It was the calm demeanor in which he delivered a lot of really, really important messages. I feel like I was lucky to have him sitting next to me for most of the season last year.

So I don't know what he was like as a manager before, I just know that's going to fit in very well with that group in Detroit, and Detroit got a very good manager and a good man.

Q. I know there might be nights when you go to the hotel at home on an individual night you might kick yourself a little bit, but at the end of the year when you evaluate the organization or certain points, you probably try to evaluate yourself. What did you come up with at the end of the year?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, I made a lot of mistakes. There's no doubt about that. I feel like I grew as a manager and understanding what it takes to make the right decision with a lot of stimulus and I relied on a lot of good people that were around me and I had to kind of do my own soul searching but learned how to rely on other people that helped me make good decision. So I would continue to ask questions of those around me and do what I could in that moment to make the right decision. I was thankful for that, but at times I had to step out and make those few decisions that weren't so good, and through experience you try not to walk down that road again. I'm not going to say that it's going to be a perfect science this next year, but I learned how to let things go and not let it bother me. And if he is terrible and continue on to the next day or certain situations where I was really disappointed in some of the decisions I made that are all well documented I'm sure, and I just learned that's part of the game. I got to turn the page as quickly as possible because the team will need me the next day.

Q. Did you feel good about the consistent messaging, I'm sure you went into spring and you said, 'This is who we are, this is who we're going to be,' and the messaging part, did you feel over the course of that seven months you stayed consistent in that?

TOREY LOVULLO: I felt so. I felt like we did that. At times I felt like I was a broken record early on, but we were trying to change a culture, we were trying to establish what it took to be an Arizona Diamondback and I wanted our guys to go out and perform and show that every day what it meant to be an Arizona Diamondback and let their performance speak for itself, so teams would see that. We had to earn some respect in the National League, which I think we did.

So that was my early message, and I didn't come off of that because I believe that's what it would take for us to be successful. I think by midseason we established that we were a team that a lot of teams needed it pay attention to. And I was very proud of what we established there.

Q. You guys obviously expressed interest in bringing J.D. back, at a time when the game is younger with reliance on younger players getting greater and greater, how tricky is it thinking through long-term commitments to guys who are old enough to arrive at the free agency, even if it's kind of in the middle of their prime, knowing what lies on the other side of that?

TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah, it's a very slippery slope. You have to be very careful about signing guys to a contract that may be a couple years too long and when organizations are challenged financially, you have to make some really key tough decisions. So passing on somebody might be the best move. So there are some challenges with that. We all know that there's some very well documented contracts right now that with some players that aren't playing or performing up to the level or expectations of what they're earning. That's just the nature of the game.

So it's probably very dependent on each front office and each group so that each GM and president and owner as to what type of decisions they're willing to make. I just know that our front office is very diligent and hard working and very efficient in some of the decisions that they make.

Q. It would also depend on the player presumably as you look at J.D., you only had a couple months of exposure, but how would you imagine J.D. Martinez. how we would you project him out five years from now?

TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah, well, and that's the second part of it. So I apologize for not getting into that, but it's a key point right there, because you have to look at the body and the mind and the soul and if anybody would have predicted that Pete Rose would have played until he's 45 when he was 25, would have said you're crazy, as hard as he played.

So I know that there's some very unique set of circumstances and I've seen how hard J.D. works, I think that given his age, he is going to play several more years. I know that he's got a very healthy, strong body. That's information that I get to see inside of the clubhouse, so I know that he's the type of guy that could last the length of a long-term contract.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs made Max gamble at 2009 Meetings

Club won division in '11 behind Kennedy, Hudson, but gave up future Cy Young Award winner
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- Just before Thanksgiving of 2009, Josh Byrnes, who was then general manager of the D-backs, called then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to inquire about right-hander Edwin Jackson.

The two had trouble finding an exact trade matchup, so they brought in Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

PHOENIX -- Just before Thanksgiving of 2009, Josh Byrnes, who was then general manager of the D-backs, called then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to inquire about right-hander Edwin Jackson.

The two had trouble finding an exact trade matchup, so they brought in Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

Finally, at the Winter Meetings the following month, the three men got together in one room and worked out a blockbuster trade.

The D-backs received right-hander Ian Kennedy from the Yankees and Jackson from the Tigers. The D-backs sent right-hander Max Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. The Yankees sent lefty Phil Coke and outfielder Austin Jackson to the Tigers, while Detroit sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.

• 2017 Winter Meetings preview: D-backs target depth in 'pen, outfield

It was an old-fashioned baseball trade, and looking at it from the D-backs' side of things, you can see how the perception of the trade shifted over the years.

The D-backs received some initial criticism for dealing Scherzer, who was their No. 1 pick in 2006 and had rocketed through their system. Still, the organization had some concerns about his ability to stay healthy, especially with his violent delivery, and be successful long term as a starter.

"For us to enter into any trade like that and give up Max Scherzer, who is a very talented young starter, we feel like we needed to bring in two starters back," Byrnes said at the time.

Initially, it looked bad for the D-backs.

The 2010 season was not a good one in Arizona. The team struggled and Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch were dismissed on July 1.

Jackson, in particular, had a rough year, and despite throwing a 149-pitch no-hitter in June, he had a 5.16 ERA when interim GM Jerry Dipoto traded him to the White Sox prior to the Trade Deadline.

By the end of 2011, though, the trade seemed to tilt a bit in the D-backs' favor.

After a good year in 2010, Kennedy was the team's ace in 2011, going 21-4 and compiling a 137 ERA+. One of the pitchers the D-backs got in return for Jackson, Daniel Hudson, went 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts in 2010 and won 16 games in 2011.

With Kennedy and Hudson at the top of the rotation, the D-backs won the National League West Division.

"[Kennedy] had a history of success in college and in the Minors and even initially in the big leagues and we saw him coming off the aneurism," Byrnes said towards the end of the 2011 season. "He looked healthy and had added the cutter, so we thought he had four very solid pitches and good command. We thought he was a solid Major League pitcher. He's probably turned out better than we expected, but we certainly felt we were getting a good pitcher."

That season would be Kennedy's high-water mark in the big leagues, though he was still a very valuable pitcher over the next two seasons before being traded. In three-and-a-half years with the D-backs, Kennedy made 119 starts and compiled a 3.82 ERA.

Video: SF@ARI: Kennedy outduels Lincecum in D-backs' opener

Of course, Scherzer modified his delivery somewhat, and by 2013 he was an elite pitcher, winning the American League Cy Young Award. He followed that up with another outstanding year in '14 and then cashed in with a seven-year, $210 million free agent deal with the Nationals.

Would the D-backs have been better off with Scherzer instead of Kennedy and Hudson? Perhaps, but while Scherzer was clearly the best player in that trade and the Tigers may have come out winners in the long run, it isn't quite as cut and dried.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs claim left-hander Owens off waivers

MLB.com

The D-backs claimed left-hander Henry Owens off waivers from the Red Sox on Friday.

The 25-year-old went 60-42 with a 3.49 ERA over six Minor League seasons. In 2014, Owens was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after going 17-5 with a 2.94 ERA.

The D-backs claimed left-hander Henry Owens off waivers from the Red Sox on Friday.

The 25-year-old went 60-42 with a 3.49 ERA over six Minor League seasons. In 2014, Owens was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after going 17-5 with a 2.94 ERA.

During his time with Boston, Owens went 4-6 with a 5.19 ERA in 16 Major League starts from 2015-16.

In '17, Owens combined to go 7-11 with a 4.21 ERA with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Owens was selected by the Red Sox with the 36th pick in the 2011 Draft.

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Henry Owens

Inbox: Who will be D-backs' closer in 2018?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers fans' questions
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

What's your take on the back end of the D-backs' bullpen? Is Archie Bradley the answer at closer? There are some high-quality closers available on the open market. Do you see the team having the financial flexibility to land one and keep Archie in the high-leverage spot he serviced so superbly in 2017?
-- Ryan, Scottsdale, Ariz.

I would be very surprised if they spent a lot of money on a closer. As it stands now, Bradley could be used in a closer's role or in high-leverage situations (such as the Indians' Andrew Miller), with Brad Boxberger closing. If the D-backs are able to find an affordable closer via trade, or if one falls to them in the free-agent market like Fernando Rodney did last year, then they still have the flexibility to use Boxberger and Bradley in different roles. Keep in mind one of the reasons Rodney signed with the D-backs last year is because they were able to tell him that he was going to be their closer. They could do that again this year, which is why GM Mike Hazen talks about wanting to have "flexibility" in building the bullpen.

What's your take on the back end of the D-backs' bullpen? Is Archie Bradley the answer at closer? There are some high-quality closers available on the open market. Do you see the team having the financial flexibility to land one and keep Archie in the high-leverage spot he serviced so superbly in 2017?
-- Ryan, Scottsdale, Ariz.

I would be very surprised if they spent a lot of money on a closer. As it stands now, Bradley could be used in a closer's role or in high-leverage situations (such as the Indians' Andrew Miller), with Brad Boxberger closing. If the D-backs are able to find an affordable closer via trade, or if one falls to them in the free-agent market like Fernando Rodney did last year, then they still have the flexibility to use Boxberger and Bradley in different roles. Keep in mind one of the reasons Rodney signed with the D-backs last year is because they were able to tell him that he was going to be their closer. They could do that again this year, which is why GM Mike Hazen talks about wanting to have "flexibility" in building the bullpen.

:: Submit a question to the D-backs Inbox ::

What are the chances of J.D. Martinez returning?
-- Laura Marie, Aurora, Ill.

My opinion on this has not changed. I don't see any way they can fit Martinez into their payroll structure if he gets the $200 million deal that he is reportedly seeking. They would love to have his bat, but given the payroll situation, I don't see it happening.

What are the realistic solutions to the hole J.D. leaves in the D-backs' lineup?
-- Kyle, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Yasmany Tomas is expected to be healthy after missing most of last season, and he will get some of those at-bats. The D-backs will probably look to trade for a controllable outfielder this offseason, but obviously replacing the prodigious production Martinez provided last year will be extremely difficult.

What's the possibility of trading Paul Goldschmidt?
-- Matt, Phoenix

Less than zero percent. No, seriously, I can't see that happening. I know Goldschmidt would bring a huge return, but it doesn't make sense for a team that is planning on contending in 2018 to trade away its cornerstone player. If the D-backs were stripping down the roster and doing a complete rebuild, that's a different story. But that's clearly not where they're at.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs re-sign McFarland to 1-year deal

Lefty was free agent after club non-tendered him
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed left-hander T.J. McFarland to a one-year deal Wednesday, just days after not tendering him a contract.

By not tendering a contract, the D-backs avoided a possible salary-arbitration hearing with McFarland, who was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $1 million through that process, and he became a free agent.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed left-hander T.J. McFarland to a one-year deal Wednesday, just days after not tendering him a contract.

By not tendering a contract, the D-backs avoided a possible salary-arbitration hearing with McFarland, who was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $1 million through that process, and he became a free agent.

McFarland's deal, according to AZcentral.com, is for $850,000 plus the opportunity to earn another $350,000 in bonuses.

Hot Stove Tracker

McFarland was 4-5 with a 5.33 ERA in 43 games (one start) for the D-backs this past year. Those numbers were inflated by the seven runs he gave up in one-third of an inning in his lone start of the year and six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings against the Cubs.

Tweet from @Dbacks: #Dbacks agree to terms with LHP T.J. McFarland on a 1-year contract.In 2017, @66TJMac limited left-handed hitters to a .222 average & a .548 OPS in a career-high 43 appearances. pic.twitter.com/ZV70SCAHdz

In addition to re-signing McFarland, the D-backs also announced their Minor League team staffs for 2018.

Greg Gross will return for his second season as manager of Triple-A Reno with Jason Camilli joining his staff as hitting coach.

Shelley Duncan, who managed Class A Advanced Visalia last year, will jump to Double-A Jackson to replace J.R. House, who is taking over as the organization's field and catching coordinator.

Joe Mather, who coached at Jackson last year, will take over for Duncan in Visalia.

Blake Lalli will take over as manager of Class A Kane County, and Darrin Garner will be in his first season as manager of the team's rookie Arizona League entry.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland

MLB Pipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects for 2018

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

Top Draft Prospects

"There's less things that can go wrong," one National League scouting director said. "I can't see him coming out and 'laying an egg,' so to speak. He's a little more of a pitcher, when they were more power guys."

While the list doesn't have a high schooler at No. 1, it does have a ton of high-end prep pitching on it, starting at No. 2 with Ethan Hankins. The Atlanta area standout had a very impressive summer and is armed with the best fastball in the Top 50. He might not be atop the list, but that doesn't mean he doesn't belong in the same class as Groome and Greene, who went No. 12 and No. 2 in their respective Drafts.

"He's right up there," the scouting director said. "He's very, very impressive. He has size, strength and stuff. What Hunter had over him, he could do it as a position player, so you knew that when he gives that up, there might be more to come. But he's right up there with the better high school kids I've seen in the last couple of years."

2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks

The top high school bat comes in at No. 4 on the list in the form of Phoenix-area infielder Nolan Gorman. His raw power was on display for much of the summer as he stood out in multiple elite-level home run derbies, with the ability to drive the ball also showing up in games. Nick Madrigal is the top college position player on the list, coming in at No. 11. He's undersized, but that doesn't seem to matter as much these days, and the Oregon State infielder has a strong track record and perhaps the best hit tool in the class.

Video: Draft Report: Nick Madrigal, College 2B/SS

College hitters are often hard to come by, especially this early, but scouts are encouraged that there seems to be more advanced bats to consider in the first round than usual. Given that college performers tend to float up as the Draft nears, seeing Madrigal or some of the others on this Top 50 land in the top 10 seems very feasible.

"I think I like the list this year more than last year," the scouting director said. "I like the depth. There's college pitching, if you're at the top. I think there are some college position players. Who were the college players last year at the top? There's very good high school pitching. I think it's deeper all the way around."

Class breakdown

It's a fairly even split in this year's Top 50, with 26 high schoolers and 24 from the college ranks. It's split right down the middle at the top, with the top 10 filled with five college players and five prepsters. While it is pitching heavy at the top, with seven of the top 10 on the mound, there are more bats to be found later on. That speaks to the aforementioned depth. There might not be a college bat in the top 10, but there are five in the 11-20 range -- led by Madrigal at No. 11 -- and no one would be surprised to see some of them end up in the top 10 once the Draft rolls around.

In total, there are a dozen college hitters in the Top 50, up from eight a year ago. The 12 college pitchers on the list, five in the top 10, is down a touch from 15 on our 2017 Top 50. Of the 26 high schoolers, half are pitchers. High school right-handers are a particular strength in this class, with 11 in this Top 50. The complete positional breakdown of this list is as a follows:

RHP: 18
OF: 11
LHP: 7
SS: 4
1B: 3
3B: 3
C: 3
2B: 1

Top tools

All players, as always, are given grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for all tools or pitches. These are future grades, a reflection of what the scouting industry thinks each of these amateur players can become in the future. Here are the top grades for each tool and pitch.

Position players
Hit: 60 - Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State, Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Power: 60 - Nolan Gorman, O'Connor HS (Phoenix)
Run: 70 - Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.), Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)
Arm: 70 - Joe Gray Jr., OF, Hatiesburg (Miss.) HS, Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (Snellville, Ga.)
Field: 60 - Mike Siani, OF, William Penn Charter (Philadelphia), Alek Thomas, OF, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago)

Pitchers
Fastball: 80 - Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.)
Curveball: 65 - Tim Cate, LHP, Connecticut
Slider: 65 - Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
Changeup: 65 - Steven Gingery, LHP, Texas Tech
Control: 60 - Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.