PHOENIX -- Pitching turned out to be the theme of the D-backs' 2020 MLB Draft, as they selected hurlers with four of their five picks, including a pair on Thursday’s second and final day.
After picking a pair of college right-handers (Bryce Jarvis and Slade Cecconi) on Day 1 of the Draft, the D-backs selected high school left-hander Liam Norris out of Green Hope High School (Cary, N.C.) with the No. 90 overall pick in the third round, their first selection of Day 2, and they also nabbed right-hander Brandon Pfaadt from Bellarmine University in the fifth and final round.
The lone position player selected by the D-backs was high school third baseman A.J. Vukovich, who was taken with the 119th overall pick in the fourth round.
Taking four pitchers was not the plan going in, but rather the result of the D-backs following their Draft board.
“There were a lot of hitters that we targeted,” D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier said. “During the course of the Draft, sometimes they are selected before you pick, so you don’t have that luxury. We were just basically going down our board and trying to take the best player available, and if it happened to be a pitcher, it was. Obviously, last year we took a lot of pitching as well. Historically, for me, I’ve been a guy who likes to target hitters, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.”
The D-backs did not have a second-round Draft pick as a result of signing free-agent left-hander Madison Bumgarner this past offseason.
Here's a look at each of the players the D-backs drafted on Day 2:
Round 3, 90th overall: Liam Norris, LHP, Green Hope High School (Cary, N.C.)
At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Norris has the physicality that teams look for, and his fastball can touch 96 mph with late life. However, his command has been an issue, as he walked 107 in 141 innings in high school.
The D-backs, though, saw improvement from his junior to senior years, as they had a handful of their staff get a look at Norris, even though his high school season was cut short.
“We had enough information in the past to see the difference and the change that he made,” Ladnier said. “We felt like the upside of a high school left-handed pitcher with the type of stuff he had, we were really intrigued and glad to get him where we got him. We just felt like the upside was too good to pass on him.”
Norris is committed to attend the University of North Carolina, but he is expected to sign with the D-backs.
Round 4, 119th overall: A.J. Vukovich, 3B, East Troy High School (East Troy, Wisc.)
Vukovich is a high school third baseman with a lot of power. He was ranked as the No. 86 prospect in the Draft per MLB Pipeline. Vukovich has some swing-and-miss in his game, but the D-backs love his raw power.
Even though Vukovich's high school season was cut short -- the D-backs got to see him play once this spring in a scrimmage -- they had information on him dating back to last summer.
“He basically participated in every event there was during the summer, so we had targeted him,” Ladnier said.
Whether Vukovich stays at third remains to be seen. Ladnier said Vukovich has the athleticism to play a corner-outfield spot, or he could also end up at first base in the future.
Round 5, 149th overall: Brandon Pfaadt, RHP, Bellarmine University
Pfaadt touches 96 mph with his fastball and has a solid breaking ball and an average changeup. He throws strikes with all three of those pitches, and he helped his Draft stock by pitching in the Northwoods and Cape Cod Leagues the past two summers.
“Had really good reports on him coming out of the Cape,” Ladnier said. “We had a chance to see him in the spring, and [he’s] another guy that’s up to 96 mph, plus curveball, feel for a changeup. Really good delivery, big, strong, durable guy that we felt had upside as a starter like Liam Norris.”