PHOENIX -- With an extremely limited high school baseball season and a truncated college one, the D-backs relied more heavily on a player’s history rather than recent performance in making their five selections in the 2020 MLB Draft.
The result was three college right-handers, a high school lefty and a prep third baseman in what will no doubt go down as the most unique Draft in history.
The team’s first pick, Bryce Jarvis, is the son of former big leaguer Kevin Jarvis and is someone the team had scouted since his high school days.
With in-person meetings impossible, the D-backs used Zoom calls to get to know each of their picks in a more in-depth way. It also gave more of the organization’s decision makers a chance to interact more with the prospects than they had in the past.
“I think we saw the real side of these guys when we started talking and everybody was involved, from the GM to the VPs, we were all in it, just having conversations from different areas of expertise,” D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier said. “I think over time -- and most of the calls were probably 30, 35 minutes, might have been a couple that went longer than that -- when we allowed them the opportunity to ask us questions, we got a better idea of who they were and their interests and how they presented themselves.”
The signing deadline this year is Aug. 1, and the D-backs do not expect to have any issues signing their picks.
The D-backs have a pool of $7,184,900 to spend, including $3,481,300 to spend on their first selection. The slot for their Competitive Balance Round A pick is $2,202,200.
It’s possible that they could look to shift some of the money around in order to pay more for one of their later picks, but it does not appear like they selected any players who will be difficult to sign.
If a club exceeds its assigned pool, it faces a penalty. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, clubs lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10 percent; a first- and a second-rounder and a 100 percent tax for more than 10 and up to 15 percent; and two first-rounders and a 100 percent tax for more than 15 percent.
In eight years with these rules, teams have exceeded their allotments a total of 149 times, but never by more than 5 percent. Twenty-one of the 30 teams outspent their pools last year.
With four of their five picks being pitchers, it would seem like that was a target of the organization. But, in fact, it was simply the way their board fell.
“Historically, for me, I’ve been a guy who likes to target hitters,” Ladnier said. “But sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way.”
One thing the pitchers they selected all had in common was that they impressed the organization during their Zoom call interviews. Ladnier was struck by how advanced they each were when it came to understanding advanced analytics and how to apply it towards improving their individual pitches and approaches.
When Jarvis was in high school, his father asked Ladnier, who had been a longtime friend, to watch him pitch. Ladnier remembered that he liked Jarvis’ delivery and athleticism, but that his stuff was “very marginal.”
Ladnier recommended that Jarvis go to college to help his development. He remembers Jarvis’ dad telling him that “he’s going to be something.”
“As we continued to watch him develop into who he is today, I know that Kevin is probably sitting back, saying, ‘I told you so,’” Ladnier said.
Day 2 name to watch
Brandon Pfaadt didn’t get a lot of attention at Bellarmine University, a Division II school in Louisville, but the D-backs were thrilled to get him where they did. He really helped his stock with the way he pitched last summer in the Cape Cod League.
“To get him where we got him, we were pleased,” Ladnier said. “We had really good reports on him.”
The D-backs have identified players they want to sign and will be as aggressive as they can, but they aren’t going to just sign players to fill out teams.
The organization is viewing it like a recruitment and has prepared detailed plans to share with potential signees about how they develop players.
“Not trying to sign fillers, these are guys that we think are prospects,” Ladnier said. “If we do sign somebody, it’s because we have big league reports on him.”
The last word
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know how it’s going to go. I think it’s going to be crazy. Every team is going to be calling similar people we’re calling. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I can assure you we’ll be right in the mix trying to sign players that we feel like are worthy of it.” -- Ladnier, on what the few days after the Draft are going to be like