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D-backs lean right on Day 2 of Draft

Arizona takes seven pitchers in rounds 3 through 9
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- There was an obvious trend for the D-backs on the second day of the MLB Draft. Whereas they selected position players with their first three picks Monday, they loaded up on college arms -- especially righties -- on Tuesday.

Draft Tracker: Follow every D-backs Draft pick

PHOENIX -- There was an obvious trend for the D-backs on the second day of the MLB Draft. Whereas they selected position players with their first three picks Monday, they loaded up on college arms -- especially righties -- on Tuesday.

Draft Tracker: Follow every D-backs Draft pick

In fact, the D-backs selected right-handed pitchers in rounds 3-8 before finally taking a lefty in the ninth round. They rounded out the day with their only position-player pick.

"These are all guys that have plus velocity, they have leverage, they have strength, they've got size, they've got the secondary pitches," said Deric Ladnier, D-backs director of scouting, of the pitchers the club took Tuesday.

The Draft concludes Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 9 a.m. MST.

Round 3: RHP Jackson Goddard, Kansas
If D-backs fans want a sense of Goddard's physical ability, Kansas coach Ritch Price might have the perfect story for it.

It was 2017, Goddard's sophomore season. He had a no-hitter against TCU -- a well-respected program -- going into the eighth inning. Price said it's the only time he let Goddard go over 115 pitches. He finally pulled him after he allowed a base hit.

Goddard never threw a pitch under 92 mph in that outing. That's rare for a college arm.

"He's literally a throwback to that big, strong, physical guy that can maintain his velo through the whole outing," Price said. "I think that's one of the most interesting aspects of his game is how strong he is physically."

Video: Draft Report: Jackson Goddard, College pitcher

Projected by MLB.com to land in the fourth round, Goddard had stuff that could have had him selected in the top two rounds. There were a couple of concerns, though.

First, he missed six weeks of his junior season with an oblique injury. He made sure to make up for it with how he ended the year.

Over his final three starts -- 19 2/3 total innings -- he posted a 1.37 ERA.

"It just tells you what his ceiling is," Price said. "He's got a chance to be a special guy."

He displays three plus pitches. The fastball sits 92-94 mph, can hit 97 and features some run and sink. He also uses a low-80s slider and a changeup.

Price said the next step in Goddard's development is making sure he's more consistent around the strike zone. He's improved a lot there in the last year, so it will be about continuing to make progress.

"A couple years ago, we had five guys [from Kansas] pitching in the big leagues and he's the best guy we've ever had," Price said.

Round 4: RHP Ryan Weiss, Wright State
Weiss might be the definition of an upside pick.

He was a catcher until he began pitching late in his high school career. He threw about 83 mph when he arrived at Wright State, where he walked on to the team as a freshman. Heck, Jeff Mercer, an assistant coach at the time, had to lie to the head coach and stretch Weiss' velocity just so he could recruit him.

"If you like him or you don't as a prospect, that's irrelevant," said Mercer, now Wright State's head coach. "But respect the meteoric rise."

Weiss missed his entire first season at Wright State after herniating a disk and fracturing a vertebra in his back while overdoing weightlifting. But he quickly made up for lost time. In 2017, he led the Horizon League with a 2.13 ERA en route to conference Freshman of the Year honors.

Video: Draft Report: Ryan Weiss, College pitcher

Weiss' fastball sits at 91-93 mph. It can get a bit straight, but usually it arrives on a steep downhill plane because of his 6-foot-4 frame and an overhand delivery. Scouts like his mound presence and envision him becoming a No. 4 or 5 starter for a club.

His curveball is relatively new. He just learned to throw it last year.

Mercer didn't want to make any predictions, but Weiss' ceiling could be high.

"If you can project at all, how good is this dude going to be in three years?" Mercer said. "Good God almighty. That's the crazy part for me. Not to be dramatic, it's just the truth."

Round 5: RHP Matt Mercer, Oregon
Mercer wasn't a star when he got to campus.

He wasn't drafted out of high school because of his Tommy John surgery. He pitched largely in relief as a freshman. He finally moved into the weekend rotation as a sophomore. He became the Ducks' Friday night starter this season.

His fastball is usually 92-93 mph, but he's hit 97-plus before and can do so when he rears back. He has a breaking ball that has been described as a "slurvy" pitch this spring.

Video: Draft Report: Matt Mercer, College pitcher

Ranked as the No. 105 prospect by MLB Pipeline, went 5-7 with a 4.16 ERA in 15 starts in 2018. He struck out 86 batters in 88 2/3 innings.

Mercer needs to refine his command within the strike zone. That, plus some effort in his delivery, have some scouts predicting a future in the bullpen for him.

Mercer became the third consecutive right-hander selected by the D-backs on Tuesday.

Round 6: RHP Ryan Miller, Clemson
Miller, who was selected in the 31st round of last year's Draft, greatly improved his stock.

He is a former junior-college transfer who helped Clemson in a relief role for the first half of 2017 before an injury hampered him in the final part of the season. In 2018, he turned it on.

He went 7-1 and posted a team-leading 2.51 ERA out of the bullpen. He notched four saves and struck out 64 batters over 71 2/3 innings.

"He's a reliever, but we feel like he's a fast mover, he's got good stuff," Ladnier said.

Video: MLB Draft: Ladnier breaks down first two Draft days

Round 7: RHP Travis Moths, Tennessee Tech
Moths has consistently improved over a four-year college career.

In his senior season, he's gone 13-2 and posted a 3.86 ERA over 16 starts. His season isn't over yet as his team is in the NCAA Super Regionals.

He's been a workhorse, too. Moths has already thrown over 95 innings this year, which is about 50 more than he tossed in his freshman season.

Round 8: RHP Levi Kelly, IMG Academy (Fla.)
Kelly was emerging as a top high school prospect in West Virginia when he made the move to IMG Academy after his sophomore season. He's taken advantage of the opportunity to play against stiffer competition.

Kelly's greatest feature is his arm strength. His fastball sits at 92-93 mph. It will only get better as he continues to mature.

He has a slider that has 10-to-4 action, and it is believed to be a breaking pitch that will at least be average.

The largest concern surrounding him, other than whether he'll sign, is that he has struggled with command at times. His high-tempo delivery and mindset could point to a future in the bullpen.

"We're pretty sure that he wants to go out and pitch," Ladnier said. "He's a high school kid that we saw up to 96 mph."

He is committed to LSU.

Round 9: LHP Tyler Holton, Florida State
Holton could be a steal for the D-backs if he pans out.

Holton, Florida State's ace, missed the entire season after suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow on Opening Day and having Tommy John surgery soon after.

"He's not going to be able to pitch until probably April of next year," Ladnier said. "We knew that going in. He's somebody we've seen for a long time and was a very, very good pitcher in the ACC. We feel like he's got upside as a starter and we felt fortunate to be able to get him in the ninth round."

As a junior in 2017, Holton was a first-team All-American. He led the Seminoles with a 10-3 record and 144 strikeouts in a season where they went to the College World Series.

Holton was selected in the 35th round of last year's MLB Draft.

"We assumed the rest of a Tommy John, but our medical team feels like it's pretty standard procedure," Ladnier said.

Round 10: C Nick Dalesandro, Purdue
Dalesandro was the only position player the D-backs drafted Tuesday. As a junior in 2018, he earned third-team All-Big Ten honors, as well as being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team.

This year, he slashed .297/.400/.402 with 15 doubles, two home runs and 34 RBIs. He was also reliable as he never missed a game in three seasons.

Justin Toscano is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.

Arizona Diamondbacks