Swanson is jewel of D-backs' college-heavy Draft
PHOENIX -- After filling last year's class with a number of high schoolers, the D-backs selected college players with 36 of their 40 picks in the 2015 MLB Draft.
The D-backs opened the Draft on Monday night by taking Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick, and they grabbed TCU lefty Alex Young in Round 2.
On Tuesday, the D-backs picked up where they left off, picking four straight college pitchers.
"Obviously, the theme early was pitching," said D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier, who was heading up his first Draft for the organization.
The first high school player chosen by the D-backs was also one of their more intriguing selections -- right-hander Wesley Rodriguez in the 12th round.
Rodriguez is an 18-year-old from George Washington High School in New York City who has an overpowering fastball and good breaking pitch. He was expected to go earlier in the Draft and could be difficult to sign.
"Oh man, up to 97 mph, plus curveball, good angle," Ladnier said when asked about Rodriguez's stuff. "He's just an aggressive big-bodied pitcher that we like. He's got top-of-the rotation stuff; he's got to harness it. He's a high school pitcher, but really two plus pitches for sure. He's a flier, as you guys know. We like him. His bonus demands are going to be a little bit higher than where that slot was, and it's something that we'll have to talk about over the course of the summer."
The emphasis on collegiate players this year was no accident. Their first five picks in 2014 were high schoolers, and the D-backs had some holes in the middle part of their system that needed to be filled.
"We had some young guys drafted last year that some of them weren't ready to make the leap to full season and Double-A," Ladnier said. "And what we're hoping is that this can allow those guys the opportunity to develop at the proper rate."
The D-backs also used this year's Draft to beef up their system's depth behind the plate, adding five catchers. They also addressed an organizational need for power-hitting outfielders.
One of those outfielders was Jason Morozowski, who was snagged by the D-backs in the 13th round out of the University of Mount Olive on Wednesday.
"This kid, granted it's a small school, but he can really run, he's got power, he hits for average and he can play center field," Ladnier said. "Sometimes those kids at the smaller schools, for whatever reason, they have a tendency to slide. But when we had our meetings initially, he was a guy that I had circled and highlighted as someone that I certainly wanted to get into the organization."