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Drew Trilogy Comes To Arizona

June 7, 2004
By Jack Magruder

PHOENIX--Stephen Drew entered the 2004 draft with almost identical characteristics as those that brother J.D. brought to the table seven years ago--five discernable tools, a Florida State pedigree, and Scott Boras on the briefcase.

When Drew dropped, ostensibly because of the final factor, the Diamondbacks did not hesitate to make him their first-round pick at No. 15 overall. Drew was considered by most scouts to be the top position player available, and the Diamondbacks had him in their top handful.

"We didn't by any means assume that he would be there, no. On our board, he should not have been there. But that happens quite frequently,'' scouting director Mike Rizzo said.

"He's everything we want in a player. He's got a major league pedigree. He has a chance to be a five-tool player at a premium position. We think he stays in the middle of the field. He is a lefthanded bat with tremendous instincts for the game. Great lineage. Great background.''

Drew, a shortstop, hit .353-14-52 in 51 games for Florida State as the Seminoles prepared for an NCAA super-regional against Arkansas this weekend. He was named the MVP of the Tallahassee regional last weekend, hitting .353 with a homer. He was the national Freshman of the Year in 2002 and was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection this year.

While some scouts feel he may be more suited to second base, Rizzo said the Diamondbacks likely will start Drew at shortstop, if and when he signs.

Signability is certainly the issue that caused teams to back off, but the Diamondbacks have had a cordial working relationship with Boras since Jerry Colangelo signed Boras client Jay Bell to a five-year, $33 million deal the day before the 1997 expansion draft.

Drew joined bothers J.D. and Tim as the first trio of brothers to be selected in the first round of the draft. J.D. Drew was the Phillies' first-round pick out of Florida State in 1997, the same year the Indians took high school righthander Tim Drew. J.D. did not sign with the Phillies but played in the independent Northern League that summer before becoming a first-rounder again in 1998, taken by the Cardinals.

"We don't have illusions about this,'' Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said about the negotiation process. "We've done business with Scott in the past, and I expect we will do it again.

"When a player of Stephen Drew's capabilities is there, you can't walk past him. Pretty much anything you want a baseball player to do, he can do. He potentially will be a quick player to the big leagues, and in this day and age that is a good thing. The negotiations . . . that is for another day.''

Drew, 6-feet and 185 pounds, was rated the best pure hitter and second-best five tool talent among college players in this year's draft pool, though questions about his health remain. He missed 10 games this season with a hip injury and was unavailable for two 2003 super-regional games because of a hamstring pull. He missed 25 games as a freshman in 2002 with a broken foot.

"We've seen him play quite a bit. He plays the game hard,'' said Rizzo, whose scouts have been on Drew since his junior year in high school. "Between the lines, he really goes and gets it. He runs hard. Slides hard. Dives for balls. A lot of players get nicked up when they play that hard. He's never had a major injury, so the nagging injuries, we hope that luck is on our side. It wasn't anything that jumped out at us that was a red flag.''

Drew was the second shortstop taken by the Diamondbacks in the first round in the last three years. High school shortstop Sergio Santos was their first-round pick in 2002.

SNAKE BITES

The Diamondbacks' second-round pick, Louisiana State outfielder Jon Zeringue, was a third-round pick out of high school as a catcher. He has played only outfield at LSU and was hitting .389-12-54 this season with the Tigers still alive in super-regional play.

Third-round pick Garrett Mock pitched most of the season for Houston with a broken bone in his ankle. Mock, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound righthander, was a 14th-round pick in 2002 out of Grayson County (Texas) Community College. He's flashed a mid-90s fastball in the past and went 4-5, 3.71 this season while pitching through his injury.

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