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Diamondbacks 2002 Draft Overview

By Josh Boyd
May 18, 2002

Scouting Director: Mike Rizzo (first year: 2000).

2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 29th)
1. (Choice to Braves as compensation for free agent Russ Springer).
2. Mike Schultz, rhp, Loyola Marymount.
3. Bill White, lhp, Jacksonville State.

2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 22nd)
1. Jason Bulger, rhp, Valdosta (Ga.) State.
2. Mike Gosling, lhp, Stanford.
3. Scott Hairston, 2b, Central Arizona JC.

2002 Draft
Diamondbacks pick 27th in rotation.

Overview
The draft hasn't been very good to the Diamondbacks in their short history. Nick Bierbrodt, the franchise's first-ever draft pick in 1996 who made five starts in Arizona, and 1997 first-rounder Jack Cust, who had two big league at-bats, are the only two first-rounders the organization has brought to Arizona. Both have since been traded.

Their biggest draft splash came in 1996, when the Diamondbacks signed two draft loophole free agents, first baseman Travis Lee and righthander John Patterson. Lee got to Arizona quickly and had a promising rookie season in 1998 before his production slipped. His biggest legacy to the organization is that he helped bring Curt Schilling from Philadelphia to Arizona.

Patterson has shown great promise but has been cut down by arm problems. He had Tommy John surgery in May 2000 and has struggled to get healthy ever since. He spent the first month of the season on the disabled list but has made three starts at Triple-A Tucson.

Arizona's biggest find from its first draft might be second baseman Junior Spivey, a 36th-round pick who took a long time to develop but has been a pleasant surprise this season.

In fairness to former scouting director Don Mitchell, Arizona drafted at the bottom of the first round in 1996 and '97, didn't draft until the third round in 1998 due to free agent signings, and waited until the supplemental first round in 1999.

But the organization's draft fortunes have looked brighter since Mike Rizzo took over as scouting director. Rizzo, who gained his experience scouting for the White Sox and was responsible for signing Frank Thomas in 1989, has injected more talent into the farm system in his two drafts.

Arizona has shifted focus from projectable high school prospects to safer college players. Last year the Diamondbacks took just five high school players among their first 32 picks, and signed just two from the entire draft class, led by ninth-rounder Jarred Ball, who slid in the draft due to a commitment to Baylor.

While last year's draft could turn out to be a good one, it was perplexing when the Diamondbacks took Jason Bulger, one of the most signable players in the draft, in the first round, and Stanford lefthander Mike Gosling, a Scott Boras client who slipped out of the first round for signability reasons, in the second. Bulger's $937,000 bonus was the second-smallest in the first round behind Justin Pope (Cardinals), while Gosling's $2 million was the biggest outside the first.

The defending World Series champions find themselves drafting near the bottom of the first round again, and they are expected to look for a quality college arm. They'll hope for Kentucky's Joe Blanton or Ball State's Luke Hagerty to fall, but likely will have to fall back on one of their second options. Derrick Grigsby, the best junior college player in this year's draft, or Cal State Northridge's Bill Murphy could be intriguing choices.

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