Diamondbacks Draft Report
Focus on arms brings Scherzer to desert
PHOENIX--One of the first times the Diamondbacks saw Max Scherzer
this spring, he was fidgeting with his arm on the mound and seemingly could not get loose, his fast ball topping out at 87 mph.
Two months and 10 mph later, the Diamondbacks were the ones fidgeting, hoping the Missouri righthander would drop to them with the No. 11 pick in the first round of the draft.
When he did, the Diamondbacks took him as part of their plan to shore up pitching, dovetailing the perceived strength of the 2006 draft class with organizational needs.
"He's a power, power guy," Diamondbacks scouting director Mike Rizzo
said. "We feel like he could be a rotation starter. If not, he projects into some kind of premium pitching position, back of the bullpen or in a starting rotation. We drafted him as a starting pitcher."
The Diamondbacks took pitchers with 11 of their first 13 picks, including sandwich pick Georgia righthander Brooks Brown
, who hits 95 mph, and second-round high school lefthander Brett Anderson
, whose father Frank
is the coach at Oklahoma State but who the organization believes will be receptive to signing.
"We thought the real depth of this draft was pitching, specifically college pitching, and it correlated well with what we were trying to do strategically the last two years," Rizzo said.
"Seeing that our farm system is pretty well-stocked with a good inventory of position players, we felt it would behoove us to go after more pitching."
Scherzer slammed a car door on the middle finger of his pitching hand early in spring and later missed several weeks with what was diagnosed tendinitis, an issue that, along with his agent--Scott Boras
--might have soured some teams.
Scherzer was shut down during the season and examined by both the St. Louis Cardinals' team physician Dr. George Paletta
and specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum
, who found no structural damage.
"Once I got the MRIs, it eased my mind," said Scherzer, who is scheduled to start Saturday when Missouri plays at Cal State Fullerton in an NCAA super-regional. "I didn't have to worry about cutting loose and hurting anything."
Scherzer, 7-2, 1.95, has 72 strikeouts in 74 innings while limiting opponents to a .204 batting average. He was the Big 12 pitcher of the year in 2005, when his 131 strikeouts led the league.
"I'd like to be a starter. I've done both," Scherzer said. "I like starting more, because you get more of a feel for the game. But if it comes down to the point they want me to close, I'm open to that."
Brown, who will pitch in Georgia'a super-regional against South Carolina this week, has 111 strikeouts in 99 innings. Anderson, who pitched for the U.S. national junior team last summer, has signed a letter of intent with Oklahoma State.Snake Bites
• Oregon State righthander Dallas Buck
, the Diamondbacks' third-round pick, was 11-2 but drew concern from some corners about a loss of velocity and a tender forearm. Opponents hit only .203 against him, however, and he was 12-1, 2.09 in 2005, when he led the Pac-10 in innings and ERA while leading the Beavers to the College World Series. "He had a terrific year pitching with some pain," Rizzo said. "Scouting is not all about radar runs. He wins games. He gets people out. He's a warrior. He's the kind of a guy we like in our system."
• Southern California outfielder Cyle Hankerd
and Georgia outfielder Joey Side
was the only position player the Diamondbacks selected in the first 11 rounds. Side hit .352-13-49 for the Bulldogs and was named the most outstanding player in the Athens regional, when he hit .455 with three homers and 12 RBIs last weekend.