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Draft Report Card

Scott Hairston
Photo: Marcs McClintock

Best Pro Debut: 2B Scott Hairston (3) followed up winning the Arizona junior college triple crown by batting .347-14-65 and leading the Rookie-level Pioneer League with 81 runs. RHP Jay Belflower (17) survived the launching pad at high Class A Lancaster and even made one appearance in Triple-A, posting a 0.59 ERA with 11 saves.

Best Athlete: OF Jared Ball (9) is a switch-hitter with exceptional speed. OF Richie Barrett (5) played guard for the NCAA Division III Ursinus (Pa.) basketball team, finishing his career as the all-time leading scorer in the Centennial Conference. OF Mike Thiessen set school records as an option quarterback at Air Force.

Best Hitter: The Diamondbacks believe so much in Hairston's hitting ability that they may jump him from Rookie ball to Double-A to start the 2002 season. 3B Chad Tracy (7) has a pretty lefthanded swing and hit .340-4-36 in full-season Class A. 1B Jesus Cota, a 14th-round draft-and-follow, won the Pioneer League triple crown and MVP.

Best Raw Power: Hairston's compact stroke allows him to hit for power as well as average.

Fastest Runner: Ball can run the 60-yard dash in 6.4-6.5 seconds. Barrett is a 6.6 runner.

Best Defensive Player: C Mike DiRosa (16) has standout catch-and-throw skills and erased 41 percent of basestealers in the short-season Northwest League. Not known for his bat, his .307-4-25 totals were a pleasant surprise.

Best Fastball: RHP Jason Bulger (1) was more of a third baseman in his first three years at Division II Valdosta State (Ga.), then threw 97 mph in the spring and summer. Bulger reminds the Diamondbacks of Bobby Thigpen, a two-way star at Mississippi State before becoming a record-setting big league closer. Mike Gosling (2) had one of the best arms among lefthanders in the draft and threw 94-95 mph in simulated games after signing. RHPs Justin Wechsler (4), Brandon Medders (8) and Belflower all have strong arms as well.

Most Intriguing Background: Hairston's grandfather Sam, father Jerry, uncle John and brother Jerry Jr. all have played in the majors. Bulger's brothers Brian and Kevin were drafted by the Giants in June, while unsigned RHP Matt Fox' (6) brother Mike was taken by the Cardinals. Thiessen was the first player ever drafted from one of the military academies. Unsigned OF Seth Smith (48) is a reserve quarterback at the University of Mississippi.

Closest To The Majors: Gosling has yet to make his pro debut because he had a little shoulder tenderness after signing, but he'll probably start 2002 in Double-A. He could be joined in El Paso by Bulger, Hairston, Tracy, Medders and Belflower.

Best Late-Round Pick: Belflower's stock has soared since he moved from the rotation to the bullpen at the University of Florida last spring.

The One Who Got Away: The Diamondbacks took RHP Brett Smith (21) as insurance in case they couldn't sign Bulger or Gosling. A projected second- or third-rounder based on talent, Smith opted to join UC Irvine's resuscitated baseball program.

Assessment: Arizona rated Gosling among the draft's top eight prospects, but gambled that his ties to Stanford and agent Scott Boras would let him slide to the second round. The Diamondbacks signed him for $2 million, which made it more difficult to sign Bulger. He eventually agreed to $936,000 and the club got the two pitchers it coveted.

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