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Diamondbacks Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: RHP Jeremy Ward (2), who went 1-1, 2.19 overall, and 3B Ryan Owens (7), who hit .357-5-46, finished the year faring well in Triple-A and Double-A. 1B Lyle Overbay (18) drove in an astounding 101 runs in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, a record.

Best Athlete: Owens, a Cal State Fullerton product, may not have the quickness to play shortstop at the big league level, but he’s an average runner with power and an excellent throwing arm.

Best Hitter: SS/3B Corey Myers (1) was drafted fourth in the country on the basis of his hitting potential. He handled the college-oriented Pioneer League well for a hitter just out of high school, batting .276-5-44.

Best Power: It would be hard to discount Overbay’s achievements in his professional debut, but Myers hit a state record 22 home runs for Phoenix’ Desert Vista High this spring and added five more for Missoula.

Fastest Runner: The Diamondbacks class didn’t feature much speed, but 2B Jack Santora (19), a fifth-year senior from UCLA, is a plus runner who stole 36 bases this summer.

Best Defensive Player: SS Matt Kata (9) is a smooth-fielding shortstop with an outstanding arm. Owens has the hands and arm to be a steady third baseman.

Best Fastball: Ward, converted to a closer late in the spring at Long Beach State, may figure into Arizona’s big league plans as early as 2000. He throws a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider.

Most Intriguing Background: 1B Dan Wiliford (28) was a legitimate draft pick after being the NAIA Gulf Coast Conference Player of the Year at the University of Mobile (Ala.). It didn’t hurt his draft status, though, that he is manager Buck Showalter’s nephew.

Closest to the Majors: If Arizona’s bullpen is unsettled entering next season, Ward could get the chance to figure into it almost immediately.

The One That Got Away: The Diamondbacks thought they could sign Colorado LHP Justin Maureau (6) if they took him in the first 10 rounds. However, their $400,000 offer wasn’t enough to keep him from going to Wichita State.

Best Non-Draft Sign: 1B Erubiel Durazo and RHPs Byung Kim and Vicente Padilla all signed last winter and played in the big leagues this summer. That’s an incredible achievement for the organization.

Summary: Most in the industry believe the Diamondbacks overdrafted Myers and probably reached on RHP Casey Daigle (1) as their sandwich pick, too. Good college drafting in the middle and lower rounds saved the draft for the short term. The Diamondbacks’ non-draft signs gave them the most immediate benefits of almost anyone in the game.

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