The Arizona Diamondbacks added to their talented farm system with several high-upside pitchers during the 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Outfielders Kristian Robinson, Alek Thomas, Corbin Carroll and versatile catcher Daulton Varsho headline Arizona’s farm system. It switched to the pitching side of things in this year’s draft, four of its five selections were college or high school arms.
With the 18th overall pick in the first round, the Diamondbacks took Duke right-hander Bryce Jarvis. Jarvis was throwing in the low-90s at the beginning of 2019, but he upped his velocity to the mid-90s this season after adding 20 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame. He also sports an effective changeup, curveball and slider to make a four-pitch mix. All three off-speed pitches are scouted as average or better offerings.
Jarvis, the son of former MLB pitcher Kevin Jarvis, is a consistent strike thrower and repeats his delivery well. He can shoot through Arizona’s farm system in a hurry.
The Dbacks pounced on another impressive college arm with the No. 33 pick in Competitive Balance Round A, taking Miami right-hander Slade Cecconi. Cecconi’s 6-foot-4 frame produces a high-90s fastball and sweeping slider. His changeup and curveball aren’t as developed as his fastball and slider, but Cecconi has plenty of upside with good arm strength.
Questions surround Cecconi if he’s more suited starting or coming out of the bullpen, but his potential and effective two-pitch combination adds to the collection of young arms grooming in the desert.
Arizona stayed on the mound in the third round at No. 90 overall, selecting prep lefty Liam Norris from Green Hope High School. Norris’ fastball sits in the mid-90s with a late sinking action toward the bottom of the zone. His curveball and slider already grade as average or plus offerings at just 18 years old.
Norris is committed to the University of North Carolina and may be a tough sign, as the 90th pick has a slot value of just over $657,000. But his athletic frame and three-pitch mix can be another intriguing prospect for the Dbacks.
In the fourth round at 119th overall, Arizona grabbed prep corner infielder A.J. Vukovich from East Troy High School. Vukovich is a 6-foot-5 third baseman with impressive bat speed and power. His low leg kick generates some pop in his right-handed swing to make a pull-heavy approach.
Vukovich struggles to make consistent contact, but his power and quick bat are solid tools at this point in the draft. Defensively, Vukovich may not have the athleticism to stay at third base. But he has a strong arm and could be moved to first base.
Along with his prowess on the diamond, Vukovich averaged 27.8 points and 13.1 rebounds per game on the basketball court his senior year. He is committed to Louisville and may be another tough sign, but the Dbacks can nab him if they offer him over-slot value.
With the Dbacks final pick at No. 149 in the fifth round, they selected right-handed pitcher Brandon Pfaadt out of Bellarmine University, a Division II school in Louisville, Kentucky. Pfaadt played in the Cape Cod League last summer and sported a 2.95 ERA in 10 appearances.
Pfaadt’s fastball sits between 93-95 mph. He also has a good feel for his sinker, changeup, slider and curveball. While he doesn’t have a lot of swing-and-miss stuff, Pfaadt forces soft contact that induces ground balls.
Arizona came away with talent and production in this year’s draft. For the rest of the league, Day 2 was filled with plenty of surprises and value picks scattered across the board.
Six key takeaways from Rounds 2 through 5
Miami adds to its pitching staff with Dax Fulton
Dax Fulton, 18, was a first-round caliber talent as a prep left-hander out of Mustang High School in Oklahoma, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in September and didn’t pitch this season. As a result, he fell right into the Marlins’ lap in the second round at No. 40 overall.
When healthy, Fulton’s lanky 6-foot-6 frame and low three-quarter slot generates a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a high spin rate. His curveball is one of the best in the prep class to go along with a developing changeup.
Fulton has a ton of potential on the mound, and this pick could turn into a home run for Miami at this spot. The Marlins drafted electric right-hander Max Meyer third overall, and they added to their core of pitchers with Fulton’s raw stuff.
Enticing two-way prospect drafted by St. Louis
Two-way prospects have garnered some interest in recent years with the likes of Shohei Ohtani (Angels) and Brendan McKay (Rays). Kingwood High School pitcher/shortstop Mason Wynn is another two-way talent in this year’s draft taken 54th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals.
As a shortstop, Wynn has a strong approach to the plate and a smooth right-handed swing. His fielding ability and strong arm bode well to his defensive potential. On the mound, Wynn is equipped with a mid-90s fastball and two secondary offerings in a low-80s changeup and low-70s curveball.
No matter what position, Wynn has legitimate two-way potential at the next level. His athleticism and strong arm can blossom throughout the minors. St. Louis’ player development is a perfect situation to utilize his abilities.
Mets grab tooled-up prepster Isaiah Greene
The Mets took the best available talent on the board throughout the draft, and they nabbed a prep outfielder with tremendous upside at No. 69 overall in Isaiah Greene.
At 18 years old, Greene has an array of solid tools across the board. His left-handed swing is a bit flat, but he makes contact to all fields and results in line drives. Greene’s quickness and aggressiveness translates to plus-speed at the next level. Defensively, Greene has great instincts to get a good jump on the ball and is projectible to stay in the outfield.
Greene isn’t very polished at the moment, but he can shine within the Mets’ farm system in the future. He stood out against his competition over the summer and has plenty of tools for his age.
Cole Wilcox, Casey Martin drop to the third round
A pair of first-round talents slipped to the third round of the draft. Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox was picked 80th overall by the San Diego Padres. He was viewed as a late first-round prospect with a 97 mph fastball and a pair of plus secondary pitches in a changeup and slider.
Wilcox draws some injury concerns with his hard-throwing delivery. He also is a draft-eligible sophomore and can return back to school, which could be a reason for his drop in the draft. Regardless, the Padres used their extra pool money to snag a talented right-hander with impressive stuff. Wilcox may stay another year at Georgia, but if he signs with San Diego, it would be quite a value.
The same can be said for Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin, who was drafted 87th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies. Martin was viewed as another late first-round pick with supreme speed that’s been rated as high 75 to some scouts. His quick hands produce line drives to all fields, and he’s tapped into some power.
Swing-and-miss concerns have plagued Martin’s draft status, and his right-handed swing needs to be tinkered with to make the most of his potential at the plate. But Philadelphia can come away with another good value if Martin signs.
Boston Red Sox take a chance on Blaze Jordan
Before he arrived at DeSoto Central High School, Blaze Jordan was already highly touted for his power at the plate. He won his first national home run derby at 11 years old and another at 13, where he launched two 500-foot homers at Coors Field.
Jordan’s mammoth blasts over the years has garnered national attention, and it’s his supreme power that Boston invested in at No. 89 overall. Standing 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he has some of the best raw power for a prep bat thanks in part to a heavy load within his right-handed swing.
Jordan’s lack of athleticism makes him very limited defensively and there are several things he needs to improve upon at the plate. But the upside is there for a Major League slugger in the third round, and the Red Sox took advantage of it.
Reno’s Christian Chamberlain taken in fourth round
Oregon State left-handed pitcher and Reno High School graduate Christian Chamberlain was selected in the fourth round — 105th overall — by the Kansas City Royals. He is the 11th player in Reno High School history selected in the MLB Draft. Chamberlain sported a 0.96 ERA with 221 strikeouts in his junior and senior seasons with the Reno Huskies.
Chamberlain can return to Oregon State for his senior season if he chooses. The southpaw is equipped with a mid-90s fastball and a solid breaking ball against lefties.
— Isaiah Burrows