D-Backs' Athletic Drafting Strategy: No Shohei Ohtani Hype

Arizona Diamondbacks' Drafting Strategy Emphasizes Versatility and Potential

by Nouman Rasool
D-Backs' Athletic Drafting Strategy: No Shohei Ohtani Hype

The Arizona Diamondbacks have meticulously crafted a decision-making process in their MLB Drafts, culminating in the current success of their major league team halfway through this season. The organization has placed a strong emphasis on building a farm system that combines pure athleticism with skill development, with the hope of nurturing promising talent.

Despite lacking a high first-round draft pick in 2023, General Manager Mike Hazen and his team have once again prioritized selecting athletes with multi-dimensional skillsets. The draft commenced with the choice of Stanford shortstop Tommy Troy, followed by infielder Gino Groover in the second round.

Additionally, the team utilized their competitive balance selection to acquire Caden Grice, a two-way player known for his imposing stature and powerful left-handed pitching. While the Diamondbacks have shown a tendency to favor college players over high school prospects, the underlying trend of seeking versatile athletes remains consistent.

Embracing Versatility: Hazen Values Dynamic Athletes

Reflecting on their drafting strategy, Hazen expressed confidence in the value of dynamic, multifaceted players within their system. He highlighted the developmental advantages that versatile athletes possess compared to those who specialize in a single aspect of the game.

Of the recent draft picks, Grice exemplifies extreme athleticism, but the Diamondbacks intend to focus his professional development exclusively on pitching. Standing at an imposing 6 feet 6 inches, he possesses both an impressive fastball that reaches 95 mph and the ability to crush 18 home runs during his tenure at Clemson University.

The organization sees great potential in honing his pitching skills, jokingly dubbing him "Shohei 2.0" in reference to the Los Angeles Angels' two-way superstar, Shohei Ohtani. While the idea of pursuing two-way players like Ohtani may be tempting, Hazen acknowledges the immense challenge in finding someone even remotely comparable.

The value of having a player who can contribute effectively in both pitching and hitting roles is undeniable, essentially providing two roster spots in one. However, the practical difficulty of excelling in both aspects of the game cannot be overstated.

Hazen admires Ohtani's incredible abilities and acknowledges the rarity of his talent. Thus, the Diamondbacks have settled on a more realistic approach: identifying versatile athletes who can provide options either on the field or on the mound, but not both.

Hazen acknowledges a recurring pattern in their recent draft selections, noting that Troy, their 12th overall pick, fits the mold of a smaller player with power and exceptional athleticism capable of playing various infield positions, primarily shortstop.

By adhering to their drafting philosophy, the Arizona Diamondbacks hope to cultivate a roster teeming with multi-skilled athletes who can contribute significantly, whether as position players or pitchers. While the pursuit of the next Shohei Ohtani may remain an elusive dream, the organization remains committed to identifying and nurturing talent that aligns with their strategic vision.