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Dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks Willing to Spend on MLB Draft Picks

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Arizona Diamondbacks willing to spend on MLB draft picks

2 comments by Nick Piecoro - Feb. 19, 2011 06:46 PM
The Arizona Republic

The Diamondbacks spent a franchise record on draft bonuses in 2009, doling out around $10 million.

Diamondbacks spring training 2011 | 2011 schedule

They're prepared to exceed that this year, team officials say, in a draft in which they hold two picks in the top 10 - Nos. 3 and 7 - and a supplemental first-round pick, No. 43.


"We knew we're going to have to spend money on this draft," Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said. "We look at it as an opportunity."

The Diamondbacks have the seventh pick in the draft as compensation for not signing last year's first-rounder, Barret Loux, whose physical exam turned up shoulder and elbow concerns.

Their supplemental first-rounder is compensation for Adam LaRoche's departure to the Washington Nationals as a Type B free agent.

"We'll spend the money necessary to sign the players that are the best players out there when our turn comes," Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick said.

Though it's far too early to predict draft orders, one player, Bubba Starling, a Kansas high school baseball and football star, is expected to be highly coveted. His adviser, Scott Boras, probably will seek an enormous bonus amount, likely one exceeding the typical cost for the third or seventh overall picks, selections that combined for about $8 million in last year's draft.

The club hasn't shied away from Boras clients in previous drafts (Stephen Drew, Max Scherzer) and established a then-bonus record when signing Justin Upton for $6.1 million in January 2006.

We have liftoff

The Diamondbacks got their first look at a living legend doing what he's known for. They watched outfielder Wily Mo Pena take batting practice.

"If he took nine swings, eight of them were homers," second baseman Kelly Johnson said of Pena's first round of batting practice.

"From there on, it didn't get much worse. It was pretty good. The wind was blowing out, and it was a smaller field and all. Regardless, almost every ball he hit would have been out in almost every park I've played in."

Pena, 29, is in camp on a minor-league deal. An enormous physical specimen - he's listed at 6 feet 3 and 270 pounds - Pena has a reputation for putting on tremendous displays of power in batting practice.

Once games start, breaking balls are known to give him trouble, but it hasn't kept him from resurfacing with yet another club; the Diamondbacks will be his seventh organization.

"He's been some team's project every single year, so it'd be really great if we had that big guy rolling," Johnson said.

On the curve

On the first day of full-squad workouts, manager Kirk Gibson and hitting coach Don Baylor stood behind an indoor batting cage as hitters faced left- and right-handed pitching machines flipping curveballs.

Gibson said the machines, which the club has used in the past, help hitters practice staying back on, rather than jumping out in front of, breaking balls.

"It takes recognition and discipline," Gibson said. "Once we start picking them up and we're equipped at putting a good swing on it, it's going to help us. We have not been good."

Short hop

First baseman Russell Branyan, signed Thursday to a minor-league contract, arrived at camp mid-day Saturday and is expected to participate in Sunday's workout.
Arizona Diamondbacks willing to spend on MLB draft picks
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