June 9-11, 2009 was a formative few days for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Major League Baseball converged on Secaucus, New Jersey for the MLB Draft and Stephen Strasburg found himself on the Washington Nationals, and Mike Trout was the steal of the century at pick 25.
And the Arizona Diamondbacks added piece after valuable piece to their current roster.
As of June 7th, there are seven players on the active roster who have been drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley would be the eighth, but is currently on the disabled list). Four of them came from the 2009 draft: A.J. Pollock, Chris Owings, Paul Goldschmidt, and Chase Anderson.
Pollock was at the top of the draft board much like he is at the top of the lineup now. The three-time All-Big East selection at Notre Dame knew he could be an early pick, and saw his name come across the screen while surrounded by his family and friends.
“At Notre Dame, they expected you to carry yourself a certain way. That translated over to playing minor league baseball. You’re going to the big leagues and you’re held to that same standard.”
Chris Owings had just graduated high school a few days before the draft. He was selected with the 41st overall pick in the supplemental round, which is sandwiched between the first and second rounds of the draft. Teams can be awarded picks when they lose players to free agency. This pick was compensation for pitcher Juan Cruz signing with the Kansas City Royals.
Paul Goldschmidt tried to stay away from the draft and keep his mind occupied while it was going on. The eighth round pick did anything he could to not get caught up in where he might end up.
“You hear so many different things…from a lot of scouts,” Goldschmidt said. “You know a lot of the players being drafted. To sit there and try to watch every pick you can get either frustrated or excited. It can just be more of a roller coaster of emotions.”
Chase Anderson spent the duration of the draft the way he spent most summer days in the offseason: working for his father’s lawn mowing business. The University of Oklahoma pitcher was able to step away from work to find out he was a ninth round selection.
“It was (crazy), getting out of college that summer and then mowing lawns, which is what I did every summer, and then packing my bags and heading up north to Missoula.”
That is where Goldschmidt and Anderson first played together in the organization, and Anderson knew the first baseman was something special right off the bat (literally and figuratively).
“I knew he was going to be a good hitter because I threw an intersquad game before the season started,” Anderson said. “Two days before the season, I threw him a 2-0 changeup and he crushed it up the middle. “I said, ‘Ok, this guy is going to be really good.’ Look at him now; he’s one of the best players in baseball.”
The relationships developed as they came up the minors has helped the big league dynamic now that they have made it to the show.
“I know with us, it’s just been fun being in the 2009 draft class and just working your way up through the minor leagues,” Owings said. “You have a connection with some of the guys, and it’s fun moving all the way up through the minor leagues. Then when you make it here, it makes it a little more special.”
The four certainly have something special going. Owings continues to contribute offensively and defensively all around the infield. Anderson has helped bolster the rotation with a 3.12 ERA in 66.1 innings pitched in 2015. Pollock is in the best year of his career, batting .324 with 7 home runs and 25 RBIs. And America’s first baseman is third in Major League Baseball in batting average (.343), and tied for the most RBIs (47). Not bad for a guy who had to wait 245 picks to hear his name called.
And Goldschmidt thinks having young players go through the Diamondbacks’ development program can only help the team.
“You look at most of the successful teams in baseball, and they have a lot of guys who came through in the minor league system. They instill in you from an early age of how the organization wants the game to be played.”
The team hopes this year’s draft class will be in the same breath as 2009 as they instill the team’s values in the next era of Diamondbacks.