Who Drew This?

The Arizona Diamondbacks held the fifteenth overall pick in the 2004 amateur draft. Their plan was to pick a college pitcher as is their usual draft strategy. What they found was a gift. Stephen Drew who was regarded as the best overall position player in the draft had plummeted and was available when the Diamondbacks selection came up. Drew’s slide had nothing to do with his baseball skills. Instead, it was fear. Fear of sign ability. Drew had hired Scott Boras as his agent and rumors the week before the draft had frightened many clubs that if they used their pick on Drew they were in for a prolonged negotiation that would cost them some serious money.

General Manager Joe Garagiola Jr. didn’t blink at the prospects of signing Drew to a contract. So the Diamondbacks took a gamble and made Stephen their 2004 first round pick. Other clubs were right in their assessment that Scott Boras would be a difficult person to negotiate with as his demands were significantly higher than even the Diamondbacks had expected. Besides the contract terms there were other issues clouding this negotiation. During this time Jerry Colangelo was the general partner of the Diamondbacks. There was an internal battle raging where the other partners within the Diamondbacks wanted Colangelo out of the Diamondbacks. His free spending and lack of fiscal responsibility with deferred salaries were making the viability of the franchise questionable. Further, the commissioner’s office decided to weigh in on the negotiation to ensure that the Diamondbacks did not overpay setting a dangerous precedent for future draft classes. So in the midst of all of these sub-plots, Stephen Drew remained in limbo. He could have and nearly did decide this was not worth it and return to Florida State for his senior year. But instead after nearly a year of negotiation a deal was finally reached and Stephen Drew became a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Drew’s first stop in his professional career was Lancaster California where he started the 2005 season with the JetHawks. In 38 games Stephen Drew hit for a .389 average with 10 home runs and 39 runs batted in. It was obvious that Drew needed to be challenged more so he was promoted to the Tennessee Smokies who are the AA affiliate for the Diamondbacks. Drew played in 27 games in Tennessee where his progress was hampered by an injury. Even being hurt he showed flashes of brilliance earning him a spot in the Arizona Fall League. This is typically a league to showcase those players who are being fast tracked to the major leagues. Stephen did not disappoint hitting .337 with six home runs and 17 RBI against the games brightest young stars. Not bad for his first season playing professional ball.

As the 2006 season began, there was talk of when not if Stephen Drew would join the Diamondbacks. He began the season in Tucson as the regular shortstop for the Sidewinders. His batting average remained a respectable .284 and he hit 13 home runs and accumulated 51 RBI. He was named as a representative of the Futures game during All-Star weekend. When Craig Counsell suffered a broken rib during last Friday’s game against the Brewers, the future suddenly got a lot closer. Stephen Drew was recalled and found himself in the starting line-up Saturday. This was not the series everyone waited for, that would happen on Monday when the Diamondbacks hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stephen, the new starting shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks would for the first time play against his brother JD Drew who is the starting right fielder for the Dodgers.

Stephen and JD’s parents arrived from Georgia to see their two sons play against each other for the first time in their lives. During the game Stephen collected his first major league hit with a single to left field. He moved to second on a hit by pitcher Enrique Gonzalez then stole third base marking his first major league steal. To top it off he made two outstanding defensive plays to secure a win for the Diamondbacks. Stephen Drew is beginning to show why it was important for the Diamondbacks to take the risk at the fifteenth pick because players like him don’t come around every year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *