Diamondbacks First Round Draft Pick Fails Physical

In the 2010 Major League Baseball amateur draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks had the sixth overall pick in the first round. Leading up to the draft we heard several scenarios about draft strategy and how the Diamondbacks could utilize their picks. After a bountiful draft class in 2009 it was widely reported that Arizona would focus on more seasoned players who could make their way to the upper levels of the minor leagues quickly.

During last year’s draft the Diamondbacks went heavy on position players taking several who are making an immediate impact in the farm system albeit at the lower levels. With many of the everyday position players doing well it seemed logical that the team would focus this year on pitching.

The problem was, the 2010 draft class seemed relatively weak compared with recent years especially after the first two or three selections. There were no clear-cut standouts from which to choose so when draft day came it was anyone’s guess who the Diamondbacks would select.

When Commissioner Bud Selig walked to the microphone to announce the Diamondbacks first selection few in the room could guess who they might pick. They selected Texas A&M starting pitcher Barret Loux. Loux is a 6 foot 5 inch right-hander who has the build of someone capable of taking the ball every fifth day and pitching 200 plus innings a season.

Many in the industry questioned selecting Loux this high in the draft. Baseball America noted it was a stretch and was the only selection in the first round that the publication did not agree with. The Diamondbacks player development staff felt he warranted being taken in the first round and felt Loux would project to a top to middle of the rotation guy.

There were questions regarding his durability. Loux has had a history of arm problems and had recently undergone surgery on his pitching arm. The Diamondbacks were assured that the surgery was minor and that Loux was ready to pitch at the professional level.

After a month of negotiations, the Diamondbacks felt like they had a deal in place that would benefit both them as well as Loux. As part of this process they requested Loux undergo a physical. What they didn’t expect was that he would fail that physical. Medical staff found shoulder problems which caused the team to halt negotiations.

Here is where it begins to get a little sticky. The Diamondbacks obviously now have the upper hand in negotiations as they can dictate the contract terms based upon this new medical information. The question is, should they?

If Arizona cannot reach an agreement with Loux by August 16 the Diamondbacks would receive a compensatory pick in the 2011 draft. That pick would be the seventh overall selection. Given the lack of success of this year’s team that will likely mean the Diamondbacks will have two picks in the top ten.

Would the team be better off taking the draft pick next year in what is seen as a deeper draft class or should they negotiate a lower contract on a player who they know has shoulder problems? Given the Brandon Webb saga for 2009-2010 there is no timetable for whether a player can recover from shoulder problems and how effective they might be once they return to action.

If unsigned, Loux would re-enter the 2011 draft where he most likely would garner interest in a lower round. These types of decisions are paramount to the overall success of a mid-market team such as the Diamondbacks. They cannot afford to make mistakes in the draft if they hope to be competitive.

So while this story may be about one draftee, it points to yet another area in the organization that General Partner Ken Kendrick and President/CEO Derrick Hall must assess to make sure the team is making the right decisions in developing talent that will ultimately play at Chase Field. This story is far from being over.



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