D-backs draft pitcher with pedigree
Son of NFL standout, Schlereth thrives in pressure-filled spots
PHOENIX -- The D-backs weren't sure what exactly their Draft board would look like by the time the 26th pick of the first round came up Thursday, but they were plenty pleased to find University of Arizona left-handed pitcher Daniel Schlereth still there.
Schlereth highlighted the seven picks the D-backs made on the first day of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
"The way boards fall is always a challenge when you're picking where we did this year," D-backs scouting director Tom Allison said. "To see Daniel Schlereth's name there for us to take was exciting, because it allowed us to take a guy that we feel has an above-average Major League fastball and an above-average Major League curveball."
Schlereth, who is in Miami preparing for the NCAA Super Regional there, is looking forward to starting his professional career and thinks he could be in the big leagues by September.
"Going into this whole thing, I was told that I was going to be there by September no matter who I was going to," Schlereth said. "My feeling too, as a pitcher, I feel I can get there and help somebody by September, if not earlier, so that's my mindset going into this whole thing -- is get there as fast as I can and help someone's bullpen as fast as I can."
The D-backs may choose to be more cautious with Schlereth, who could begin his pro career at one of the organization's full-season Class A teams.
Talks with Schlereth's advisor, Mark Pieper of SFX, won't begin until after the University of Arizona is eliminated from postseason play.
Schlereth, 22, was selected in the eighth round last year by the A's, but elected to return to the Wildcats for his senior season. He threw consistently in the 93-94 mph range, but hit 97-98 during a weekend series against Stanford in mid-May, and that helped move him into the first round.
"He has established himself in a very good bullpen and had great success," Allison said. "We feel he has all the characteristics, the makeup, the ability to overcome adversity -- which are things that guys need to have at the Major League level."
The son of former NFL standout Mark Schlereth, he is described as having a football mentality who thrives on pitching in late, high-pressure situations.
"I would say I'm extremely competitive, aggressive on the mound, really laid back off the field," Schlereth said when asked to describe his personality. "I try to keep baseball on the field and not drag it with me in my personal life. I like to pound the strike zone. I'm not scared of anything or anybody. I compete and I give you everything I have on every pitch."
Allison saw Schlereth pitch in the Area Code Games before his senior year of high school and saw him display above-average Major League velocity.
"He's had that in his arm," Allison said. "He has a very quick arm."
Schlereth throws a power curve around 80-82 mph and has a plus changeup that comes in around 79-80 mph. Physically, he resembles Philadelphia's J.C. Romero, who has pitched in the big leagues for 10 seasons. Healthy this year, Schlereth had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery his senior year in high school and missed nearly a month last year with a rib/oblique injury.
D-backs' top five selections
|26.||LHP||Daniel Schlereth||U of Arizona|
|43.||LHP||Wade Miley||SE Louisiana U|
|73.||RHP||Bryan Shaw||Cal St Long Beach|
|104.||RHP||Kevin Eichhorn||Aptos HS (Calif.)|
|138.||OF||Ryne White||Purdue U|
|Complete D-backs Draft results >|
This year for the Wildcats, Schlereth was 2-0 with a 1.81 ERA in 34 relief appearances. Though he has a reputation for struggling at times with his command, he fanned 76 in 54 2/3 innings this year, while walking 20.
"This year, his control has been outstanding," Allison said.
Part of the reason for the improved command is that he was over his rib injury while the other has to do with words he heard from Arizona head coach Andy Lopez.
"He just kind of got it in my head that if I throw strikes, I'm going to be dominant," Schlereth said. "I think I did that this year. I mean just going after guys, not pitching to contact, but pitching in the strike zone."
Here's a brief look at the other players chosen by the D-backs on Thursday:
LHP Wade Miley, supplemental round (43rd overall): One of the nation's best strikeout pitchers, the junior at Southeastern Louisiana University has a plus breaking ball which is somewhere between a slider and curve.
RHP Bryan Shaw, second round (73): A power closer for Long Beach State, he struck out 35 and walked six in 29 1/3 innings. "He features a solid fastball and an average slider," Allison said of the junior.
RHP Kevin Eichhorn, third round (104): The son of former big league hurler, Mark, the senior at Aptos (Calif.) High School was participating in his graduation while the Draft was taking place. He has plus command and should grow from his 6-foot, 170-pound frame as he matures.
OF Ryan White, fourth round (138): A junior at Purdue, he impressed the D-backs with his left-handed swing and the way he grinds his at-bats.
OF Collin Cowgill, fifth round (168): The senior at the University of Kentucky missed his junior year after having surgery on his hammate bone. He was a catalyst for the Wildcats and has a good approach at the plate.
SS Justin Parker, sixth round (198): The older brother of Jarrod Parker, the D-backs' first pick (ninth overall) in last year's Draft, Allison first met Justin while scouting one of Jarrod's games last year. A junior at Wright State University, he got better as the season went on, and the D-backs like his potential as a hitter.
Prior to the start of the first round, the D-backs selected pitcher Bob "Peach Head" Mitchell in the ceremonial Negro Leagues Player Draft.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.