D-backs select IF Drew Ellis 44th, C Daulton Varsho 68th in MLB Draft
The Arizona Diamondbacks went with another infielder in the 2017 MLB Draft by selecting Louisville’s Drew Ellis in the second round (44th overall) after picking Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith at No. 7.
They followed with a Round B competitive balance round selection of Wisconsin-Milwaukee catcher Daulton Varsho at 68th overall.
Ellis was the third-ranked third baseman in the class, per Baseball America, and also ranked as the seventh-best first baseman.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder slashed .367/.457/.729 for the Cardinals in his sophomore season, a campaign that included 61 RBI, 20 home runs and 18 doubles.
MLB.com’ scouting department ranked Ellis as the 61st-best prospect in the 2017 draft. Much like the D-backs’ first pick, Smith, the Cardinals infielder built his draft stock with his skills on offense.
Ellis’ best attribute is his right-handed power. He has a quick, compact swing and strength and leverage in his 6-foot-3 frame. He has walked almost as much as he has struck out in his two college seasons. He doesn’t sell out for home runs and has a chance to hit for both power and average.
He has played mostly third base this spring, shifting to first base when McKay pitches so Louisville can get prized freshman Tyler Fitzgerald into the lineup. Ellis is a decent defender at the hot corner, possessing an average arm but somewhat limited range because he lacks quickness. He’s similar to his predecessor at third on the Cardinals, 2016 Mets third-rounder Blake Tiberi, who had a bit more athleticism but a little less pop.
Varsho is the son of former MLB outfielder Gary Varsho and was named after his father’s Phillies teammate, Darren Daulton.
The catcher ranked eighth on Baseball America’s list of top catchers in the draft and was No. 98 on the website’s top-100 prospects list.
Varsho batted .362 with 39 RBI and 11 home runs as a junior this past season.
His offensive profile projects well, though it remains to be seen if he will remain at catcher as a professional, according to MLB.com.
He has a short, strong stroke and manages the strike zone well, giving him a chance to hit for average and power. He’s faster than most catchers, posting plus run times from home to first and showing good instincts on the basepaths.
Varsho also is agile behind the plate, receiving and blocking well. Some scouts wonder if he can stay at catcher because he lacks size and has below-average arm strength, though his quick feet help him get rid of throws in a hurry. Those who like his bat think he has a chance to cut it as a left fielder if he has to change positions.