From the Osprey Research Dept. …

14 days before the 2012 Season opens in Billings
18 Days before the 2012 Home Opener against those pesky Voyagers from Great Falls

Tonight, the formation of the 2012 Missoula Osprey begins, with the start of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. (See preview here, and more about the way the D-backs may draft here.)

And, so it goes, the Arizona Diamondbacks have just one pick in the first and compensation rounds tonight – No. 26 in the order. They were last at that position in 2008, choosing left-handed pitcher Daniel Schlereth (2008), who would eventually pitch in three games in Missoula before moving on to South Bend. Schlereth would eventually make his MLB debut faster than any former Osprey in history, going less than a calendar year from making his pro debut to appearing on a Major League mound.

So what does tonight mean for Missoula? Possibly – a player who will be with the Osprey sometime this season.

Before you dismiss that as poppycock … this little nugget from the Osprey Research Dept. on first-round picks and playing in Missoula – four of the last five first-round picks who have signed their contracts (yes, that means they did not include Barret Loux, who was the sixth pick overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, but was not signed by the D-backs. That pick turned into Archie Bradley (2011), by the way.) have played in Missoula during their draft year.

The exception – 2011 top pick Trevor Bauer, who made his pro debut for Visalia (Class A Advanced), then pitched for Mobile (Double-A) the rest of the summer. Bauer is currently pitching for Triple-A Reno, and is likely getting a call-up by no later than September to the parent club.

The rest – Bradley, Bobby Borchering (2009), Schlereth and Jarrod Parker (2007) – all played for Missoula during their draft year.

If you still have your doubts, when the list gets expanded to Compensatory Round A players, well … it gets better for the Black, Blue and Gold. Since the 2007 season, seven of those 11 picks who signed, and five of the last seven, have played in Missoula. The list is impressive, too … Bradley, Andrew Chafin (2011), Borchering, Chris Owings (2009) and Mike Belfiore (2009) would be the five in the past three drafts, joining Schlereth and Parker.

Osprey fans, though, will remember past history all too well. For example, Parker’s placement (remember, he did not actually appear in a game for the Osprey, but he appears on a roster, thus he is credited for service. Besides,  he made a couple of road trips with the club, so that should count for something all of its own …) ended a five-year drought of top picks coming to Missoula – Sergio Santos (2002) was the last No. 1 pick to play for the Osprey in the same season he was drafted before Parker. The only other – Corey Myers in 1999.

Two more nuggets – The O’s received the top two picks in Loux’s non-signing year of 2010 (JR Bradley, Robby Rowland), and also placed the top four picks in 2008 (Schlereth, Bryan Shaw, Kevin Eichhorn and Ryne White) in Missoula.

We rest our case, but there is one big added element this season – the Arizona League Diamondbacks. Like the beginning of the Osprey time in Missoula, the D-backs now have an Arizona feeder team for the Osprey and Yakima Bears. For a while, the Bears and Osprey were the launching points for players drafted or coming into the US from the Dominican Republic to play for the first time.

Another difference to keep in mind – there are only 40 rounds of the draft now, down from 50 in the past. Which means there will be two keys to watch for … more free-agent signings and the potential for fewer ’12 draft picks making their debuts in the Northwest. And if the D-backs go with a young, raw outfielder – as the latest rumors have it – then he will likely be wearing Sedona Red this summer, at least to start.

We will be posting info on the draft picks as we get them here on Bird Droppings, and you can also check out the Facebook page for picks as they happen.

On to the rest of the day’s news …
– Just in case you’ve missed it, guess who is on a 12-game hitting streak? Oh yeah, Paul Goldschmidt (2009) happens … to be on one of those hit streaks. Dating back to May 19, Goldy is hitting .412 with nine runs scored, six doubles, four home runs and five RBIs. And it’s safe to say he’s not getting cheated at the plate. Not only is he hitting the ball successfully, it’s sounding like he is also hitting it square. And to all fields, too.

Adam Eaton (2010) is leading the way in votes for the Pacific Coast League in Triple-A All-Star balloting. Keep in mind, though, that the voting makes up only 1/3 of the components used to select All-Star starters and reserves. Jake Elmore (2008), at last report, was the leading vote-getter at second base. Both are still 1-2 in the PCL in batting average and on-base percentage, and are 2-3 in stolen bases. Elmore is ahead of Eaton in all three categories.

Good feature on former Osprey David Holmberg (2010), including his reaction to being traded to the D-backs organization.

Also good news on the Chase Anderson (2009) injury front … looks like whatever was ailing his right elbow has healed nicely. The debate will be put on hold, though, whether or not to convert him back to being a reliever.

We’ll post the first-round pick later tonight …

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