This time last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks were selecting prep shortstop Matt McClain with their first round pick.
After McClain opted for UCLA over the pros, the Diamondbacks were rewarded the 26th overall pick in this year’s draft.
With that pick, the team selected 6-foot-4, 172-pound left-handed pitcher Blake Walston from New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina.
According to MaxPreps, Walston gave up two earned runs in 68.2 innings while striking out 129 batters. Two earned runs.
The southpaw is also a state championship winning quarterback, throwing for 4,340 yards and 39 touchdowns his junior year.
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) June 4, 2019
Walston is currently committed to North Carolina State, and there were some signability questions surrounding him, potentially scaring off a few clubs.
The Diamondbacks are positioned nicely to deal with that. With their pile of early picks, they have over $16 million bonus pool money to allocate and could pay a bit above Walston’s slot to sweeten the pro ball offer.
According to Baseball America, Walston is “one of the exciting, projectible arms in the 2019 class.”
He has a clean arm action and delivery, and scouts note that his plus athleticism translates well to the mound, allowing him to be one of the best natural strike-throwers in the high school class. At the moment, Walston throws his fastball in the 86-91 mph range, topping out in the low 90s, but scouts are convinced that he’ll start to throw harder once he gains more physicality. He also has terrific feel to spin a breaking ball that projects as a plus pitch in the future, and he has shown a solid changeup as well.
Walston joins fellow prep star Corbin Carroll as the Diamondbacks’ first two selections.