14 November 2009
The Diamondbacks' minor league system had taken a big hit over the last few years. The Dan Haren trade sent 6 top prospects to Oakland, including Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, and Aaron Cunningham. Since 2007, the D'backs had graduated Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Miguel Montero, Max Scherzer, and Gerardo Parra to the Major League club, and had also traded away Alberto Callaspo, Micah Owings, Dustin Nippert, Tony Pena, and Emilio Bonifacio. That left the farm system in 2009 ranked near the bottom in the majors, and almost completely devoid of elite hitting prospects.
In just a few months, however, the Diamondbacks have really turned things around, thanks primarily to 7 picks within the first two rounds of the 2009 draft. As a result, only 3 players from last year's top 10 list are among the organization's top prospects this year. Most of the players on this year's list are still at the A Ball level and a few years away, but the upside potential is very high.
1. Jarrod Parker (20), RHP
Visalia, High A: 19 IP, 1-0. 0.95 ERA, 0.842 WHIP, 21K, 4BB, 0 HR
Mobile, AA: 78.1 IP, 4-5, 3.68 ERA, 1.481 WHIP, 74K, 34 BB, 2 HR
A 6-1 righthander, Jarrod Parker was drafted out of high school as the #9 pick overall in 2007. He has shown a fastball consistently in the mid-90s, and also has a plus slider, curve, and an improving change-up. He dominated at High A Visalia, and was moved up to the Southern League as a 20 year old. Although his overall AA numbers weren't great, he got a lot of strikeouts, only gave up 2 HR in 78 IP, and got a lot of ground balls. Parker was ranked as the #5 prospect in the Southern League by Baseball America.
Parker was shut down in July last year, and underwent Tommy John surgery with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham on October 28th. Before the injury, Parker was one of a handful of pitchers in the minors to have ace, Cy Young Award potential. Early reports are that the surgery was successful, and he should be at full strength by spring training 2011. You can follow Parker's progress on his blog: http://jarrodbparker.mlblogs.com/.
Could become the next: Roy Oswalt
2. Brandon Allen (23), 1B, LHB
2009 (AZ): 116 PA, 202/284/385, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 13R, 0/0 SB, 12BB/40K
2009 (AAA): 228 PA, 306/373/563, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 39R, 6/0 SB, 20BB/38K
2009 (AA): 274 PA, 290/372/452, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 39R, 1/2 SB, 30BB/47K
Brandon Allen came to the D'backs from the Chicago White Sox in the Tony Pena trade. After hitting 306/373/563 with 13 HR in 228 plate appearances in AAA, Allen was ranked as the #14 prospect in the Pacific Coast League. He is a good athlete and has outstanding power. Allen is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, and will be in the AFL Rising Stars game on Saturday, November 6th. He's the only hitter on this list likely to make an impact in 2010.
Could become the next: Ryan Howard
3. Bobby Borchering (18), 3B, S
2009 (Missoula - Rookie League) 93 PA, 241/290/425, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 10 R, 0/0 SB, 5 BB/27K
Bobby Borchering was drafted #16 overall in the 2009 draft, and was considered the best high school power hitter in the draft. Borchering, a switch-hitter, has power from both sides of the plate, and should also hit for a high average. He struggled initially in the Pioneer League, but hit well in the playoffs, going .321 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 6 playoff games. It remains to be seen if Borchering's defense will allow him to stay at 3B, or if he will eventually move to 1B.
Could become the next: Chipper Jones.
4. Daniel Schlereth (23), LHP
2009 (ARI): 1-4, 18.1 IP, 5.89 ERA, 1.636 WHIP, 15 BB, 22 K, 1 HR
2009 (AA/AAA): 0-0, 27.2 IP, 0.98 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 17 BB, 40K, 1 HR
Daniel Schlereth was the Diamondbacks' first round pick in the 2008 draft, #26 overall, from the University of Arizona. Schlereth underwent Tommy John surgery in his freshman year, but came back without any loss in velocity. A hard-throwing lefty, Schlereth combines a mid-90s fastball with an above-average curveball, and has a closer's mentality. Schlereth has been very tough to hit in the minors, allowing only 21 hits in 39.2 career IP, while striking out 60. The big negative for Schlereth has been the walks - 23 in 39.2 IP in the minors, and 15 in 18.1 major league IP. He has used exclusively as a relief pitcher.
Could become the next: Billy Wagner
5. Ryan Wheeler (21), 1B, LHB
2009 (A): 316 PA, 361/462/540, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 48R, 7/5 SB, 42 BB/32K
Ryan Wheeler was the Diamondbacks 5th round pick out of Loyola Marymount Univeristy in the 2009 June draft. He played most of the year at Yakima in the Northwest League, and then finished up at South Bend in the Midwest League. He led the Northwest League in on-base percentage, and finished second in batting average and slugging percentage. The D'Backs named Wheeler their Minor League Player of the Year, which is a rare distinction for a short-season minor leaguer. Wheeler played some LF for Yakima, but 1B looks like his best position.
Could become the next: Left-handed Lance Berkman
6. Matt Davidson (19), 3B, RHB
2009 (A): 270 PA, 241/312/319, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 29R, 0/2 SB, 21BB/75K
Along with Borchering, Davidson was considered one of the top 3 high school power hitters in last year's draft. He had committed to USC, but decided to sign with the D'backs after being drafted with the #35 pick. While in high school, Davidson won the Home Run Derby at the AFLAC All-American game at Dodger Stadium (with a wood bat). Although he didn't hit much for Yakima in the Northwest League, Davidson was the youngest starter in the league. There is a lot of potential with Davidson, but he is far away from the majors.
Could become the next: Matt Williams
7. A.J. Pollock (21), CF, RHB
2009 (A): 277 PA, 271/319/376, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 36R, 10/4 SB, 16 BB/36K
A.J. Pollock was the #17 pick in the first round of the 2009 draft, coming out of Notre Dame, and then played for South Bend in the Midwest League. Pollock was the MVP of the Cape Cod league in 2008, and was considered one of the most polished college hitters in the draft. He has good speed and is a fine defender in CF, and is expected to move quickly through the minors. There is some concern about Pollock's power, but most scouts expect him to eventually hit 10-15 HRs in the majors, with plenty of doubles and triples.
Could become the next: Right-handed Mark Kotsay
8. Marc Krauss (22), LF, LHB
2009 (A): 130 PA, 304/377/478, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 14R, 0/1 SB, 14 BB/21K
Marc Krauss was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft, the #64 pick overall, from Ohio University. He led the Mid-American Conference with 27 HR and 70 RBI, and led the Cape Cod League in 2008 in RBI and On-Base percentage. Defensively, Krauss is probably limited to LF, where he is only adequate, but the D'backs hope that his bat will make up for it. Kraus was one of the first players to sign from last year's draft, but suffered an ankle injury after one month that ended his season early. The Diamondbacks will try to move him aggressively through the system.
Could become the next: Lyle Overbay
9. Wade Miley (23), LHP
2009 (A/High A): 128.2 IP, 6-10, 4.20 ERA, 1.383 WHIP, 33 BB/102 K, 8 HRA
Wade Miley was selected by the Diamondbacks with the 43rd pick in the 2008 draft out of Southeastern Louisiana University. He only has a low-90s fastball, but does have an above-average breaking pitch that he can throw for strikes. Miley gets plenty of ground balls and does a good job of keeping the ball in the park. To date, he has decent K/BB (3:1) and K/9 (7.3) ratios, but has given up more hits (10.1/9 IP) than expected. He probably profiles as middle of the rotation starter.
Could become the next: Jarrod Washburn
10. Mike Belfiore (21), LHP
2009 (Rookie): 58 IP, 2-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 13 BB, 55K, 2 HRA
Another selection in the 2009 draft, Mike Belfiore was the #45 selection out of Boston College. He is probably best known for throwing 9 2/3 inning of relief in the marathon 25 inning game against Texas during the NCAA Regionals (and scaring away some scouts who worried about his arm). Belfiore has a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, with a mid-80s slider and a decent changeup. He was primarily a closer (and 1B) in college, but began his pro career as a starter in Missoula, with fairly good success.
Could become the next: Joe Saunders
11. Kevin Eichhorn, RHP (19) - Injuries have limited the son of former major league pitcher Mark Eichhorn to only 18.2 IP since he was drafted in 2008, but he has struck out 25.
12. Chris Owings, SS (18) - 41st pick in 2009 draft; Solid across-the-board skills, and hit .306 in his Pioneer League debut
13. Josh Collmenter, RHP (23) - 4.15 ERA for High A Visalia, but averaged 9.4K/9 IP and only allowed 8 HR in 145 IP
14. David Nick, 2B/SS (19) - 4th Round pick in 2009, hit 286/351/440 with 16 SB in the Pioneer League.
15. Pat McAnaney, LHP (23) - 146Ks in 147 IP for Visalia in the California League, but gave up too many hits and walks (1.42 WHIP)
16. Trevor Harden, RHP (22) - Pitched well in the Pioneer League (1.91 ERA, 13.6K/9) and the Midwest League (2.39 ERA, 7.4 K/9), but struggled when called up to High A Visalia (4.43 ERA, 6.2 K/9)
17. Bryan Shaw, RHP (22) - 4.70 ERA for High A Visalia, but did strike out 8.0/9 IP with a 1.267 WHIP.
18. Evan Frey, OF (23) - After .400 OBPs in A/High A, dropped down to .348 OBP in AA Mobile. Very little power, but did steal 31 bases and can play CF.
19. Keon Broxton, OF (19) - Outstanding athlete who hit 11 HR with 6 SB in his Pioneer League debut, but also struck out 93 times in 297 plate appearances
20. Eric Smith, RHP (21) - 2nd round pick in 2009; gets ground balls, but needs to improve his control (4.7 BB/9)
21. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (22) - 8th round pick from Texas State led the Pioneer League with 18 HRs. Can he keep it up at higher levels?
Others who could reach the majors in 2010: Cole Gillespie, OF (25), John Hester, C (26), Bryan Augenstein, SP (23), Cesar Valdez (24), Hector Ambriz, RHP (24), Tony Barnette, RHP (24), Barry Enright, RHP (23)