15 June 2011
This list excludes players who have already played in the majors this season (Barry Enright, Kam Mickolio, etc.) or have previously made their major league debut (Wily Mo Pena, Daniel Stange, etc.). I instead decided to focus on players who have not yet played a game in the Majors, and it just happens that none of them are on the 40-man roster. The D'Backs currently have only 38 men on their 40-man, so they could call up one these players if needed. So here are the Top 5 minor leaguers who could make their debut this year, ordered from least likely to most likely to be seen at some point this season.
#5) Ryan Wheeler, 3B
This decision was a difficult one, as Wheeler’s teammate A.J. Pollock is also having a terrific year. However Pollock missed all of 2010 after a surgery on his throwing arm, so it appears as though Wheeler is more major league ready. His hitting line does nothing to disprove that - .299/.369/.457 in a pitchers’ league is quite the accomplishment, and the Southern League rewarded him with an All-Star nod. His future as a major league regular is unknown, as Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook believes him to be a “fringy” defender with an “average” arm. Despite that, they believe him to be improving, and can have a future as an average third baseman. With Ryan Roberts coming down to earth after a stellar start, an injury to him or Melvin Mora could bring about a Ryan Wheeler call up.
Comments from Amit: It's nice to see Wheeler resurrect his prospect status after a disappointing 2010 season.
#4) Patrick Corbin, LHP
Outside of Tyler Skaggs, he was the player the D'Backs needed to have in the Dan Haren trade last July. He was drafted by the Angels in the 2nd round out of Chipola Junior College in Florida. After the trade last year, Corbin joined High-A Visalia and posted a WHIP of an even 1.00. This year at Double-A Mobile, he has posted a 6-2 record with a 3.96 ERA. While the ERA is somewhat high, his other peripheral stats are quite impressive. He as a K/BB ratio of 4.13, with a K/9 of 8.2, and BB/9 at 2.0. He averages 6IP per start after throwing 144.2 IP last year, so he appears to be durable. If a D'Backs starter gets injured and they want to try some new blood in the bigs, he could be an option. He is only 21 years old, so they want him to develop just a little more, but he is definitely capable of playing at baseball’s highest level right now.
Comments from Amit: Before Wednesday's start, Corbin had been on a stretch where he had allowed only 1 ER in 27.2 IP. I like Corbin a lot, but I think the Diamondbacks will be careful not to rush him.
#3 Wes Roemer, RHP
Roemer is another choice if the Diamondbacks want to give a rookie a shot. He was the 50th overall pick in 2007 by the D'Backs, and has played at every level from Low-A all the way up to Triple-A. This year he is back in Double-A Mobile and was considered a choice to start when Enright was sent down, but the team opted to go with the experienced Micah Owings instead. But it wasn’t for lack of credibility. Roemer’s line says 4-3 with a 3.54 ERA and a WHIP of 1.23. If durability is a question, he would point to his 162.2 IP in 2009 at High-A Visalia, his 165.1 IP in 2010 between Visalia and Mobile, and his 6.25 innings per start this year. He doesn’t strike out quite as many as Corbin, with a K/9 of only 6.4, but gives up just under 1 home run per 9 innings of work, which could fit nicely into the homer happy confines of Chase Field. He’s obviously past Double-A level, as was recently named as a Southern League All-Star.
Comments from Amit: I was hoping Roemer would get a chance when Galarraga was released, but the team went with Owings instead, who has done a fine job. Unfortunately, while Roemer started out really well, he has dropped off a little in his last few starts. His "stuff" is still not considered great by scouts, but he has shown a lot of toughness on the mound.
#2) Collin Cowgill, OF
A 5th round pick by the D'Backs in 2008, Cowgill has picked 2011 has his year to explode offensively. He has played from Low-A Yakima all the way to Double-A Reno, and this year plays his home games at Triple-A Reno. He is hitting .369/.436/.611 this year, with only 3 more Ks than BBs (33/30). In 63 games this year, he has 12 home runs, to go along with 60 runs, and 44 RBIs. In the Pacific Coast League, Cowgill ranks second in average (.369) and in total bases (154, one behind his teammate Pena). According to Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, Cowgill “sports the best outfield arm in the system,” but they don’t view him as a future starter because he “won’t have enough bat for an outfield corner or enough speed to play center field every day” so they see him has a fourth outfielder. His Triple-A numbers have been the best in his career, so he definitely has a chance. The most likely scenario for seeing Cowgill in Phoenix would be an injury to any of the starting outfielders.
Comments from Amit: Cowgill could also be a nice platoon partner for Gerardo Parra, since Parra struggles against LHP. The Diamondbacks are using Willie Bloomquist in that role now, but Cowgill might get a chance. Also, the team may call up a hitter when interleague play moves to the AL; Pena and Cowgill might be the top choices.
#1) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
What can we say about Paul Goldschmidt other than wow? He was a relatively low draft pick, being picked in the 8th Round out of Texas State in 2009. Scouts were curious if he could follow up last year’s California League MVP at High-A Visalia when he moved to the pitcher friendly Double-A Southern League at Mobile. Goldschmidt has silenced all his critics. This year he has hit to a tune of .348/.469/.687, giving him a Ruthian OPS of 1.156. He walks more than he strikes out, with 53 BB to only 46 K. He has been intentionally walked 11 times this year, and even casual fans are wondering when “Goldy” will arrive. He leads the Southern League in home runs (21), RBIs (59), total bases (160), runs scored (54), BB (53), slugging percentage (.687), OBP (.469), OPS (1.156, and he is the only Southern Leaguer to have an OPS over 1.000), and is third in average (.348) through 65 games. He was predictably named to the Southern League All-Star Team, and is a candidate to be the D'Backs representative in the Futures Game during All-Star Week in July. The acclaim for Goldschmidt goes on and on, as he has elevated himself to become one of the better hitting prospects in all of baseball. One injury to Juan Miranda could mean a call up for the most highly anticipated D'Backs prospect since Justin Upton.
Comments from Amit: Even if Miranda stays healthy, the team could decide to make a change at 1B. Manager Kirk Gibson still seems to trust Xavier Nady more, even though Nady's OPS is around .700 while Miranda's is 100 points higher. Another possibility is that Brandon Allen could move up to the Majors, with Goldschmidt advancing to AAA Reno.