The Arizona Diamondbacks are next up in our prospect series. The Diamondbacks had one of the Top Two drafts this past June, and they needed it, as you will find no one in our prospect series that has as many 2009 draftees listed among their Top Prospects ( 7 in the Top 10) as the Diamondbacks. This is an organization that has very little talent ready to contribute at the Big League level in 2009, has their Top Prospect out injured for the entire season, and between recent deals with the Tigers and Cubs has even further thinned out their ranks. The good news though is that, when he is healthy, they have one of the best pitching prospects in the Minors, and they grabbed a very solid groups of bats in this past June’s draft. Providing that these prospects develop as expected, the Diamondbacks have an excellent opportunity to jump quite a few places in next year’s rankings.
1) Jarrod Parker, RHP (2009 – Dominance 69; Stamina 65; HRrate 49; Control 57)
At one point, mid-summer, last season, we felt Parker had ascended to the position of best pitching prospect in the Minor Leagues. That’s right, ahead of Bumgarner, ahead of Feliz, ahead of Matusz—ahead of all of them that were playing in late June, early July. By late July things seemed to start falling apart, as he began losing velocity and struggling with control. The Diamondbacks shut him down until Fall Instructionals, hoping to avoid the surgery that finally became necessary in late October. Parker is expected to miss the entire 2010 season. He won’t likely have regained his control (something that has always presented its challenges) until late 2011. While Parker still possesses some of the highest ‘upside’ of any hurler in the Minors, his ‘certainty’ quotient has been lowered considerably. Expect a return in 2011, where Parker will still be but 22yo, and hope that he comes all the way back, as he could be a ‘special’ arm at the front of the Diamondbacks’ rotation.
2) Bobby Borchering, 3B (2009 Performance Scores – Power 65; First Base Rate 22; Discipline 28; Speed 29)
Forget all of the Chipper Jones comps that have been bandied about. Borchering isn’t as nimble as Jones, and has more power potential. We rated Borchering as the #5 player available in last June’s draft, and had him clearly as the best prep position player. He has tremendous bat speed and attacks the plate while maintaining reasonable plate discipline. His power potential will play at any spot on the Diamond. The downside, while Borchering actually led his Missoula team in the Pioneer League (PIO) playoffs, he had struggled a fair amount with contact rate and patience during his PIO debut. His lack of speed is a negative, and while we believe he will play at least a few years at third base, with a solid arm, in the Majors, he is likely to eventually end up at first base. Borchering should begin 2010 in the MWL, a league not known for its hitter-friendliness, so don’t be surprised if Borchering again struggles early on. But make no mistake, this is the best prep hitter in the 2009 draft class, and he clearly has ‘all-star’ potential.
Grade A -
3) Brandon Allen, 1B (2009 Performance Scores – Power 77; First Base Rate 62; Discipline 55; Speed 48)
Despite a standout 2009, we just can’t shake that feeling that Allen is the latest in a long line of White Sox top prospects that Kenny Williams has dealt before they have been ‘exposed’. Diamondback fans are all too familiar with the story line, having to look no further than Chris Young to find an example. Don’t get us wrong, Allen’s power is for real. His PCL performance rated #2 in that League last season. The bat has enough ceiling to be a Major League average first baseman, and he already has over 100 MLB ABs—as a 23yo. But we have our concerns…starting with the 35% strikeout rate he posted once he reached Arizona. When you add to that a relatively unimpressive performance the first half of the season, prior to the trade to the Diamondbacks, a glove that will certainly limit him to 1B or DH, and a rather abysmal showing in the AZFL, and one begins to wonder what the ‘certainty’ factor is. After his AZFL performance, and with Connor Jackson apparently healthy again, Allen could very well find himself back in AAA to open the 2010 season. We will have to see more before we are sold.
4) AJ Pollock, OF (2009 Performance Scores – Power 43; First Base Rate 48; Discipline 74; Speed 60)
Pollock was considered one of the more polished college hitters available in the 2009 draft. He has tremendous athleticism, plus plate discipline, and solid contact skills. Defensively he shows the skills that should allow him to stay in CF. However, we aren’t as sold on his ‘upside’, as are others. Pollock had a 2009 collegiate season that rated in the Top 30 among draft eligible players. We had him rated #24, entering draft day. As one of the more advanced players, the Diamondbacks assigned him to the MWL, where he got in 255, less than impressive, ABs. The Diamondbacks envision Pollock as a League average top of the order CF. We see that as his ceiling, and fear he may be closer to a 4th OF type, when all is settled. Our expectation is that he will move up to Hi-A to start 2010. He will have to show us more.
5) Matt Davidson, 3B/1B (2009 Performance Scores – Power 40; First Base Rate 39; Discipline 36; Speed 27)
One of the more difficult players to get a read on, Davidson finished his senior season on a tear, and many considered him neck-and-neck with Borchering, as the best prep power hitter. Entering the draft, we had him rated #18 and really feel the Diamondbacks got a bargain, when he was there for the taking at #35. In fact, the Diamondbacks actually had him debut at a higher level than Borchering. That said, he struggled in the NWL, posting a .631 OPS, a 26% strikeout rate, and hitting only 2 HRs in nearly 300 PAs. When comparing him to Borchering, Borchering has faster hands through the strike zone and has a slightly better chance to stick at 3B for longer. Davidson tends to try to ‘muscle’ the ball at times and will need more refinement to his hitting approach. The good thing for the Diamondbacks is that they will have them both in the system. Get used to the Borchering/Davidson comparisons, as they will likely spend 2010 in South Bend, splitting time at third base, and fighting each other for ABs. We are high on Davidson’s ceiling…but less enthusiastic about his ‘certainty’.
6) Marc Krauss, LF (2009 Performance Scores – Power 72; First Base Rate 59; Discipline 65; Speed 29)
We felt that Krauss, an Ohio University product, was one of the more underrated players in the 2009 draft. He posted the 5th best Performance score among draft-eligible hitters, and we had him rated as the 35th best player in the draft. Again, we felt he was a bargain for the Diamondbacks in the 2nd round. Krauss debuted in full season A-ball, and posted the 25th best Performance score in his brief stint there before ending his season early with an ankle injury. Krauss is a LF/1B type that is going to go as far as his considerable bat takes him. The injury should not have too serious long-term effects, as Krauss was never the speediest player to begin with. We like his bat—a lot, however his ceiling is limited by his lack of premium defensive position. While we could see him as the starting LF in the Diamondback OF, as early as 2011, we also have little difficulty envisioning him as a 4th OF/platoon type that struggles to find premium ABs. He should start 2010 in Hi-A and move rapidly.
7) Ryan Wheeler, 1B (2009 Performance Scores – Power 70; First Base Rate 78; Discipline 76; Speed 52)
Seven players into the list, and Wheeler is already the 5th player selected in the most recent June’s draft. Wheeler is another quality collegiate bat that had posted a Top 50 Performance score among draft eligible position players in 2009. That was actually a disappointment when compared to the 3rd best Performance score he posted in the NWL in his debut. Wheeler has the complete hitting package, with plus power and contact skills, and advanced plate discipline. Even his speed is relatively average for a first baseman. If he had more defensive versatility, he would rate significantly higher. That said, he should provide adequate defense and a solid target at 1B. There isn’t a lot of negatives here, and the only reason he rates this far down the list, is that there are players with considerable upsides already ahead of him. We actually like Wheeler better than Brandon Allen, but given his pro experience consists of only short-season ball and a handful of MWL playoff ABs, he doesn’t yet score as high on the certainty scale to rank as high. Expect Wheeler to join Davidson and Borchering in South Bend, to open 2010, but move rather quickly.
8) Bryan Augenstein, RHP (2009 – Dominance 60; Stamina 64; HRrate 50; Control 75)
Augenstein, a 7th round pick in the 2007 draft, is the prototypical low-ceiling, high-floor, college right-hander that usually doesn’t excite many on lists like this. On pure stuff, Augenstein falls considerably short, as he features a hi-80s fastball with only fringy secondary offerings. But that hasn’t stopped Augenstein from getting much more out of it, as he posted the 18th and 25th best Peformance scores in the MWL and CAL in 2008, before posting the #8 score in the SOL and the 10th best score in the PCL in 2009. While we find it difficult to rate Augenstein higher—considering his lack of ‘stuff’, we also find it difficult to ignore what he has done. It may very well end up that Augenstein is little more than a solid middle reliever at the next level, but it looks likely that Augenstein will see plenty of opportunity at a big league career, and still could fill-out a rotation. He should compete for a roster spot in Arizona this spring.
9) Chris Owings, SS (2009 Performance Scores – Power 46; First Base Rate 40; Discipline 50; Speed 50)
A supplemental first round pick, Owings is one of the few players that we feel was a Diamondback ‘overdraft’. While a solid offensive player, that rates solid skills across the board, Owings lacks any plus skills. Additionally, he isn’t the most patient of hitters. He still posted the #7 Performance score in his PIO debut. Defensively, he has the potential to play SS at the next level, but looks to us to be more of a second baseman or an utility IF type. As you can tell, the Diamondbacks are higher on Owings than we are. It isn’t that we don’t like him, we just aren’t excited by his ceiling. Expect to see him with a number of players on this list, in South Bend, in 2010.
Grade B -
10) Mike Belfiore, LHP (2009 – Dominance 59; Stamina 61; HRrate 71; Control 68)
Another Diamondback supplemental first round pick in 2009, Belfiore becomes the 7th 2009 draft pick in the Top 10. Belfiore possesses a Lo-90s fastball, that he keeps down—limiting HRs and flyballs. His secondary offerings show potential, but remain ‘developing’ after pitching in relief in college. His PIO debut went very well, as Belfiore posted the #5 Performance score. Our concern is that Belfiore doesn’t have enough depth in his repertoire to succeed in a Big League rotation, and doesn’t possess enough pure ‘stuff’ to pitch at the back of a bull pen. Caught in the middle, that leaves him looking like a likely middle relief candidate and that doesn’
11) Rossmel Perez, C (2009 Performance Scores – Power 28; First Base Rate 67; Discipline 79; Speed 34)
Perez was considered primarily a defensive backstop heading into the 2009 season, but despite playing most of the season as a 19yo in the MWL, he showed some life in the underlying skills that are important predictors of future success, with a .343 OBP and nearly as many walks as strikeouts. He finished with the #21 Performance score in the MWL. This is a plus defender at catcher, and with flashes of some offensive talent, he now finds himself clearly on the prospect radar screen. He should spend 2010 in the CAL, and that may provide the catalyst for a breakout offensive year.
12) Josh Collmenter, RHP (2009 – Dominance 66; Stamina 70; HRrate 49; Control 48)
The strength of Collmenter’s 2009 season gets somewhat obscured by pitching in the CAL, but, despite being a tad old for the League, Collmenter finished with a Top 25 Performance score. He dominated younger hitters, fanning more than a batter per inning pitched. Collmenter has a large frame, that could lead to being a back-of-the-rotation innings eater. He will however have to show continued improvement in AA in 2010.
13) Wade Miley, LHP (2009 – Dominance 40; Stamina 74; HRrate 48; Control 66)
Any way you look at it, 2009 has to be considered a disappointment for Miley, a supplemental first round pick in the 2008 draft. Most concerning to us was his inability to miss bats, as a 22yo pitching in the MWL. He only fanned 7 batters per 9IP, and he allowed opposing hitters to bat .288 against him. Miley’s ‘stuff’ is merely adequate to begin with, but he should have dominated more in a pitcher’s league. Expect 2010 to be a challenge for Miley, as he likely is facing the prospect of starting in the CAL. If he doesn’t demonstrate considerably more, he will plummet down this list.
Grade C+ Prospects –
14) Victor Capellan, RHP; 16) Kevin Eichorn, RHP; 17) Kevin Mulvey, RHP; 18) Bryan Shaw, RHP; 19) Raywilly Gomez, 3B; 20) David Nick, SS; 21) Patrick McAnaney,LHP; 22) Reynaldo Navarro, SS; 23) Eric Smith, RHP; 24) Evan Frey, CF; 25) Barry Enright, RHP; 26) Trevor Harden, RHP; 27) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B; 28) Ender Inciarte, LF; 29) Sean Coughlin, 1B; 30) Alfredo Marte, LF; 31) Mark Hallberg, 2B; 32) Gerson Montilla, 2B; 33) Collin Cowgill, OF; 34) Keon Broxton, OF.
Grade C Prospects –
Tony Barnette; Pedro Ciriaco; Ryan Cook; Josh Ellis; Jacob Elmore; Cole Gillespie; Matt Helm; John Hester; Orlando Mercado; Roque Mercedes; Raul Navarro; Jordan Norberto; Miguel Pena; Andrea Pizziconi; Wes Roemer; Patrick Schuster; James Skelton; Daniel Stange; Bobby Stone; Daniel Taylor; Matt Tora; Cesar Valdez.
Feel free to post any questions and or comments. We will try to answer them in our weekly Mailbag segment.
You can find an explanation of our grades here Diamond Futures Annual Prospect Rankings Series and an explanation of our 2009 Performance Scores here Do-It-Yourself - Understanding Performance Evaluation. The Performance scores represent the player’s performance relative to the leagues that they played in during the 2009 season.