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November 12, 2010

Future Shock

Arizona Diamondbacks Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: The big draft class of 2009 was a mild disappointment, while the top prospect missed the season—an ugly combination.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Jarrod Parker, RHP
Four-Star Prospects
2. Tyler Skaggs, LHP
Three-Star Prospects
3. Chris Owings, SS
4. Bobby Borchering, 3B
5. Matt Davidson, 3B
6. Marc Krauss, OF
7. Wade Miley, LHP
8. Pat Corbin, LHP
9. David Holmberg, LHP
Two-Star Prospects
10. Paul Goldschmidt,, 1B
11. Tyler Linton, OF

Nine More:
12. A.J. Pollock, OF: He missed all of the regular season due to elbow surgery; many scouts see him as a 'tweener.
13. Keon Broxton, OF: He had the best tools in the Midwest League after Mike Trout, but he looks foolish against even the fringiest of breaking balls.
14. Raul Navarro, SS: The 18-year-old Dominican has a line-drive bat and true shortstop skills, giving him the potential to move up significantly.
15. J.R. Bradley, RHP: Bradley offers a silky-smooth delivery and plenty of projection; like Navarro, he could get a full report next year.
16. Sam Demel, RHP: This power-armed righty was impressive at times out of the big-league bullpen. However, he needs more consistency with his control and slider.
17. Carlos Rosa, RHP: Rosa can still light up a radar gun but has yet to figure out how to miss bats.
18. Charles Brewer, RHP: The 12th-round pick from '09 led the organization in ERA (2.45) and strikeouts (153); he has legitimate back-of-the-rotation stuff.
19. Josh Collmenter, RHP: Command, control, deception all work in his favor; but Collmenter rarely gets out of the 80s with his fastball.
20. Tyler Green, RHP: An over-slot eighth-rounder, Green has low-90s velocity and an advanced curve for teenager.

1. Jarrod Parker, RHP
DOB
: 11/24/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007, Norwell HS (IN)
2010 Stats: Did Not Play (Tommy John surgery)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: This top prospect missed the entire regular season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Good: Parker has impact-level stuff. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, touches 98 mph, and he's already re-found most of his velocity in the instructional league. His hard slider features excellent two-plane break and gives him a second major-league quality out pitch. He made great strides with his changeup in 2009, and most projected it as a big-league average pitch prior to surgery. He earned praises for his work ethic both prior to and following his injury, and he shows maturity beyond his years on the mound.
The Bad: Parker throws strikes, but at times too many, as he'll often groove pitches down the middle instead of working both sides of the plate. He can lose touch and feel on his secondary offerings. Because of the missed year, he still needs to prove he was the player scouts saw in 2009.
Ephemera: The ninth overall pick in the draft has produced just three 100-game winners in Ron Darling (1981), Kevin Appier (1987), and Barry Zito (1999).
Perfect World Projection: Parker's stuff still gives him an All-Star ceiling.
Fantasy Impact: He's an early selection among starters who delivers wins, ERA, and strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: While there's been some talk of Parker getting a serious look to make the major-league club next year in the spring, he'll be better served by coming back in a less pressure-filled environment, likely beginning the season at Double-A Mobile.
ETA: 2012

2. Tyler Skaggs, LHP
DOB
: 7/13/91
Height/Weight: 6-4/195
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2009, Santa Monica HS (CA) (Angels)
2010 Stats: 3.61 ERA (82.1-78-21-82) at Low-A with the Angels (19 G); 1.69 ERA (16.0-13-4-20) at Low-A with the Diamondbacks (4 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Curve/change

Year in Review: The top prospect received in the Dan Haren trade was especially impressive at the end of the year in his new uniform.
The Good: Skaggs was one of the more projectable arms in the Midwest League in 2010. With long arms and a skinny frame, he sits at 88-91 mph with a fastball that features natural sink, and he can touch 93 mph, a reading most feel will become more regular as he fills out and smoothes his herky-jerky delivery. His low-70s curveball is a slow, classic 12-6 breaker with heavy drop that generates plenty of bad swings, and he throws both pitches for strikes.
The Bad: Skaggs is still more dream than reality, and he's not going to be a star unless the velocity projection comes to fruition. His changeup is a fringy offering right now, but even though he showed some progress with it during the year, it's now a long-term concern. More than anything, he just needs to get stronger.
Ephemera: While Santa Monica High has produced several big-leaguers, its alumni list is filled with entertainment celebrities, including Robert Downey, Jr., Sean Penn, and Art Alexakis.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a good third starter, with the possibility for a bit more.
Fantasy Impact: He won't be a fantasy monster, but he should provide decent contributions across the board.
Path to the Big Leagues: For now, Skaggs is a one-level-per-year type of prospect, so he'll begin 2011 at High-A Visalia.
ETA: Late 2013

3. Chris Owings, SS
DOB
: 8/12/91
Height/Weight: 5-11/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2009, Gilbert HS (SC)
2010 Stats: .298/.323/.447 at Low-A (62 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/approach

Year in Review: Owings' impressive pro debut was cut short by a foot injury.
The Good: Owings has solid tools across the board with a thin but athletic build with room to grow. He has good bat speed with a solid line-drive stroke and hits lefties and righties equally well. He's an average runner with good defensive instincts, smooth actions, and a good arm. He's a baseball rat who gets the most out of his size and physicality with a max-effort style of play.
The Bad: Nothing about Owings screams star. He's not a base stealer, and his power will always be below average. He's a very aggressive hitter who rarely works the count to his advantage. If he can't stay at shortstop, many wonder if the bat will be enough for second base due to the lack of secondary skills.
Ephemera: Owings' hometown of Gilbert, South Carolina has a population of just 500 but is visited state-wide annually for the Lexington Peach Festival.
Perfect World Projection: He's not a stud, but an everyday shortstop is hard to find.
Fantasy Impact: He'll likely contribute only in the batting average category.
Path to the Big Leagues: Like his fellow 2009 draftees, Owings will be part of an impressive roster at Visalia.
ETA: 2014

4. Bobby Borchering, 3B
DOB
: 10/25/90
Height/Weight: 6-3/200
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Bishop Verot HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .270/.341/.423 at Low-A (135 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/glove

Year in Review: Arizona's top pick in 2009 didn't put up big numbers, but he came on strong late in the season.
The Good: Borchering hit .307 with a .532 slugging percentage in 36 games after August 1, re-establishing himself as having the top offensive ceiling in the system. He's a large-framed switch-hitter who has power from both sides from a slightly open stance. Many scouts believe his doubles will turn into home runs down the road. He has a good feel for the strike zone.
The Bad: Borchering is a clumsy third baseman with a below-average arm, leaving one scout to say, “An infinite amount of reps won't help him stay there.” He's a below-average runner as well, leaving most of his potential wrapped up in his bat. There are some holes in his swing right now, but those should get tightened with experience.
Ephemera: Borchering hit .298 in the first six innings of games, but just .199 from the seventh inning on.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a first baseman or left fielder, but with enough bat to play there every day.
Fantasy Impact: As long as you don't need stolen bases, you'll be fine.
Path to the Big Leagues: Yet another player to watch at Visalia in 2011.
ETA: 2013

5. Matt Davidson, 3B
DOB
: 3/26/91
Height/Weight: 6-3/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2009, Yucaipa HS (CA)
2010 Stats: .289/.371/.504 at Low-A (113 G); .169/.298/.268 at High-A (21 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Bat/glove

Year in Review: Taken 19 picks after Borching, Davidson put up bigger numbers at Low-A South Bend and earned a late-season promotion to High-A.
The Good: Davidson is a strong hitter with the ability to hit for average while providing plus power. He already recognizes pitches he can drive and knows how to work the count to get those pitches. Beyond his hitting skills, his plus arm ranks as his second-best tool.
The Bad: Davidson has a mature build for his age, and conditioning could be an issue down the road. He's already a well below-average runner, and like Borchering, a poor third baseman with heavy feet and poor range. His swing can get long at times, and California League pitchers exploited the holes in his swing more readily.
Ephemera: In just nine at-bats with the bases loaded in 2010, Davidson had five hits, including two doubles, a triple, and a grand slam while totaling 14 RBI.
Perfect World Projection: Like Borchering, it's unlikely that Davidson can stay at third base, but many think he'll hit enough at a position that requires more offense.
Fantasy Impact: He'll bring power and RBI, but no stolen bases and average could be issues.
Path to the Big Leagues: After sharing time at third base with Borchering in 2010, one of the pair will likely move with their teammates once again at Visalia.
ETA: 2013

6. Marc Krauss, OF
DOB
: 10/5/87
Height/Weight: 6-3/235
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009, Ohio University
2010 Stats: .302/.371/.509 at High-A (138 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: This massive outfielder was among the Cal League's most dangerous hitters in the second half, slugging 18 home runs in just 272 at-bats after the All-Star break.
The Good: One scout compared Krauss to a “mini Adam Dunn,” as he's a massive presence at the plate with an explosive swing that generates impressive power to all fields. He has a sound approach at the dish and can blast mistakes over the fence from pole to pole.
The Bad: With Krauss' size come the expected negatives, as he's downright slow and a poor outfielder that some scouts believe is better suited for first base or designated hitter. He's a streaky hitter whose swing can get quite long at times, and many question his ability to hit for average at the higher levels.
Ephemera: While it's unlikely that he'll ever catch Mike Schmidt (548), Krauss needs just 21 major-league home runs to rank second among players drafted out of Ohio U.
Perfect World Projection: He may be a low-average, high-power hitter who likely hits fifth in a good lineup.
Fantasy Impact: You'll get power, but don't expect much else.
Path to the Big Leagues: Mobile will provide observers with a much better feel for Krauss' ability to do things beyond hit home runs.
ETA: Late 2012.

7. Wade Miley, LHP
DOB
: 11/13/86
Height/Weight: 6-2/190
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008, Southeastern Louisiana
2010 Stats: 3.25 ERA (80.1-81-37-50) at High-A; 1.98 ERA (72.2-60-28-63) at Double-A
Best/Worst Tool: Velocity/command

Year in Review: The consistently disappointing high pick began to put things together, including an excellent showing in Double-A.
The Good: Miley finally began to show some consistency in 2010, sitting in the low-90s with a heavy, sinking fastball that occasionally reached 95 mph when he reached back for something extra. He'll flash a plus slider at times and a changeup with good arm-side run that is much more than a show-me pitch.
The Bad: Miley's delivery is far from simple, and there are nights where he just falls apart mechanically, leading to problems with both command and velocity. His slider can get more slurvy at times, leaving him in some starts without a dependable out pitch.
Ephemera: Former reliever Kirk Bullinger, who pitched in 49 games over five seasons with four different teams, is the only player drafted out of Southeastern Louisiana to be credited with a big-league win; he had two.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a good fourth starter with plenty of ground balls.
Fantasy Impact: Much better in the real world.
Path to the Big Leagues: Miley will likely return to Double-A at the beginning of the 2011 season, but if he maintains the stuff he showed late in the season, he could suddenly be on a much faster track.
ETA: 2012

8. Pat Corbin, LHP
DOB: 7/19/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/165
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009, Chipola Junior College (FL) (Angels)
2010 Stats: 3.86 ERA (58.1-52-10-42) at Low-A with the Angels (9 G); 3.88 ERA (60.1-57-18-64) at High-A with the Angels (11 G); 1.38 ERA (26.0-17-9-30) at High-A with the Diamondbacks (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Command/velocity

Year in Review: Also a part of the Haren trade, Corbin added another projectable lefty to the system.
The Good: Corbin's combination of polish and projection intrigues scouts. While his fastball that sits in the upper 80s and scrapes the 90-91 mph level at times, his ultra-skinny frame and square shoulders leave scouts expecting more as he develops. He already has a plus breaking ball and average changeup, and he attacks hitters with strikes in all four quadrants of the zone.
The Bad: Corbin's lack of current velocity gives many scouts pause. If he doesn't find more, he'll be a classic finesse pitcher with little room for error. He was excellent late in the season, but in much shorter stints, forcing many to wonder if he'd be more effective as a reliever.
Ephemera: Batters leading off an inning against Corbin following his trade to Arizona went 2-for-24 with eight strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a solid back-end starter.
Fantasy Impact: Not much.
Path to the Big Leagues: Corbin will likely begin the 2011 season back in the California League, but he could get to Double-A by midseason.
ETA: 2013

9. David Holmberg, LHP
DOB
: 7/19/91
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: R/L
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009, Port Charlotte HS (FL) (White Sox)
2010 Stats: 4.46 ERA (40.1-52-9-29) at short-season with the White Sox (8 G); 3.86 ERA (37.1-47-7-47) at short-season with the Diamondbacks (7 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Control/velocity

Year in Review: Picked up along with Dan Hudson in the Edwin Jackson deal, Holmberg is yet another southpaw in the system who offers plenty to dream on.
The Good: For some, Holmberg is a bigger, more physical version of Corbin. He pounds the strike zone with an upper-80s sinking fastball, and he has advanced secondary pitches for a teenager with a slow, heavy breaking curveball, decent slider, and surprisingly polished change. He earns high marks for his approach and mound presence.
The Bad: While it's easy to understand the projectability of pitchers like Skaggs and Corbin, scouts wonder why Holmberg doesn't generate much velocity now out of his thick and heavy frame. Like many young pitchers, he can lose touch on his off-speed offerings.
Ephemera: While he has only pitched 117 2/3 innings as a pro, Holmberg has yet to commit a fielding error... or at least be charged with one.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an innings-eating, late-rotation starter.
Fantasy Impact: Fourth and fifth starters rarely excite in fantasy.
Path to the Big Leagues: After two short-season leagues, Holmberg is finally ready for a full-season league at South Bend.
ETA: 2014

10. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
DOB
: 9/10/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Eighth round, 2009, Texas State University
2010 Stats: .314/.384/.606 at High-A (138 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: Expected to put up big numbers in the California League, Goldschmidt nonetheless exceeded expectations by winning league MVP honors while leading the league in home runs (35) and slugging (.606).
The Good: Goldschmidt has massive raw power thanks to a linebacker build and a big cut that adds plenty of heft and backspin. When he makes contact, it's almost assuredly hard; even though he hit .314, 80 of his 165 hits went for extra bases. He has good hands at first base and saved plenty of infield errors by picking out throws in the dirt.
The Bad: It's hard to find scouts who are totally sold on Goldschmidt's batting skills. He whiffed 161 times in 2010 and his power-only approach never changes, even with two strikes. He's a 30 runner (on the 20-80 scouting scale) with very limited range. He absolutely crushes southpaws (1313 OPS) but is merely good against right-handers.
Ephemera: Though 14 players have been drafted out of Texas State, none have reached the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a solid but unspectacular everyday first baseman.
Fantasy Impact: Home runs? Yes. RBI? Sure. Anything else? No.
Path to the Big Leagues: Like Krauss, Goldschmidt will take the big step to Double-A, where he'll face significantly better pitching in a much more balanced offensive environment.
ETA: 2013

11. Tyler Linton, OF
DOB
: 1/17/91
Height/Weight: 6-3/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 14th round, 2010, Charlotte Christian HS (NC)
2010 Stats: .000/1.000/.000 at Rookie (1 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/hit

Year in Review: Expected to go to college, Arizona surprised many by signing Linton out of the 14th round to a $1.25 million bonus.
The Good: Linton is a special athlete with one scout classifying him as, “the kind of player you want to pick the second he steps off the bus.” He was a star linebacker in high school who turned down a scholarship offer from North Carolina and has broad shoulders, plenty of strength, and big-time raw power, as well as plus speed and impressive arm strength.
The Bad: To call Linton raw doesn't really do it justice. He's a pure-tools bat with a loopy, hole-filled swing that often looked bad against substandard high school competition. Beyond re-working his swing, his instincts in the field and on the basepaths need the kind of improvement that will only come through hundreds of minor-league games.
Ephemera: Charlotte Christian has developed its fair share of athletes, including basketball's Curry brothers (Stephen and Seth), as well as Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard.
Perfect World Projection: Linton's ceiling is sky-high, but so are the odds of him failing to get past Double-A.
Fantasy Impact: It could be massive, it could be zero.
Path to the Big Leagues: Linton isn't ready for a full-season assignment. Barring a shocking development this spring, he'll likely be held back until the short-season leagues start.
ETA: 2015

The Sleeper: A second-round pick in 2009, physical right-hander Eric Smith showed a low-90s fastball at South Bend with heavy sink and a promising slider.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Justin Upton, OF
2. Dan Hudson, RHP
3. Jarrod Parker, RHP
4. Brandon Allen, 1B
5. Tyler Skaggs, LHP
6. Chris Owings, SS
7. Bobby Borchering, 3B
8. Matt Davidson, 3B
9. Marc Krauss, OF
10. Wade Miley, LHP

Expected to break out, Justin Upton instead had a rough third full season while dealing with shoulder and hip issues. The tools remain in the ridiculous category, and he's still just 23. Dan Hudson pitched like an ace following his trade to Arizona, and while he's not 1.69 ERA, 0.84 WHIP good, he's going to be better than most expected and a star-level pitcher thanks to plus stuff and even better command. I'm one of the few believers in Brandon Allen, but he can provide power and plenty of walks at first base to make up for a lower batting average. Just missing the list are Gerardo Parra, a fourth outfielder who isn't even good at that, and Barry Enright, who can't maintain striking out one better for every two innings he pitches.

Summary: After a 97-loss season that was among the most disappointing in baseball, there are no immediate answers in the Arizona system. There's still hope for the 2009 draftees to take a step forward, but any optimistic view of the system overall involves a lot more dreaming than reality.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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