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April 6, 2012

Future Shock

NL West Prospect Preview

by Kevin Goldstein

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Arizona Diamondbacks
Affiliate To Watch: This one is a no-brainer, as in order to keep them from pitching in the pinball machine that is Triple-A Reno, the Diamondbacks sent Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin to Double-A to make up one of the best minor league rotations.
Trade Bait: With so much young pitching and a full big league rotation, the Diamondbacks can deal from a position of strength. The question is: do they deal prospects, or make room for them?
Breakout Candidate: While it might seem foolish to call the seventh overall pick a breakout candidate, few prospects created more spring buzz than Archie Bradley, who impressed as much as any 2011 draftee.
Don't Be Surprised If He Gets To The Big Leagues: A fourth-round pick last June, reliever Evan Marshall got to Double-A in his brief pro debut; he’ll begin there this year with a chance to reach the big leagues thanks to impressive control of a plus fastball/slider combination.
Fans Are Too Excited About: While outfielder A.J. Pollock hit .300/.357/.444 at Double-A last year and could put up some massive numbers at Reno, scouts don't see star tools in him, and his best projection might be as a good fourth outfielder.

Odds To Be 2013 No. 1 Prospect:
Archie Bradley: 2-1
Tyler Skaggs: 5-2
Trevor Bauer: 30-1

Colorado Rockies
Affiliate To Watch: Double-A Tulsa is the obvious candidate due to the presence of third baseman Nolan Arenado, but he's hardly the only prospect to watch, as he'll be joined in the lineup by shortstop Josh Rutledge and outfielder Kent Matthes, who will both try and prove that their California League breakouts are for real. The Drillers will also have pitching with Edwar Cabrera and Chad Bettis, once the latter returns from some shoulder soreness.
Trade Bait: Should the Rockies compete, a nearly big league-ready outfielder like Tim Wheeler could draw interest, while Tyler Matzek could be the kind of player teams think they can fix.
Breakout Candidate: While the Rockies try to figure out where Rosell Herrera will ultimately land defensively (bet on third base), he could be in for a big season at the plate with Low-A Asheville.
Don't Be Surprised If He Gets To The Big Leagues: Acquired in the deal for Kevin Slowey, reliever Zach Putnam's sinking fastball could be a good fit in the Colorado bullpen.
Fans Are Too Excited About: Despite fantastic numbers in the Texas League last year, Wheeler might get caught as a tweener who can't play center in the big leagues and lacks the bat to fit every day in a corner.

Odds To Be 2013 No. 1 Prospect:
No. 10 pick in 2012 draft: 2-1
Chad Bettis: 3-1
Rosell Herrera: 15-1
Tyler Matzek: 30-1

Los Angeles Dodgers
Affiliate To Watch: The Dodgers system is all about pitching, so make your pick, as both Double-A Chattanooga (Nathan Eovaldi, Ethan Martin, Allen Webster, Chris Withrow) and High-A Rancho Cucamonga (Garrett Gould, Zach Lee, Chris Reed) begin the year with plenty of arms.
Trade Bait: It's not completely implausible to see the Dodgers competing this year, which could lead to some of those arms going elsewhere, as the club has few position players that would appeal to the marketplace.
Breakout Candidate: Outfielder James Baldwin has the tools to hit 10 home runs and steal 22 bases in just 50 games for Ogden last year, and the rawness to whiff 74 times in 196 at-bats. He could boom or bust at High-A Great Lakes.
Don't Be Surprised If He Gets To The Big Leagues: Moving to second base to begin the season at Triple-A Albuquerque, Alex Castellanos can flat-out hit, and could force his way to Los Angeles.
Fans Are Too Excited About: The Dodgers' involvement in the Erik Bedard trade last year was strange, and while catcher Tim Federowicz should be a plus big-league defender, it's hard to see him even hitting enough to be more than a backup.

Odds To Be 2013 No. 1 Prospect:
Zach Lee: 3-2
Allen Webster: 6-1
No. 18 pick in the 2012 draft: 10-1
James Baldwin: 99-1

San Diego Padres
Affiliate To Watch: The Padres are loaded with upper level prospects, but Double-A San Antonio has the deepest roster. They’ll have a rotation that includes Robbie Erlin and Keyvius Sampson to go with a lineup that should feature catcher Jason Hagerty, second baseman Jonathan Galvez, third baseman Jedd Gyorko and an outfield of Jaff Decker, Reymond Fuentes and Edinson Rincon.
Trade Bait: The Padres are still in a rebuilding mode, and could add even more to their impressive depth come July.
Breakout Candidate: While Triple-A Tucson is not exactly the place for pitchers to impress, right-hander Casey Kelly is coming off an impressive camp in which he looked to be finally harnessing his stuff.
Don't Be Surprised If He Gets To The Big Leagues: Both Kelly and Joe Wieland could find themselves in the big leagues to bolster a weak rotation.
Fans Are Too Excited About: Yes, Jaff Decker walks a lot, but there's such a thing as too passive at the plate, and he's gotten to the point where he's walking too much for his own good and allowing far too many hittable pitches go by.

Odds To Be 2013 No. 1 Prospect:
Rymer Liriano: 4-1
Robbie Erlin: 5-1
Casey Kelly: 5-1
Cory Spangenberg: 8-1
Joe Wieland: 12-1
Austin Hedges: 15-1
Joe Ross: 20-1

San Francisco Giants
Affiliate To Watch: The Giants have an unquestionably shallow system, but top prospect Gary Brown will be at Double-A while joined by catcher Tommy Joseph, and the organization decided to double-jump lefty Mike Kickham to the Flying Squirrels as well.
Trade Bait: If the Giants are convinced Buster Posey will remain behind the plate, Joseph could hit the market in July.
Breakout Candidate: While the Giants surprised some by taking Joe Panik in the first round of the 2011 draft, all he's done is hit since signing, and that is expected to continue at High-A San Jose.
Don't Be Surprised If He Gets To The Big Leagues: Heath Hembree is generally considered the Giants closer of the future, and he could be ready for his residency-in-training by the second half of the year.
Fans Are Too Excited About: While Joseph's power is impressive, he's still below average defensively and not a very good hitter who could end up providing a low batting average with few walks.

Odds To Be 2013 No. 1 Prospect:
Gary Brown: 5-4
Joe Panik: 15-1
Heath Hembree: 25-1
Tommy Joseph: 50-1

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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