With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
The Arizona system is all about pitching. Five of their pitchers appeared on the 2012 S2S top 100 prospects, and there’s more depth behind that. While there’s some depth on the hitting side, every position player in the system has a major flaw that needs to be corrected. In particular, the Diamondbacks lack solid up-the-middle players, especially if Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock end up in the outfield corners.
Position Player Upside: C-
Position Player Depth: C
Pitching Upside: A
Pitching Depth: A
System Grade: B
Catcher: Michael Perez. Perez was the Diamondbacks’ 5th-round pick in the 2011 draft. He’s a lefthanded hitter with a good arm and a lot of power potential, but he’s very raw behind the plate, and it’s unclear if he’s going to stick there. Perez turned 19 in July, and he has just seven games of professional experience, all in the AZL, so even if he develops nicely, he may not reach Arizona until 2017. In a perfect world, he becomes a lesser version of current Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero. Grade: C.
First base: Matt Davidson. Davidson gets a fair amount of hype as one of the system’s top prospects, but I find him somewhat overrated. He hit .277/.348/.465 as a 20-year-old in High-A, but it was the Cal League and he’s a first baseman, so that isn’t particularly overwhelming. Davidson struck out 147 times in 135 games, and he whiffed at a 25.1% clip against his fellow righthanders; his swing has some uppercut to it. Unless he cuts down on the strikeouts, he’s not going to be more than a bench player. On the plus side, he’s still young, he already rips a ton of doubles, he’s hit well in places that aren’t the Cal League (.289/.371/.504 in Low-A in 2010), and is approach is decent (52 walks in 2011). Grade: C+
Second base: David Nick. Nick hit .300/.342/.449 in High-A as a 21-year-old, but it comes with the Cal League asterisk, and unlike Davidson, he didn’t hit well in Low-A the year prior (.251/.318/.366). Nevertheless, he’s a second baseman with sure hands and a bit of strength, and he’s got some room to fill out and grow into 10-15 homer power. One can see a poor man’s Mark Ellis here, but Nick needs to improve his 5% walk rate if he’s going to be more than just an up-and-down replacement player. His iffy arm means that he’s not a great fit on the left side of the infield, limiting his utility possibilities. Grade C.
Third base: Ryan Wheeler. Wheeler’s 23 years old and lacks the perceived upside of a guy like Davidson, but of all the infielders in the system, he’s the best bet to have a sustained MLB career. He hit .295/.368/.467 in Double-A this past season, and with a 19.3% strikeout rate, he doesn’t have the contact issues of Davidson or Bobby Borchering. That said, his power and defense are merely adequate for third base, and he doesn’t hang in well against his fellow lefthanders; imagine Wes Helms hitting lefty instead of righty and you get the idea of Wheeler’s projection. Grade: B-.
Shortstop: Chris Owings. If you know anything about my approach to evaluation, you know strikeout-to-walk ratio is one of the first things I look at with prospect, and you probably know what I’m about to say here. Owings struck out 130 times in 121 games while walking just 15 times, which is horrendous, even when you consider he turned 20 late in the High-A season. A .662 OPS in the CAL inspires no confidence, and it’s not like Owings’ merely average power is enough to overcome the horrific approach. He does project to stay at shortstop, but made 32 errors in 2011; he also isn’t much of a basestealing threat. I wish there was someone else to go with here, but there really aren’t any better options than Owings, who at least had a decent 2010 and remains young. Grade: C.
Outfielder #1: Adam Eaton. Not to be confused with the former pitcher, this Adam Eaton is probably the most complete position player in the system. At age 22, he crushed the CAL and continued to show well in Double-A, hitting .302/.409/.429. He’s undersized and somewhat limited athletically, but makes the most of what he has, sort of like a lesser Brett Gardner. He’s merely competent in center field, and doesn’t have the speed his 34 steals suggest, but his on-base skills should make him a very useful player and possible leadoff man. He’s come a very long way since being drafted in the 19th round in 2010. Grade: B.
Outfielder #2: A.J. Pollock. Pollock is similar to Eaton statistically; he hit .307/.357/.444 in Double-A, can play center but probably fits best in right, and has gaudy SB numbers (36). Pollock is a year older and right-handed, and he doesn’t project to have Eaton’s on-base skills, but he is a bigger guy who looks like he should have more power from his smooth swing. Perhaps some of his doubles (41 in 2011) will start to clear the fences in coming years. Grade: B-.
Outfielder #3: Marc Krauss. While some bought into Krauss following a big 2010 in the CAL, I saw him as a classic CAL slugger who wouldn’t do much in Double-A. He didn’t fall off the map entirely, hitting .242/.340/.439, but he wouldn’t occupy this spot in a lot of systems. Krauss is average at best in the outfield corners, and he turned 24 in October. He slugged .477 off of righthanded pitching, so he shouldn’t completely be dismissed, but he likely doesn’t have the grade of power to be much more than a lefty bat of the bench. He’s likely a future Quad-A player in the John Bowker mold. Grade: C.
Starting Pitcher #1: Tyler Skaggs. The #5 prospect on the S2S Top 100, Skaggs completely dominated both High-A and Double-A despite turning just 20 in July, striking out over 11 batters per nine innings at both levels and even lowering his walk rate after being promoted. His game is reminiscent of that of the top pitching prospect in baseball, Matt Moore, and while Skaggs is further from the big leagues and throws a tick or two slower, he’s the second-best pitching prospect in baseball for me; while he may not evolve into a Cy Young candidate, he’s probably at least a #2 starter barring a disaster. Grade: A
Starting Pitcher #2: Trevor Bauer. Bauer came in a bit behind Skaggs on our top 100, at #14, but some prefer Bauer, and it’s not difficult to see why he’s thought of so highly. The third overall pick in 2011, Bauer immediately dominated Double-A even more than Skaggs did, striking out 26 batters in just 16 2/3 innings. He was a truly elite pitcher at UCLA and is arguably ready for the big leagues now. His size, athleticism, and delivery earn Tim Lincecum comparisons–those may be a bit ambitious, but Bauer should be a very solid #2 starter with a deep arsenal highlighted by a plus curveball and low-90′s fastball. Grade: A
Starting Pitcher #3: David Holmberg. To me, Holmberg is very possibly the most underrated prospect in all of baseball. As I bring up every time I discuss him, he’s one of just seven teenage starting pitchers to strike out at least a batter per inning in over 30 innings in High-A from 2005-2011, and he’s the only one of the septet that wasn’t thought of as a consensus top-50, let alone top-100 prospect following that achievement. He came in at #31 on my list. As you might expect, there are concerns about his velocity, as he mainly works at 87-91 mph, but Holmberg does everything else well. He has a history of excellent control and groundball rates, and he has two plus pitches in his curveball and changeup. He probably doesn’t become an ace in the end, but I see him as a very durable #2 or #3 starter. Grade: A-.
Starting Pitcher #4: Archie Bradley. You’ll see Bradley above Holmberg on virtually every list, and in retrospect putting him at #63 on the top 100 was a mistake. With an explosive mid-90′s fastball and tremendous power curveball, Bradley has A potential, but the seventh overall pick in 2011 still is quite far from the majors. Like most high school draftees, Bradley will need to build up durability, add a changeup, and refine his command and consistency. If he looks like he’s on the right track in 2012, he’ll probably be the new Taijuan Walker. Grade: A-.
Starting Pitcher #5: Pat Corbin. Corbin came in at #83 on the top 100. His 4.21 ERA in Double-A causes people to throw the “back-of-the-rotation” label on him, but his defense-independent indicators were over half a run lower, thanks to a strong 142/40 K/BB ratio. He doesn’t have the swing-and-miss offspeed stuff of Holmberg, but both his slider and changeup could become above-average, and he’s comfortably in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball. Corbin should become a classic mid-rotation lefthander. Grade: B+
Relief Pitcher #1: Bryan Shaw. Shaw is a poor man’s Andrew Bailey, working with a filthy cutter in the low-to-mid-90′s and a hard breaking ball. His cutter may be even better than Bailey’s, but the breaking ball comes and goes, leaving him as more of a tough middle reliever than a closer type. Still, he already has shown he can handle big league batters, with a 24/8 K/BB and 60% groundball rate in 28 2/3 innings with the D’backs last year. Unless the breaking ball takes a big step forward, we shouldn’t expect his production to get much better, but he’s already a valuable bullpen contributor. Grade: B-.
Relief Pitcher #2: Evan Marshall. A fourth-round selection in 2011, Marshall made it all the way up to Double-A by the end of the year, striking out 31 batters in 31 innings across three levels while walking just seven. He also put up a 56.7% groundball rate. Marshall works in the 91-96 mph range with his fastball and his hard breaking ball shows flashes of being a plus offering as well. He has similar upside to Shaw, but obviously isn’t as proven; however, he’s very polished, and there’s talk that he’ll make it to the majors within a year of being drafted. Grade: B-.
Best of the Rest
#1.) Andrew Chafin, LHP. A supplemental pick in 2011, Chafin would be in the top three pitching prospects in several organizations, and he may well be the #6 prospect in the system. His approach is similar to Corbin’s, although his slider is better, his changeup is worse, and he’s obviously further from the big leagues. A Tommy John survivor, he needs to be more consistent, as his release point wanders and there’s some effort in his motion. Still, it’s not hard to see him as a mid-rotation starter with a few improvements. Grade: B.
#2.) Anthony Meo, RHP. Meo may ultimately fit best in relief with a dynamite two-pitch mix, and he’d probably be the best relief prospect in the system if moved to the bullpen, ahead of even Shaw. He works in the mid-90′s in short stints, and he boasted one of the best curveballs in the 2011 draft. The second-round pick doesn’t have good command or much of a third pitch, but the Diamondbacks may try to develop him as a starter. Even if he improves in that role, he’ll likely be forced to relief by the gaggle of arms above him, but he could be a shutdown guy in the late innings. Grade: B-.
#3.) Wade Miley, LHP. Miley doesn’t boast huge upside, but he’s MLB-tested (40 IP in 2011) and has nothing left to prove in the minors; he was dominant in Reno, of all places. His calling card has always been his groundball ability; this is a pitcher who once allowed just one homer in 80 1/3 innings in the Cal League, of all places. He works off of a running 88-92 mph fastball and an above-average changeup, but his slurvy curveball comes and goes. At 25 and with Skaggs, Bauer, and others coming up behind him, Miley’s got probably just half a season to adapt to the big leagues after posting a poor 25/18 K/BB his first time around. Grade: C+.
#4.) Charles Brewer, RHP. Brewer’s similar to Miley in that he’s a big afterthought in this crowded system–and let’s not forget that the MLB team doesn’t lack for young pitching either. He’ll be 24 around Opening Day and has yet to pitch in the majors, so he’s by no means a huge prospect. Still, he has three solid pitches and an idea of how to use them, which could be enough to land a back-of-the-rotation job at some point. That probably won’t happen in Arizona, where he could become a multi-inning reliever or be used as trade bait. Grade: C+.
#5.) Bobby Borchering, 1B. It’s easy to mix Borchering up with Davidson, as they’re very similar players. Borchering’s a few months older, more limited athletically, and has an even worse strikeout problem (27.5%). He did bash 24 homers in the Cal League at age 20, but that’s the sum of what’s exciting about him. Grade: C+.
#6.) Kyle Winkler, RHP. Winkler’s similar to Meo, in that he has a bigtime two-pitch mix with his moving fastball and big curveball. He’s just 5’11″ and has an awkward motion, and he’s no stranger to shoulder problems. He’s therefore likely bound for the bullpen; he could excel there, but the tenth-round pick carries a lot of injury risk. Grade: C+.
#7.) Jesse Darrah, RHP. Another 2011 draftee (8th round), Darrah struck out over a batter per inning in Rookie ball after signing quickly. His command needs work, but he’s got a solid three-pitch mix, highlighted by a low-90′s fastball and advanced changeup. He’s another potential fourth starter or seventh-inning guy if everything breaks right, but we need more pro data on him. Grade: C+
#8.) Bryan Escanio, RHP. Escanio is a sleeper arm from Puerto Rico who struck out a batter per inning in the AZL this year. He throws a solid upper-80′s fastball that should sit in the 90-92 range as he matures, and he’s shown the ability to spin a curveball. Like most teenage Latin American arms, he has a lot of work to do on gaining consistency, as he drops his arm slot on the curve, which still comes in too slow in the low 70s. He also has a pronounced “Inverted W” in his delivery, which is a red flag for shoulder problems down the line. He has upside, but is eons away. Grade: C
#9.) Yazy Arbelo, 1B. Arbelo put up a 31 in the homer column in the Midwest League, and he drew 73 walks, but he struck out nearly 30% of the time and was 23 years old. He could conceivably put up some monster numbers this year in the CAL, but it’s tough to see him advancing quickly and retaining the production. He’s got some bigtime strength, but uses a wide-open stance and looks to pull everything. Grade: C.
#10.) Kevin Munson, RHP. An alumnus of my alma mater, James Madison University, Munson struck out 76 batters in 53 2/3 IP in High-A. He also walked 41, which is why he’s not on the same level as the top relievers in the system. A third-round pick in 2010, Munson is a typical fastball/slider reliever with effort in his delivery. He did make progress in the Arizona Fall League, with a 16/3 K/BB in 13 innings. He’s a potential setup man if he can cut the walks in half; think Santiago Casilla. Grade: C.
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Topics: A.J. Pollock, Adam Eaton, Andrew Chafin, Anthony Meo, Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks, Bobby Borchering, Bryan Escanio, Bryan Shaw, Charles Brewer, Chris Owings, David Holmberg, David Nick, Evan Marshall, Jesse Darrah, Kevin Munson, Kyle Winkler, Marc Krauss, Matt Davidson, Michael Perez, Pat Corbin, Ryan Wheeler, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Wade Miley, Yazy Arbelo