The Arizona Diamondbacks are loaded with young, highly talented arms that will likely put them at the top of the NL West for at least the next 5-6 years. They have a young, budding star in Justin Upton who is (believe it or not) only 24 years old and already showing signs of high level talent. They have some other nice pieces in the outfield and a young, powerful first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt who can put a ball out of any park, especially in the dry air of Arizona.
If Arizona is going to win, it’s going to be with their pitching, both now and in the future. However I have a concern that their lack of depth on the other side of the ball is going to hurt them in the coming future. Pitching wins championships and we see examples of that every year, but most teams don’t have or need a highly talented rotation from top to bottom. To get through the playoffs you’ll need only 3 quality starters, and if you can’t score off the other starter then it’s useless, just ask Philly fans. That’s why I believe one of their starters will be on the move at some point in the near future to put them over the top. But who will be the one moved? Lets take a look at who’s on the horizon and try to figure out a potential future suitor for one of the veterans to provide more offense.
RHP Trevor Bauer
Most scouts wouldn’t argue that Bauer is the prize of the trio over in Arizona. He draws a lot of comps to Tim Lincecum mostly due to his comparable mechanics but the array of stuff and pitch selection is a bit different, and in a good way. I’ve never been a fan of Lincecum’s over usage of the splitter, but he gets away with it by his lightning arm speed, and Bauer has some terrific arm speed as well. They both hide the ball and get great extension on their front sides, making their small frame look like they’re about a foot taller than they are. Bauer features an out-pitch curve which he does a great job of releasing it from almost the exact point that his fastball comes out of. His K-rate has always been phenominal in his minor league career, posting a 4.3 K/BB rate and a 14 K/9 over a small sample size at AA in 2011. Other than at times shaky control (although good command) Bauer is ready to contribute right now. If the D’Backs had not reached an agreement with southpaw Joe Saunders, it’s likely that Bauer would have opened the year with the big club, but he will have to wait his turn or move in due to an injury. Regardless, Bauer is a lock to be in the Arizona rotation in 2013 and with his arsenal, work ethic, and love for the game he will have great success and have some great guys to learn from.
RHP Archie Bradley
Bradley is the biggest of the three future stars, a body that will help him when his innings get built up. He has two plus plus pitches in his fastball and curve, while developing a change which has potential to be plus. Although the change would have to be only league average to look even better because Bradley runs the gas up sitting mid 90’s and even touching triple digits at times, with movement to boot. He pairs that pitch with a hammer curve, with good velocity separation and a smooth delivery. Archie is the youngest of the trio, and likely will be the last to arrive at the big club, but when he does he will be a guy that many teams covet.
LHP Tyler Skaggs
The common misconception that teams are concerned about balancing out their rotation by adding a lefty is ridiculous. Teams are concerned about adding the most talent possible, and Skaggs definitely doesn’t lack that. He commands his pitches well around the zone. His fastball will sit 89-92 with decent movement and a nice smooth arm action. He gets on top of the ball well, which helps with his movement down in the zone. Skaggs gets over his front end pretty well, which helps his curve which is an out-pitch and torture on lefties. He’s pretty advanced and at only 20 years of age, the young southpaw is primed to produce big league value as soon as 2012.
As you can see the Diamondbacks have a wealth of arms that will surely keep them at the top of the NL West even if the new Dodger ownership comes in and spends a ton of money. Even if Bradley take a while to develop, Skaggs and Bauer area ready to step in right now, which will take the pressure off and allow Bradley to develop on his own time. The interesting thing to take a look at is the depth of the Arizona offense. I would guess that either one of these guys will be moved, or Arizona will move either Kennedy or Hudson some time soon to recoup as much value as possible. It’s not as though their window is short, so moving one of them now while teams still have some payroll cost certainty and value will probably be their best bet to get some offense injected. They could really use a boost at third, and with the surplus of offense at the position you could possibly see a multitude of suitors across MLB.
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