Now that we’re a month in to the 2013 minor league season, it’s a good time to check in on how the top prospects in each of the organizations are faring. It is way too early to get overly excited or overly depressed about anyone’s performance thus far, but it’s never too early to dig into the data and results that each prospect has added to their resume. For the purposes of these check-ins we will be using Baseball America’s rankings unless otherwise noted.
The Arizona Diamondbacks boast two legitimate #1 starter prospects at the top of their rankings. There is a notable drop off beyond their top two but that’s more a statement on how good those two are. This is a legitimate top-10 system with a balanced stockpile of pitchers and position players – many of which have a very real chance of carving out long careers as major league regulars. In fact you could easily argue that the Diamondbacks prospects ranked 6-10 are better than the Braves top-5.
*Stat lines do not include today’s (5/5) games, but those stats are addressed in the write-ups where applicable.
#1: LHP – Tyler Skaggs (21)
Reno (AAA): 6.15 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 29 H, 12 BB and 24 SO in 26.1 IP (5 GS)
Skaggs got 2013 moving in the right direction with a 6.0 inning, 4-hit shutout to open his season. In terms of Game Score (66) it remains his best start of the season though he’s also turned in a pair of starts that resulted in Game Scores of 63 and 62 GSc.
His second start – a 2.1 inning, 8 hit, 9 run effort – fell on the other end of the spectrum registering a GSc of just 5. We all know (at least we should) that if a pitcher logs enough innings, at some point they’re inevitably going to wind up with a few unsightly starts on their resume. Even though he’s immensely talented and has a very bright future ahead of him Skaggs is subject to such outings just like everyone else. Let’s also not forget that Reno is a very difficult environment to pitch in and this particular young lefty is more than five years younger than the average age of his PCL pitching peers.
Speaking of Reno, and entering today’s action, Skaggs had a 10.29 ERA and 2.07 WHIP in 14.0 IP at home and a 1.46 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 12.1 IP on the road. The small sample size disclaimer certainly applies here and the home/road splits got closer to one another a few hours ago, but it’s fun to note when things are so skewed. Pitching on the road in Tacoma today, Skaggs allowed 6 hits, 6 runs and 2 walks in 5.0 innings of work. He did however add 8 strikeouts to his total giving him 32 in 31.1 IP in the early going.
#2: RHP – Archie Bradley (20)
Visalia (A+): 1.26 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 22 H, 10 BB and 43 SO in 28.2 IP (5 GS)
Mobile (AA): 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 4 H, 2 BB and 7 SO in 6.0 IP (1 GS)
Skaggs hasn’t been as brilliant as expected in the early going, but Archie Bradley’s first six starts have gone a long way toward distracting Arizona fans. The organization’s other prospect to crack the Top-25 on most Top-100 prospect lists, Bradley needed just five starts to push through the California League. In those five he never allowed more than two earned runs, went at least 5.0 innings and struck out at least eight. He allowed more hits than innings pitched in just one high-A start and even then turned in a quality 6.0 inning effort.
On May 2nd, Bradley made his Southern League debut and was once again fantastic. Some sources, including Baseball America and MLB.com, had Skaggs ranked higher than Bradley in their top-100s. This was in no small part based on each pitcher’s perceived proximity to the major leagues as Bradley finished 2012 in the Midwest League while Skaggs made his way from Mobile to Reno and on to his major league debut with Arizona. Of course other sites, like this one, ranked Bradley higher in the preseason rankings. Regardless of placement on various lists, one thing all the sources seem to agree on is that Archie Bradley has the most electric arm in the system. So far in 2013 he’s proving that every time he takes the mound.
#3: OF – Adam Eaton (24)
Reno (AAA): 0.200/.200/.300, 1 2B, 3 SO in 10 PA
Eaton was projected to be Arizona’s Opening Day CF but a spring training elbow strain landed him on the 15-day disabled list instead. He started his rehab assignment on Friday and has gone 1-5 in each of his first two games with the Aces. He did however go 0-4 today so you can adjust his slash stats accordingly. The 2-14 start is not surprising given the time he’s missed and it’s just good to see him out on the field once again.
#4: 3B – Matt Davidson (22)
Reno (AAA): 0.267/.328/.419, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 10 BB and 37 SO in 116 PA
Like most power-based bats, Davidson is going to log his share of strikeouts but what he did in 2012 was very encouraging. Despite moving up from the Visalia – where he spent the entire 2011 season – to Mobile in 2012, he trimmed his strikeout rate from 24.3% to 21.9% and bumped his walk rate from 8.6% to 12.0% and both are significant gains. He left the California League and that resulted in a drop in his BA from 0.277 to 0.261 but his OBP and SLG improved in the process and that’s not a statement you can make about many players.
Davidson hit 3 HR in his first 10 games with Reno but has since gone 17 games without clearing the fences. That does not mean, however, that he’s struggling at the plate. In the 9 games prior to today’s 0-4, 2 SO performance, Davidson was 12-38 with four doubles and a triple. He is striking out in 32.5% of his plate appearances thus far, but that will improve as he accumulates more AAA experience.
#5: SS – Didi Gregorius (23)
Reno (AAA): 0.387/.424/.645, 2 2B, 2 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB and 1 SO in 33 PA
Arizona (MAJ): 0.407/.448/.778, 4 2B, 2 HR, 1 BB and 8 SO in 30 PA
The prize of the Trevor Bauer trade, Gregorius has provided Arizona with an immediate return on the deal. In my estimation he had been somewhat under-appreciated and over-looked prior to this season, but that’s not surprising. Defense first shortstops with questionable bats quite often flame out.
Like Davidson above, Didi improved his BB% over the previous season despite moving up a level. Regarded as being overly aggressive he’s only struck out in 12.4% of his 2,082 minor league plate appearances. While he’s certainly not going to keep hitting over 0.400 in the majors (he went 2-3 again today) it’s not unreasonable to believe that he can capably occupy a spot toward the top of a major league lineup while providing his team with fantastic defense.