Arizona Diamondbacks 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Arizona Diamondbacks 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Jeff Reese: Of that outstanding quartet of pitching prospects that topped their list a year ago, Arizona only has two remaining. The other two were traded: Parker prior to the beginning of last year to Oakland and Bauer a month ago to Cleveland. Watching Jarrod Parker establish himself as a MLB stater — perhaps already a better one than the guy they traded him for, Trevor Cahill — last year was a gamble that is looking worse; the decision to trade Trevor Bauer however seemed inevitable after the details of their rocky relationship started to leak out. Tyler Skaggs continued to progress through the system and got his first taste of major league. A lefty with a smooth, quick-tempo’d delivery, Skaggs’s arsenal is highlighted by a tight curve ball with good depth. It’s not hard to see a #2 starter eventually emerging, perhaps as early as this year. Archie Bradley is the other one remaining. His upside is amongst the highest in the system given his upper 90s, heavy fastball and knockout curve ball, but after a torrid start in full season, he struggled with consistency for the rest of the year. Command is the biggest issue going forward and will be key to him fulfilling a top of the rotation role.
After the top two, you can see a pretty substantial drop in quality. Didi Gregorius is the biggest piece that Arizona got back in the three team trade that sent Bauer to Cleveland. A very good defensive short stop, Gregorius has shown some skill with the bat; the bar is so low for true short stops that even extracting a solid hitter is more than enough for him to profile as a regular. What keeps his stock down is that it’s unlikely he’ll be much more than that. Chris Owings has more offensive potential and enough defensive tools/instincts to stick at short stop, but he doesn’t have the same standout defensive ability as Gregorius and the upside in his bat is offset with the deficiencies in his approach. Matt Davidson continues to produce well and is making steady progress through the system. His defense at third base has improved to the point where the could passably continue in that role once he reaches the majors. Adam Eaton has hit his way into being a quality prospect; he offers solid athleticism and tools but may be a bit stretched in center field which would leave him as more of a good 4th outfielder than a starter. AJ Pollock is similar. The hit tool is pretty good but the rest of the package is average.
The last two draft classes are featured heavily throughout this list. The top pick in 2012 was Stryker Trahan — one of Evan’s favorite preps last year — who offers tremendous offensive upside along with surprising speed and athleticism. He’s raw defensively behind the plate, but the athleticism and excellent arm strength gives him the chance to stick there long term. If a move to another position proves necessary, he should be able to avoid first base. Trahan is clearly the most impressive offensive prospect on this list for me. Anthony Meo and Andrew Chafin were selected highly in the 2011 class; they offer a similar profile. Both have impressive raw stuff that comes with less than ideal effort levels, command profiles, and mechanics. They may end up fitting best in the back of a bullpen; Chafin is the slightly better bet to remain a starter. Jake Barrett is the 2012 version of the same profile, but he was much more highly regarded entering college and throughout his time there. The control and command just haven’t been good enough for him to make starting pitching work. Barrett’s raw stuff is elite though and he has bullpen ace upside.
Al Skorupa: There’s definitely a different look to the system this year. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Kevin Towers’ blueprint for team building. The organization as a whole is still in great shape going forward but the not so near future (3-6+ years from now) is dimmed somewhat. I don’t mind much of the changes the D-Backs have made this winter, but I’ll reserve final judgment until I see if Justin Upton is gone before Opening Day.
Two arms obviously stand out in this system. Tyler Skaggs is a major league ready, left-handed #2 starter. If you’re asking me to pref a system its pretty tough to pass on Skaggs. Archie Bradley has perhaps a slightly higher ceiling than Skaggs but he’s considerably farther away, scuffled in 2012… and we’re splitting hairs anyway. Our participating authors all agreed on the top two players in the system and on the next two: Stryker Trahan & Didi Gregorius. I’m optimistic Trahan can stay at catcher long term but even if he can’t his bat and athleticism will play elsewhere. Can Gregorius hit? Well… I’m not sure how much the bat will play but he’s a surefire shortstop who can give you something with the bat. These up the middle types are not easy to come by. If you’ve been reading my amateur coverage the last couple years you’ll know I was lower on Trevor Bauer than most. At draft time I preferred and still prefer Danny Hultzen and Archie Bradley, among others. Yet, I still wouldn’t have made that trade as I don’t think you give up that kind of swing and miss young arm without being certain you’re getting a solution at shortstop. Gregorius is a good shortstop prospect but there’s too much risk he doesn’t hit or doesn’t make the adjustments for me to have given up Trevor Bauer. Chris Owings is a similar player to Gregorius but with louder tools. Sadly, I have even less faith in his ability to hit major league pitching.
Matt Davidson is a tough guy to rank. Sources lack confidence in his ability to play third base long term and if he’s a first baseman it’s difficult to imagine him ever being more than a second division first baseman. He’s going to hit enough to help a MLB team in some fashion, though. He could fit very nicely as a N.L. part time corners player. I think Anthony Meo is a little underrated. He’s an athletic righty with good velo and two above averag to plus pitches. BB’s Steve Fiorindo regarded Meo as one of the very best arms in the Cal. League in 2012. Mechanics, command and consistency of his changeup probably mean a bullpen role down the line, but Meo could certainly start and help Arizona that way for awhile. Arizona took a few other arms in this last draft that profile similarly. The rest of the system is a lot of question marks and limited profiles, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see a few of those guys jump forward in 2013.
LHP Tyler Skaggs (Steve Fiorindo)
C Stryker Trahan (Steve Fiorindo)
SS Didi Gregorius (Peter Wardell)
SS Chris Owings (Steve Fiorindo)
1B/3B Matt Davidson (Steve Fiorindo & Peter Wardell)
OF Adam Eaton (Michael Schwartze)
RHP Jake Barrett (Steve Fiorindo)
1B Ryan Wheeler (Peter Wardell)
RHP Jose Martinez (Michael Schwartze)
OF A.J. Pollock (Michael Schwartze)
RHP Jeff Gibbs (Al Skorupa)
RHP Wagner Mateo (Michael Schwartze)