2009 Prospect Duds: Mark Hallberg

Infielder Mark Hallberg entered the 2009 season as the fourth-best prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, according to Baseball America. The 23-year-old hitter was originally selected by the organization in the ninth round of the 2007 draft. According to Baseball America pre-2009, “Hallberg is an organization favorite because he’s polished and has few holes in his game. He understands his game and carries out a plan everyday…”

Looking back on my pre-season report on the Arizona Diamondbacks system, “Hallberg is a middle infielder who knows how to hit. His advanced approach has helped him reach high-A ball in just his first full season… Hallberg controls the strike zone well, but he lacks power and speed, which will likely push him to a part-time role in the Majors.”

Hallberg missed a good chunk of the 2008 season thanks to an injury but he still hit .283/.357/.368 with a walk rate of 9.9% and a strikeout rate of just 10.3% in 272 at-bats. He also played well in the now-defunct Hawaii Winter Baseball league.

However, the momentum did not carry over into 2009. Promoted to double-A, Hallberg hit just .257/.325/.323 with similar plate rates in 455 at-bats. The shortstop’s OPS dropped for the third straight season from .848 to .725 to .648. His ISO went from .150 to .085 to .066. On the plus side, he suffered with a low BABIP at .280 and he had a healthy line-drive rate at 18%.

Hallberg certainly slumped in 2009 and he’s currently no threat to the enigmatic Stephen Drew, the Diamondbacks’ incumbent shortstop. Perhaps sensing that, the organization ensured that Hallberg saw ample playing time at both second base and shortstop, with some third-base action thrown in for good measure.

The former No. 4 overall prospect in the system has a long way to go to reclaim his former title. At this point, he needs to add a little more oompf to his bat to even make it as a big-league utility player. The lack of middle infield depth in the system certainly works in his favor. Hallberg will likely head back to double-A Mobile to begin the 2010 season.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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