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A Minor Review of 2009: Arizona Diamondbacks

Prospect ranking season is just around the corner. In anticipation of that, we present an intro series looking at some of the players who deserve mentioning but probably will not be appearing on their teams’ Top 10 lists. The popular series is back for the second year.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Graduate: Gerardo Parra, OF
This 22-year-old outfielder was not supposed to play such a key role on the Major League club in 2009. Despite that fact, Parra was hitting .288/.322/.400 in 448 at-bats during the final week of the season. The left-handed hitter clearly needs to improve against southpaws if he is going to avoid the dreaded platoon, as he is hitting just .200/.250/.220 in 100 at-bats. Parra was incredibly consistent on the year, hitting under .298 in just one month (June at .214). The five steals in 11 attempts is a disappointing number when you consider he stole 20+ bases each season in the minors.

The Riser: Josh Collmenter, RHP
With the exception of Jarrod Parker, who is now hurt, there are not a lot of high-ceiling players in the Arizona system. Right-hander Josh Collmenter is a steady pitcher with a modest ceiling, but he’s put together two solid back-to-back seasons. The 23-year-old was a little old for high-A ball and his 8-10 record, as well as 4.15 ERA, do not look overly impressive. Strip away those stats, though, and you see 127 hits allowed in 145.1 innings in a good hitter’s league, a 0.50 HR/9 rate, and a FIP of 3.12. Collmenter also posted an OK walk rate of 3.41 BB/9 and his strikeout rate jumped almost 2.00 over his 2008 season in low-A ball to 9.41 K/9.

The Tumbler: Collin Cowgill, OF
Cowgill is another example of why you should never get too excited when a college draft pick puts up really crazy numbers in short-season ball… and the same can be said for small sample power numbers (Oh, Mitch Einertson, where are you?). To be fair to Cowgill, the outfielder did struggle with injuries in 2009 but he did not exactly set the world on fire when he was in the lineup. In 220 high-A at-bats, the 23-year-old prospect hit .277/.373/.445 with an ISO of .168. He did show some patience at the plate with a walk rate of 11.6%. Cowgill is probably going to end up as a tweener… along the lines of Shane Costa.

The ’10 Sleeper: Reynaldo Navarro, SS
The Diamondbacks organization is not known for investing a lot of time and money into raw, toolsy players… it prefers to go the college route with its prospects. Navarro was a fun deviation from the usual game plan, but he’s been slow to develop as a 2006 third round draft pick out of Puerto Rico. This season, he hit .262/.308/.339 with 12 steals in 451 at-bats in low-A ball. Obviously there is work to be done, but he’s still just 19 and he only became a full-time switch-hitter after being drafted. Defensively, he should stick at shortstop; his range took a hit this season but he cut down on the youthful errors.

Bonus: Evan Frey, OF
Frey was highlighted as the sleeper during the ’08 review series. The speedy outfielder stole a career-high 31 bases in 2009 at double-A, but he was caught 14 times. His walk rate dropped a bit to 10.3% but he trimmed his strikeout rate to 15.4% after it sat at 20.1% in high-A ball in ’08. The OPS went from .815 in 2008 to just .686 in 2009 and his batting average also lost .030 points, in part due to a drop in BABIP from .367 to .314.