Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects

General Manager: Josh Byrnes
Farm Director: Mike Berger
Scouting Director: Tom Allison

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

Perhaps no team’s Top 10 list would benefit more if 2009 draftees were included. The system, hurting for depth, was served some serious CPR this past season. Players who could be in the Top 10, if eligible, include: Matt Davidson, Ryan Wheeler, Marc Krauss, Mike Belfiore, Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock, Keon Broxton, and Bobby Borchering… but you read about those eight prospects in yesterday’s draft review, so you’re basically getting a Top 18 prospect list with this organization (please, save the applause).

1. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Double-A
DOB: November 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 1st round – Indiana HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 91-97 mph fastball, plus slider, curveball, change-up

If not for Tommy John surgery, Parker might have been pitching at the MLB level in late ’09 or early 2010. As it stands now, he’ll spend the year trying to recapture his previous form. The right-hander was having a nice season in ’09 pre-injury. He blew through high-A in four dominating starts and then made 16 more appearances in double-A before the elbow popped. He allowed 82 hits in 78.1 innings of work, while also showing OK control with a walk rate of 3.91 BB/9 and posting good strikeout numbers (8.50 K/9). Parker also did a nice job of keeping the ball in the park (0.23 HR/9) due to his ground-ball rate of 55%. If he can regain his previous fastball velo, and keep up the ground-ball rate, Parker could be a No. 1 or 2 starter in the Majors.

2. Brandon Allen, 1B, Majors
DOB: February 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2004 5th round – Texas HS (Chicago AL)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2

A nice grab from the White Sox (a club that also gave up on Oakland’s Chris Carter), Allen had a breakout ’09 season and looked like he might have a shot at the MLB job in 2010 until the organization signed free agent Adam LaRoche. The soon-to-be-24-year-old will receive another year of seasoning in triple-A unless LaRoche goes down with an injury. Allen played for four teams (three levels) in ’09 and he made his MLB debut. In total, he slugged 34 homers and possesses massive power that could allow him to hit 30+ in the Majors if he can make enough contact. In 104 MLB at-bats, the slugger struck out at a rate of 38.5%, which was about 18% more often than he struck out in the minors in ’09. Allen has done a nice job of getting on-base during his career, with multiple seasons of +10% walk rates.

3. Cole Gillespie, OF, Triple-A
DOB: June 1984 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 3rd round – Oregon State University (Milwaukee)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

Gillespie was acquired last season from Milwaukee and is your typical fringe-regular. He does a lot of things well, but nothing stands out. He doesn’t have enough range to play center field, so he’s stuck on a corner and that shines a lot more light on his bat, which is average. A gap hitter, Gillespie projects to hit around 10-15 homers and steal about the same number of bases. His best bet for a prolonged MLB career is as a fourth outfielder in the Reed Johnson mold. He spent much of the ’09 season where he hit .242/.332/.424 in 236 at-bats and his BABIP was on the low side at .289. In triple-A for Arizona, he hit .304/.418/.514, but was aided by a BABIP of .363. Gillespie does a nice job of getting on base (+10% walk rate) but he strikes out too much for his average power.

4. Collin Cowgill, OF, High-A
DOB: May 22, 1986 Bats: R Throws: L
Signed: 2008 5th round – University of Kentucky
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Cowgill is an interesting player and not that dissimilar from Gillespie. Just 5’9”, he’s shown some good pop for his size but he doesn’t project to be a power hitter in the Majors. More likely than not, he’s going to end up as a fourth outfielder or platoon player. He battled injuries in ’09 and had just 220 at-bats in high-A. His triple-slash line was .277/.373/.445 and he showed good patience at the plate with a walk rate of 11.2%. His strikeout rate was a bit high at 22.3%. He added 11 steals in 15 tries. If given full playing time in the Majors, Cowgill would likely produce some 15-15 seasons. It will be interesting to see what he can do in double-A in 2010.

5. Wade Miley, LHP, High-A
DOB: November 1986 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2008 supplemental 1st round – Southeastern Louisiana University
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, slider, curveball, change-up

A personal favorite of mine from the ’08 draft, Miley has developed slowly. The southpaw, already 23, spent the majority of the year in low-A where he allowed a lot of hits (127) in 113.2 innings of work. On the plus side, he showed good control with a walk rate of 2.30 BB/9. His strikeout rate was modest at 7.21 K/9. Overall, he posted a FIP of 3.38 but at his age, and experience level, he should have dominate the league. He received three starts in high-A and that’s where he should begin the 2010 season, and will look to have a little more luck on his side after posting a high BABIP and a low strand rate.

6. Leyson Septimo, LHP, Double-A
DOB: July 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2003 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire:91-95 mph fastball, slider

A former outfielder who wasn’t totally useless at the plate (He hit .270 before his conversion to the mound), Septimo is now trying to harness his plus-fastball as a reliever. In ’09 at high-A, he allowed 29 hits in 38.1 innings of work while and he struck out batters at a rate of 10.33 K/9. He moved up to double-A and posted a strikeout rate of 12.27 K/9. It’s his control that is holding him back, though, and he posted a walk rate of 6.10 at high-A and 8.84 BB/9 in double-A. With just under 100 innings of pitching experience, it’s no surprise that Septimo’s control is off, but he’s turning 25 in July and he hasn’t dominated left-handed batters.

7. Reynaldo Navarro, SS, Low-A
DOB: December 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 3rd round – Puerto Rico HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Just 20, this former third-round pick is still raw but he remains an interesting shortstop prospect. While spending ’09 in low-A, Navarro hit .262/.308/.339 in 451 at-bats. The weaknesses are clear: his walk rate is just 5.5% and his ISO rate was .078. Navarro does have some speed and he swiped 12 bases in 16 tries. He also did a nice job of trimming his ’08 strikeout rate from 26.5% to 18.8% in ’09, giving hope that he could develop into a No. 2 hitter. Defensively, he has good range for the position but his arm might get him moved off the position to second base. Navarro is a long way off from reaching the Majors, but his potential appears to be that of a starting shortstop on a second-tier club.

8. Cesar Valdez, RHP, Triple-A
DOB: March 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 86-90 mph fastball, plus change-up, curveball

Valdez is a soft-tosser whose best pitch is a change-up. His fastball sits in the mid-to-high-80s. Even so, he’s had success in the minors, although he hit a speed bump in ’09 at triple-A (5.18 FIP in 19 games). The right-hander began the year in double-A, where he allowed 63 hits in 64.1 innings and posted a 3.00 FIP. He has good control (2.81 BB/9 in triple-A) but his strikeout rates are modest, as he pitches to contact due to his lack of a true out-pitch. Valdez does a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground and should produce a ground-ball rate around 50%. Because of his fringe-stuff, he could end up as a middle reliever.

9. Kevin Mulvey, RHP, Majors
DOB: May 1985 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 2nd round – Villanova University (New York NL)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 87-92 mph fastball, curveball, slider, change-up

Part of the ill-fated Johan Santana trade between the Twins and Mets, Mulvey made his way from the Twins to the Diamondbacks in ’09. He had a respectable, but far from dominant, year in triple-A for the Twins where he posted a 3.96 FIP and allowed 153 hits in 149.0 innings. He showed average control and posted a walk rate of 3.25 BB/9 and his strikeout rate was low at 6.83 K/9. The right-hander struggled in eight MLB appearances split between the Twins and the Diamondbacks. His ceiling is probably that of a No. 4 starter or long/middle reliever. Mulvey has a pretty good slider, but he needs to improve his fastball command so he can set up his out-pitch.

10. Roque Mercedes, RHP, Double-A
DOB: October 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2004 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-94 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Another ’09 trade acquisition, Mercedes had a nifty season in the bullpen for both the Brewers and Diamondbacks organizations. The right-hander began the year in high-A and posted a 2.19 FIP in 29 games. Batters managed to hit just .181 against him and he posted a strikeout rate of 9.72 K/9. His walk rate was OK at 3.24 BB/9 and he did not allow a home run. Moved up to double-A after the trade, Mercedes’ FIP rose to 3.67 and he allowed 14 hits in 19.0 innings. His walk rate jumped to 4.74 BB/9 but his K-rate rose to 11.84 K/9. The 23-year-old pitcher is probably still a year away from the Majors and his ceiling is probably that of an eighth-inning set-up man.

Up Next: The Los Angeles Angels




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


4 Responses to “Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects”

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  1. U-G says:

    I wouldn’t say the Sox “gave up” on Carter. They traded him for Carlos Quentin.

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  2. shawntendo says:

    Brandon Allen hit 34 HRs last year? That seems like 10 too many (he hit 24 by my count)

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  3. El Guapo says:

    What about Ryan Wheeler in this mix? No love for a guy who hits very well.

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  4. aaron says:

    if cole gillespie is your third best prospect your organization definitely needs an infusion of talent.

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