The organization has not had the results over the past five years at the MLB level that it would have liked. However, there is good news for the fan base. The club is developing some exciting talent – especially on offense.
The club’s youth movement is led by 22-year-old outfielder Justin Upton, who posted a wOBA of .388 in ’09. He was also a 20-20 player who batted .300. Add in his defensive value and he’s one of the brightest young stars in the game. Fellow outfielder Chris Young is loaded with potential but the 26 year old was demoted to triple-A in ’09 and hit just .212/.311/.400 in 433 MLB at-bats. With that said, he’s already has one big league season with 30+ homers to his credit. Gerardo Parra, 22, received unexpected playing time in the Diamondbacks outfield in ’09 thanks to the injury to Conor Jackson and Young’s ineffectiveness. Parra posted a .313 wOBA and hit a soft .290 but he has a lot of potential.
On the left side of the infield, third baseman Mark Reynolds is just 26 and he slammed 44 homers and stole 24 bases last season. Stephen Drew recently turned 27 and he’s looking to finally tap into his star potential, but time is running out. Behind the plate, Miguel Montero, 26, took advantage of an injury to Chris Snyder to seize the full-time catching gig. The club will employ a veteran one-year gap at first base in Adam LaRoche but prospect Brandon Allen could be knocking on the door by mid-season.
Although technically a veteran, starter Edwin Jackson is just 26 and he was acquired this past off-season from the Detroit Tigers and provides excellent value as a No. 3 starter. The club also acquired Ian Kennedy from the Yankees and he has a good chance of developing into a solid National League hurler.
The club has had a few down years with the draft in recent seasons, which has led to little or no depth in the upper minors. The club has also traded away a number of prospects in an effort to “win now.” The club’s top prospect and 2007 1st round pick – Jarrod Parker – will miss much of the 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in ’09. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the player development staff. The club had seven picks before the third round of the 2009 amateur draft and the club did not go cheap. It also nabbed a few interesting over-slot players in later rounds.
General manager Josh Byrnes certainly appears to have this organization headed in the right direction. Scouting director Tom Allison returns for his fourth season and he’ll look to build off of his ’09 draft, albeit with fewer premium picks. Former farm director A.J. Hinch graduated to manager in ’09 and he was replaced by Mike Berger, who will continue overseeing the prospects in 2010.
The puzzle is not quite finished but the organization is getting closer and closer to the goal of being a force to be reckoned with in the National League.
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