The Arizona Diamondbacks apparently know how to clean out their veterans in order to take a look at the future. Or maybe things just fell that way. In any case, whether by injury (Chris Snyder, Conor Jackson and Eric Byrnes), trade (Felipe Lopez), or release (Tony Clark), the Diamondbacks have opened up four positions for auditions.
We have already taken a look at Josh Whitesell and his chances of proving himself worthy of the first base job. But will these other young D-Backs have lasting power? Let’s take a look at a trio of possibly under-appreciated D-Backs.
Ryan Roberts – Roberts was a fringe option a while back, but now he’s shown a little bit of power (three home runs) and a little bit of speed (five stolen bases) without a glaringly bad batting average. Is it possible that Roberts will claim the job and keep it despite being a minor league journeyman that has suffered from a bad strikeout rate in the majors so far? In a word, yes. Mostly because of his defense (+18.5 UZR/150 at 2B) and the lack of a potential second baseman in the system (although Rusty Ryal is showing good power in AAA right now, he’s old at 26 and has an inconsistent career), Roberts looks like a strong bet to keep the job. With the fact that his strikeout rates have consistently declined in both the major leagues and minor leagues, Roberts could actually find himself starting for many NL-only leagues next year, but he won’t be the kind of player that wins or loses your league for you. There’s just not enough power or speed here.
Gerardo Parra – Parra is another player that didn’t elicit much excitement in the minor leagues, albeit without all the bouncing around that Roberts had to go through. It just was clear from his .311/.373/.436 minor league line that he didn’t have much power, and though he had 84 stolen bases in the minors, his 71% success rate and declining steals totals weren’t very exciting either. Add in the fact that it was clear from his usage in the minors that the team didn’t think he was a center fielder, and you have your typical fourth outfielder. So far his .281/.321/.427 major league line this year is borderline, and good enough for fantasy owners in deep leagues. But with Byrnes coming back with his big contract and better defense (0.2 UZR/150 for Parra, 6.2 for Byrnes), the guess here is that Parra will be a bench bat next year.
Miguel Montero – Montero is actually in a different category. He’s more of a post-hype sleeper, because he came up with nice numbers in the minors (.291/.360/.467) and the designation of Future Catcher for the DBacks. Then a funny thing happened on the way to his first 500+ plate appearances. He struck out more than he ever did in the minor leagues and just couldn’t put enough wood on the bat to keep his batting average north of .250 for very long. Guess what. He’s got his strikeout rate down to his minor league levels (around 15%), and suddenly he looks like he did in the minor leagues: a catcher that can discern pitches and whallop the right ones. Montero is a stud again, and should be owned in all keeper leagues regardless of size. Like Roberts, sometimes it just takes a little time to get back to the player you were in the minors.