2013 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 15 Prospects
The Diamondbacks remain loaded with pitching prospects, including the three that topped this list a year ago. Some 2011 draftees stepped forward to take prominent roles on this list and the 2012 draft supplied a top-flight catcher, fast-moving reliever and an interesting third baseman with a prototypical profile. The pitching at the top carries the system and could carry the big-league rotation in the very near future.
1. Archie Bradley – RHP (Last Year’s Rank: 1)
Bradley’s 2012 season was very hit or miss and showcased just how raw he is. His fastball and curveball came as advertised, with his heater sitting in the 93-95 mph range and reaching as high as 97-98 when he reached back for more. His curveball was another plus pitch at times, with similar potential to his fastball, possibly earning future 70 grades. There was a lot of focus on throwing more strikes and improving his change-up both of which made modest progress throughout the year. A potential frontline starter, Bradley is very risky but he could make an enormous leap at High-A in 2013.
2. Tyler Skaggs – LHP (3)
Skaggs breezed through Double- and Triple-A in 2012 and debuted in the big leagues in August, making six starts before the end of the year. While he was roughed up in the big leagues, Skaggs offers a quality three-pitch mix, all of which he is willing to throw in any count. His fastball parks in the low-90s and his curveball is a true weapon that can generate swings and misses. Skaggs is an easy number three starter at this point and there are scouts that see a low-end number two on the horizon.
3. Trevor Bauer – RHP (2)
Bauer’s raw stuff is plenty good. He has a plus fastball and a curveball that draws occasional grades even better than that. His slider, change-up and splitter are all useable offerings that round out his arsenal and give him the ability to work through lineups several times. His deep arsenal is also part of his problem as he doesn’t pitch off his fastball enough and struggles to establish command of his two best pitches early in games. His attitude was drawn into question this year and there are rumblings about him falling out of favor with the organization. Like Skaggs, Bauer easily projects as a number three starter, but he will have to make some changes to his approach to reach that projection.
4. Andrew Chafin – LHP (10)
Chafin’s arm injuries have scared scouts in the past, and they admittedly scared me when I compiled these rankings a year ago. He remained healthy in 2012 and despite an aggressive assignment to the High-A California League, Chafin performed well. He has a plus fastball from the left side and his slider is absolutely filthy, with occasional plus-plus marks from scouts. His change-up lags behind, leaving him as a two-pitch guy with a mid-rotation ceiling. Because of his past injury issues, there are still scouts that see him as a high-leverage reliever that can dominate both righties and lefties.
5. Styker Trahan – C (NR)
The D’Backs top pick in June, Trahan has a chance to be an impact catching prospect. He has the arm strength and athleticism for the position and he has shown some promise as a receiver though he remains raw. Pro scouts were cautiously optimistic about his ability to stick behind the plate. At the dish, his power potential matches his fullback build, with scouts offering up plus future grades on his home-run power. He should hit for enough average for the power to play in games. Trahan is a good runner though he could slow down as catching takes its toll.
6. Chris Owings – SS (9)
Owings’ defense shined in 2012 and he cemented his ability to stick at the position long term. He has good hands, a strong arm and the natural actions for the infield’s toughest position. While Owings will always have swing-and-miss issues, he does hit just enough for his bat speed to turn into gap power and occasional home run power. With pop, above-average speed and quality defense at a premium position, Owings projects as a quality everyday guy in the big leagues.
7. Adam Eaton – OF (14)
Eaton hit at every level in 2012 and his hitting performance caused some scouts to believe further in his ability to hit high-level pitching. He doesn’t have big time power or speed, making him an awkward fit offensively on the outfield corners and defensively in center field. Doing several things well but not standing out in any area, Eaton projects as a solid fourth outfielder that can help in 2013.
8. Matt Davidson – 3B (6)
Davidson made improvements both offensively and defensively in 2012. His improved lateral quickness helped him at third base and made some scouts begin believing in his adequacy at the hot corner. His arm fits at the position. Davidson’s approach really improved at Double-A with improved control of the strike zone and a reduction in his strikeout rate. His power continued to play and at this point he looks more and more like a solid Major League third baseman.
9. AJ Pollock – OF (4)
Though they do it in different ways, Pollock and the seventh ranked Adam Eaton both profile as fourth outfielders. Pollock does a lot of things solidly but lacks a carrying tool, something Eaton developed with his hitting ability in 2012. Pollock does offer the ability to defend in center field and that will be valuable as he strives to stick in the big leagues. With a decent average, doubles power, solid defense and a max effort style, Pollock will be a big leaguer, and likely for an extended stretch in 2013.
10. Jake Barrett – RHP (NR)
For the second time in four years, Barrett was picked in the third round, this time signing with the D’Backs and heading straight to the Low-A Midwest League. Though he struggled at times in 25 relief appearances, Barrett’s hard fastball, nice slider and useable split-finger make him a very intriguing prospect. Barrett has starting experience in his background but the Diamondbacks seem to be interested in him as a quick moving reliever that could pitch at the back end of games.
11. Michael Perez – C (NR)
A fifth round pick in 2011, the 19-year old Perez posted a .293/.358/.542 line in 58 games for rookie-level Missoula. Scouts were impressed with his performance this year and some wondered how he lasted until the fifth round. He made significant improvements behind the plate, better utilizing his plus arm and showing potential for plus defense overall. He also has good pop in his bat and demonstrated a more advanced feel for hitting than many expected. He remains a ways away from the big leagues, but his ceiling is considerable and he bears watching during what will likely be his full-season debut in 2013.
12. Anthony Meo – RHP (12)
Much like with Andrew Chafin, the Diamondbacks were aggressive with Meo in 2012. He started 25 games for High-A Visalia and finished with a 4.11 ERA and solid rate stats. Meo’s fastball still sits in the 92-94 range and his slider continues to show plus potential. His strike-throwing ability is becoming more of a concern and some scouts raised questions about his long-term durability due to his slight frame. He still looks like a reliever to me and he could help at the back end of games if the D’Backs pull the trigger and change his role.
13. David Holmberg – LHP (8)
With so much high-end pitching at the upper levels of the Diamondbacks system, Holmberg can be overlooked at times. His fastball sits in the average range though he can dial it up to 93 when he needs a little more on his four-seamer. Holmberg’s other standout traits are his change-up and command, both of which will earn plus grades. Without a quality breaking ball that can generate swings and misses, Holmberg’s profile stops at the back of a rotation and he could be big-league ready by the end of 2013.
14. Keon Broxton – OF (15)
My love of extreme athletes with plenty of tools caused me to slot Broxton at the back end of this list last year. That proved a solid decision as he made some strides while repeating High-A. With plus speed, Broxton could steal 20+ bases annually and play quality defense in center field. He was more aggressive at the plate in 2012 and that led to fewer walks but did result in more in-game power. Broxton has the tools of an above-average regular and the risk profile that comes with raw athletes that are trying to tap into those tools.
15. Jose Munoz – 3B (NR)
Taken in the second round last summer, Munoz has prototypical tools to fit at the hot corner long time. His power potential is very intriguing and while scouts are split on his ability to hit long term, there is enough ability there to dream. He profiles well at third base with good arm strength and decent hands. He won’t stand out defensively, but he should hold his own. Munoz is going to take a long time to develop and may have a rough adjustment period in pro ball, but that doesn’t mean he lacks potential.