Minor Affliate Preview: Mobile BayBears

Continuing with our previews of the Diamondbacks' minor league affliates: Today we're looking at the Dbacks' AA affliate, the Mobile BayBears. The recent draft that restocked the lower levels of the minors has yet to help Mobile, but the BayBears do have some quality pitching prospects, along with a few good hitters. After the jump I'll go over the players on the BayBears' roster.

Starting Pitching

Mobile's starting rotation consists of  Barry EnrightWes Roemer, Tom Layne, and Bryan Shaw.

Wes Roemer: 13IP, 2.08 ERA, 3 ER, 1 BB, 11ks. A great start for Roemer, who has put up above average numbers since being drafted with the 50th pick in the 2007 draft. Roemer is repeating AA after being promoted mid-season last year. Roemer can touch 94 MPH on occasion, but he generally works in the 89-91MPH range, where his fastball has better movement. John Sickels gave Roemer a C+ grade.

Barry Enright: 6.0IP, 1 ER, 0BB, 4Ks, 0.50 WHIP A solid start for the 73rd pick of the 2007 draft. Like Roemer and Torra, Enright is repeating AA this year, due to the fullness of AAA Reno's rotation. Enright has an average but workable fastball that he throws in the 89-91 MPH range. He mixes in a slider, curveball, and a changeup. He throws strikes, but relies on his defense to support him. Sickels gave him a C grade this year. Enright was the BayBears pitcher of the year in 2009.

 

Tom Layne:  12 IP, 0.73 ERA, 3 runs, 1 earned, 3BB, 7ks. One of three lefties on Mobile's roster (the others being Leyson Septimo and the newly promoted Patrick McAnaney), Layne is one of my picks on the Mobile squad who could be primed for a breakout season. Last year Layne had a 156 ERA+ in 66IP for HI-A Visalia, but struggled to the tune of a 78 ERA+ in 31 IP for Mobile as a reliever. He also made 12 appearances as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 4.97 ERA. Layne throws a sinker, a cut fastball, a curveball, and a change up. 

 

Bryan Shaw: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 1BB, 6Ks. A pretty good start for the former 2nd round pick. Having never started a game in his college career or in his first professional season, Shaw was asked to start 19 games last year. Having added two pitches to his arsenal in the offseason, he pitched to a respectable 4.53 ERA. 

 

Patrick McAnaney: 5.0 IP, 4 hits, 3 ER, 2BB, 4 Ks in his one start in Visalia, 5.2 IP, 4 ERs, 1BB, 7 Ks. With Kris Benson taking the 5th starter spot on the big club, it set off a cascade of moves, with Matt Torra getting a well deserved promotion to Reno, and McAnaney getting promoted from Visalia to take his spot. IIRC, IHSB is a big fan McAnaney, who's a left handed starter who had a solid season  in Visalia last year (4.41 ERA, 47 BB, 146 Ks)


Relief


 All but one of Mobile's bullpen are returns from last season. Mobile's relief corps consists of Leyson SeptimoBryan HenryKyler NewbyReid MahonRoque Mercedes, and Jeff Dietz. Bryan Henry is the newcomer.

Leyson Septimo: Septimo began his professional career as an outfielder, but after hitting 254/305/350 in 318 games, he was converted to relief in 2008. He's one of two left handed pitchers on the BayBears roster (Tom Layne, who I've already talked about, is the other). Septimo has produced a lot of buzz, throwing his fastball in the 94-97 MPH range. His command is terrible at this point, but he's tough on lefties, but assuming his control comes around, he won't be confined to the role of a LOOGY. K rate is excellent, but his walk rate is a little too high at this point.

 

Roque Mercedes: Acquired along with Cole Gillespie in the Felipe Lopez trade, Mercedes has an electric fastball that he throws in the 90-95 MPH range. Mercedes struggled as a starter early in his career, but since being converted to relief he's been excellent. In addition to his fastball, he has an excellent slider, but he lacks a quality third pitch. As a starter that would be a concern, but that isn't much of a problem as a reliever.

 

Kyler Newby: Newby spent a day on the 25 man roster in May of last year, but he didn't appear in a game. Newby was a 50th round pick who breezed through A ball, but struggled once he reached AA Mobile. He has a fastball that he works in the 88-92 MPH range, and he has a splitter and slider that can be effective if his command is on. One concern is the huge dip in his K/9 ratio, which went from 11.55 in 2008 to 6.61 in 2009. Newby will need to regain his K rate in 2010.

 

Bryan Henry: Has posted very good numbers in the last two years, with ERAs of 3.10 in Mid-A in 2008, and 3.15 at HI-A Visalia last year. 

 

Reid Mahon: Mahon has shuffled back and forth between Mobile and Reno the last two years, and this will mark his third season in AA. He's posted solid numbers throught his career. He has ana excellent sinker which he throws in the low to mid 90's. I would expect to see Mahon in a major league bullpen in the near future.


Jeff Dietz: An undrafted free agent out signed out of Brown University, Dietz posted a 142 ERA+ in 66IP for Hi-A Visalia, but struggled to the tune of a 44 ERA+ upon being promoted to Mobile. Dietz has a deceptive sidearm delivery, along with good stuff. He's still raw, and may need to develop another pitch to attack left handed pitching. For a guy who's flown under the radar, he's worth keeping an eye on.

Catching

 

The BayBears catching tandem consists of Ed Easley and Konrad Schmidt. Originally Sean Coughlin was on the roster, but with Miguel Montero's injury, Coughlin was called up to AAA. 

 

Konrad Schmidt has gotten off to a hot start with an 1.104 OPS. He's 12-30 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs. a 1:4 K:BB ratio, and 3 stolen bases.  Schmidt had a hot finish for Visalia last year - he batted 247 with 11 doubles, three homers, and 17 RBIs in the first half, but finished the year batting .358 with 17 doubles, a triple, 6 homers, and 33 RBIs. Schmidt signed as an undrafted free agent in 2007.

 

Ed Easley was a former sandwich round pick, drafted with the 61st overall pick in the 2007 draft. He hasn't done much since being drafted, and to me it appears that he's a wasted draft pick. He'll be Schmidt's backup. Easely is hitless in his 10 ABS.

 

Infield


I'll only go over the infield quickly, as it's pretty barren when it comes to actual prospects. Returning from last year are Bryan Byrne and Ricardo Sosa, who'll man first and third, respectively. Handling shortstop is Taylor Harbin, and at second, we have Jacob Elmore.  Gerson Montilla and Jake Wald are reserves. 

Bryan Byrne: Repeating AA this year, the 26 year old is now overshadowed by a bevy of 1st base prospects in the Diamondbacks farm system. In AAA we have Brandon Allen and Jeff Bailey. In HI-A we have Ryan Wheeler and Paul Goldschmidt (and possibly Marc Krauss, if he proves he can't handle LF). In South Bend there's Bobby Borchering and Matt Davidson, who although are 3rd basemen, may end up at first. Basically, Byrne really doesn't have much of future in the Diamondbacks farm system.

Jacob Elmore: The former 34th round pick out of the 2008 draft is mobile's starting secondbasemen. Playing in the midwest league last season, Elmore struggled to a .219/.319/.338 line at the All-Star break. After the all-star break, however, he posted a line of 314/427/371. Poor slugging numbers, but the on base percentage certaintly is impressive. If he can maintain such a high OBP he'd be an ideal number 2 hitter. It's a bit surprising that Elmore is skipping Hi-A Visalia.


Taylor Harbin: Although Harbin's future most likely lies at second base, where he's a much better defender than at shortstop, Harbin will be Mobile's starting shortstop. Month by month, Harbin was pretty inconsistent last season, batting .221 in April, .322 in May, .204 in June, .287 in July, .235 in August, and .387 in September. A solid season this year could put him on the 40-Man roster, but he'll have to outperform Pedro Ciriaco and Mark Hallberg for a shot in the big leagues.


Ricardo Sosa: A Cuban refugee, Ricardo Sosa signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004. He lead the BayBears last year in homeruns  and RBIS with 12 and 71, respectively. With the additions of Bobby Borchering, Matt Davidson, and Matt Helm, Sosa is overshadowed as a prospect. At 26 he's also old for a prospect. He has gotten off to a hot start with a 1.167 OPS, all though it's only in 3 ABS.

Jake Wald was in San Francisco's farm system until joining the BayBears this season. At this point in his career, and age 29, Wald is a minor league journeyman.

 

Gerson Montilla was signed out of Venzuela, and played in the Dominican Summer league in 2008. Last year he played in Yakima and hit 220/278/335. At 21 he's still young.


Outfield

Mobile's outfield is a little more interesting than the infield, with some decent prospects in Collin Cowgill, Evan FreyWinston "Ollie" LintonCyle Hankerd, and Pete Clifford.

Collin Cowgill: Ranked as Arizona's 10th best prospect by Baseball America, Cowgill enters the season as Mobile's starting left fielder. He's gotten off to a relatively hot start in the first 8 games, hitting 314/351/486 (11 for 35 with 4 doubles,a triple, 2 walks, 6 Ks). He's also 2 for 3 in the stole base department. Last year the short and scrappy 5'9 outfielder hit .277/373/445 with 9 doubles, 5 triples, 6 hrs, with a 49:29 K:BB ratio. He also had 11 stolen bases with a 73% success rate. For someone of such short stature, Cowgill has a surprising amount of power.

Evan Frey: After a disappointing season last year for Mobile where he posted a 686 OPS, Frey will be repeating AA this year. Frey is a hard-nosed, speedy, and excellent defensive outfielder who's known for his hustle. He's the kind of player you like to root for. After an excellent 2008 where he posted an 818 OPS in Mid-A and an 800 OPS in HI-A, Frey disappointed last year in Mobile, hitting 267/348/338. Even though he stole 31 bases last year, he was caught stealing 14 times, a 69 percent success rate. Frey needs to have a rebound season to regain his status as a prospect. Through the first 8 games, he's hitting 382/432/471 (13 for 34) with a double, triple, and two stolen bases(2-2 SB/CS)

 

Winston "Ollie" Linton: Promoted from Hi-A Visalia, where he hit 295/394/399 with 28 doubles, 10 triples, and a homerun, I believe Linton will be Mobile's starting centerfielder. Comparable to Frey, Ollie Linton is notable as one of the fastest players in the Diamondbacks farm system. Like Frey, he's the kind of player you love to root for. Although he's extremely fast (he stole 28 bases last season), he needs to work on his baserunning, as he was caught 14 times. Most of his value comes from his defense, batting average, and speed. He'll need to work on his plate discipline in order to succeed as a prospect. Last year he had a 65:104 BB:K ratio. Through his first 7 games he's 5 for 14 with a triple.   

 

Cyle Hankerd: A former third round pick, the 25 year old Hankerd appears to have lost his prospect standing  having stalled out in AA, and he'll be repeating AA for the third time this year. Last year he had a decent year hitting 266/344/393 with 33 doubles, a triple, and seven homeruns. Worth noting is his 15 outfield assists last season, second best in all of baseball.

 

Peter Clifford: Like Frey, Clifford had an excellent year in 2008 in HI-A Visalia, but had a poor year in Mobile last year. I wrote about Frey and Clifford way back in 2008. Clifford will begin the year on the disabled list.


Summary:

 

Mobile has a lot of good pitching with Wes Roemer, Barry Enright, Tom Layne, Patrick Mcananey, Bryan Shaw, Leyson Septimo, Roque Mercedes, Reid Mahon, and Kyler Newby. They don't have a lot of quality offensive prospects, but they do have a few average prospects in Konrad Schmidt, Collin Cowgill, Evan Frey, Ollie Linton, Taylor Harbin, and Jacob Elmore.

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