Diamondbacks Minor Leaguers in Review: South Bend Infielders

Fidel Pena had a promising season derailed by injury. - Arizona Diamondbacks

South Bend's roster of hitters is fairly devoid of impact bats that we can get excited about going forward. This is probably a product of the 2011 draft which was so heavily focused on pitching. The infield in particular has only one, maybe two players of interest going forward.

I do expect that to change next year when some pretty interesting bats from Missoula and the AZL will be populating this roster. These will all have come from the 2012 draft which was totally focused on hitters. Two of the better bats were promoted mid-season in Gerson Montilla and Ender Inciarte. I only see 2-3 graduations coming here, while a couple more will stay in South Bend to try and improve, and several others are in danger of losing their professional jobs. So let's take a look at what we have in the infield.

1B/3B Matt Helm, 22, .271/.349/.402
Plus Stat: .751 OPS Minus Stat: .751 OPS
Acquired: 2009 Draft - 7th Round
Matt Helm is a good baseball player, and he's a local kid from Chandler, AZ. The problem is he's not a great baseball player. He's been stuck at South Bend for a little over 2 years and it's possible he still hasn't earned a promotion. He hits in the middle of the South Bend order and he produces, but for a corner infielder there's just not enough power or hitting in general to suggest he's going very far. I think they'll give him a chance in Visalia next year where maybe the great hitting environment will give his numbers the kind of boost they need to get noticed. He's a solid organizational kid but I'm afraid not too much more than that. But he is on the youngish side still so I won't totally write him off yet.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: AA

3B Ryan Court, 24, .264/.341/.399
Plus Stat: .341 OBP Minus Stat: 111 K
Acquired: 2011 Draft - 23rd Round
Court is another solid organizational guy that does enough to keep playing but not enough to make anyone think he has an interesting future. He strikes out too much and has marginal power. He's already 24 so he may be forced into a backup job here pretty quickly if he doesn't bust out. He's got a couple more years hanging around and he's serviceable for the lower levels. That's about it.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: High A

C Fidel Pena, 19, .261/.334/.679
Plus Stat: 19 YO Minus Stat: .345 SLG
Acquired: 2009 Dominican Free Agent
Pena is a very interesting prospect who really started to come into his own recently. He was signed as a middle infielder back in 2009 but was converted to catcher and was really busting onto the scene this year as the starting catcher for South Bend. Some scouting web sites have even projected the possibility that Pena is a future Major Leaguer if he can stay at the position, which it looks like he can. Unfortunately his season got derailed when he injured his arm in July (I'm lacking details on this) and missed the rest of the season. With all the recent catching talent acquired and his 2nd half injury, Pena is a bit of the forgotten man. But if he can come back healthy next year and keep improving on his hitting, he'll have something to say about the future of this position. He's going to command an important minor league starting job somewhere next year. My best guess is Visalia.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: Major League

C Roidany Aguila, 21, .254/.299/.378/.678
Plus Stat: 7 HR Minus Stat: .299 OBP
Acquired: 2009 Draft - 18th Round
Aguila was the beneficiary of Pena's injury as he handled the lion's share of the catching throughout the second half. Unfortunately he didn't do enough to warrant commanding the starting job somewhere else, what with all the catching depth roaring up the organization behind him. He'll earn a backup job somewhere next year but probably not much more than that.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: High A

SS Sean Jamieson, 23, .244/.354/.389
Plus Stat: .903 OPS for SB Minus Stat: .724 OPS for Burlington
Acquired: 2012: Trade from Oakland for Stephen Drew
Nobody got too excited at what the Dbacks got for giving Drew to the A's, but Jamieson certainly enjoyed his surroundings for the couple of weeks he was in South Bend. In 14 games with South Bend Jamieson posted a .903 OPS, compared to a .724 OPS for Burlington leading up to the trade. Jamieson has some skills--he can get on base and he can steal a base. He'll get his chance at the next couple of levels but I don't see any amazing breakout coming. Solid organizational depth is about all we're getting here.
2013 Projection: High A Visalia
Ceiling: AAA

SS Raul Navarro, 20, .249/.325/.290
Plus Stat: 12.7% K-Rate Minus Stat: .290 SLG
Acquired: 2009 Dominican Free Agent
Navarro has been playing against older players throughout his development. While he's been far from a breakout prospect he hasn't been a bust yet either. However, he's been closer to bust than breakout. He is still young and he had a solid .783 OPS season in Missoula as an 18-year-old in 2010. 2011 wasn't as kind and 2012 was only a little bit better, but still better. Navarro will almost surely stay in South Bend and be given a full time chance to become a more interesting prospect. Jury is leaning against.
2013 Projection: Low A South Bend
Ceiling: AA

2B Nike Gallego, 23, .220/.274/.285
Plus Stat: None Minus Stat: All
Acquired: 2010 Draft - 27th Round
It's the end of the line for this former UCLA infielder. He was a backup this year and not a very good one.
2013 Projection: Released

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