I wanted to do this before spring training started, but whatever. I'll be doing two more of these after the trading deadline, and the regular season. These rankings are based off scouting reports, value to the team, and overall talent. So let's take a look at the top 10 prospects in the NL West.
You don't often see a prospect born to be a reliever. But that's exactly what Hembree is. He's known for his great movement on his fastball and slider. That movement sometimes can come back to haunt him, as he falls behind hitters, but he'll strike out a ton, over one per inning. If he can develop a change up, he'll be deadly, but don't get your hopes up on that. Pitching in AT&T should help him excel even more, as he didn't give up a earned run in 9 appearances last year.
Fried is a lot like Tyler Skaggs. Curveball with a big break on it, and an average fastball with good location. He's very tall and lengthy, but a great athlete. Fried could use a little more velocity on his fastball to become even more affective. He's only 19, so there's plenty of time for him to gain velocity as he gets to his twenties, or develop a change-up.
Withrow is still considered a "Prospect" as he only pitched 34.2 innings last year. In that time, WIthrow had an era of 2.60, over a strikeout per inning, and only 13 walks. He's known for throwing that 95-97 mph fastball on the corners, which sets up his tight spin slider. This fastball command comes in big handy when down in the count. It will be interesting to see how far he makes it into the Dodgers bullpen. On any other team, he would look to be their future set-up man/closer, but you know those Dodgers.....
Herrera had a monster year in class A Ball, hitting .343, .515 slugging percentage, and a .933 OPS. The Rockies fully expect him to see AA and AAA pitching this year. It will be interesting to see if he can increase on his power and speed in 2014, as he was a bit disappointing in both those areas last year. He won't win any Gold Gloves, but he does have depth in the field, as he can play third and the outfield. Herrera is one of the most interesting things to watch this spring, and upcoming season, as he will be the man to replace Tulo.
One of the most talked about prospects all across baseball, as Owings and Didi will battle it out this spring, and most likely throughout the season. The defending PCL MVP is known for one thing: Hitting. He demolished PCL pitching, batting .330. He's not a big guy, so he won't hit for much power, but does give you the stolen base option. The one thing Owings lacks is defense, and that keeps him out of the top five. If Owings can raise his fielding percentage, and show a bit better range, there is no reason he can't be a great MLB shortstop.
5. Zach Lee, RHP, Dodgers
Lee won't blow you away with anything, but he defines great location and frustrating batters. His fastball ranges from 90-92 mph, although a chance to rise. He also has a cutter to hit the corners, and get inside on batters, which causes a lot of broken bats. He's best when he can get his change up to fade away, which is his big strikeout pitch.
4. Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies
Butler is pretty much the opposite of Zach Lee. A big power pitcher with great movement on all of his pitches, but can sometimes get out of control. His slider and change up are both above average pitches, which is a HUGE plus for him when effective. His change is in the mid 80's with great movement. He could work on his slider a little, but is very effective at confusing the hitter with that pitch ahead in the count. If Butler can get better control on his pitches, he will be a very effective mlb pitcher.
3. Austin Hedges, C, Padres
Hedges had a bit of a disappointing year in the minors, batting only .270 in the California League. But it's way too early to question his hitting, as he has plenty of power, and great patience at the plate. Hedges' defense is what makes him a great catcher. His arm is the best in the minors, and great movement when blocking balls. His defense will get him playing time, and if he raises his average, or shows his power, he could become one of the better catchers in baseball.
2. Jon Gray, RHP, Rockies
Gray can throw from 94-99 mph, and top out in the triple digits. He can place that fastball better then any pitcher in the minors. His slider is thrown is the mid 80's with fabulous sharp break on it. His changeup still could improve, but it does fool hitters. While Gray's fastball alone will get him into the majors, his great slider, and decent changeup might finally be the piece the Rockies have been looking for.
1. Archie Bradley, RHP, Diamondbacks
Well, Duhhhh. Not only is Archie the best prospect in the NL West, but maybe in the entire MLB. And he's a Diamondback, so that helps his cause. :)
His control is top-notch when pitching his mid 90's fastball. Bradley's curveball is without question his best pitch. When throwing it effectively, it has Adam Wainwright type downward movement, and makes batters look silly. His changeup has nice movement on it as well. His control is something to work on, especially when he tries to throw his fastball in the triple digits, but his control is nothing to sweat about. Hopefully, the next great pitcher in baseball.