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2009 Draftee Report Card, Part Three: Outfielders and Catchers

The Diamondbacks entered the 2009 draft with 4 extra draft picks in the first round and the 1/2 sandwich round, and came out of the draft with 37 out of 55 picks signed. Kieth Law ranked the D-backs as having the best draft in 2009, and other reviews of the Diamondbacks' draft have been positive as well. With so many quality players signed, this draft certainly has the potential to be best draft the Diamondbacks have had in their short history, and the team had a nice balance of high-upside high school talent and safer college picks at each stage of the draft. In this series of articles, we're going to take a look at each signed draftee's debut season, and see how they performed. If a scouting report on a player is available, we'll also take a look at that.

For week three of our 5 part prospect extravaganza we're looking at outfielders and catchers. I know someone is going to ask why we chose to stick the outfielders with the catchers, so I guess i should explain. The Dbacks just didn't draft all that many outfielders or catchers, so we chose to put them together to make the articles even in size. Next week we're looking at the first half of the whopping 19 pitchers the organization selected and subsequently signed. Then, when we're all done with the five weeks of '09 additions, both of us will offer our respective 2010 Amateur-opinion Diamondbacks top prospect lists.

The grades we used in this article are relative to the league average statistics and the average age of the players in the league that the player was in. In addition, each player's draft position and personal strengths and weaknesses are taken into account (i.e. how they were supposed to do). It's best to remember that the draft is generally a crap-shoot - you can never know which guys will make it and which won't. Some players' careers may be lost to injuries, others just may never be able to make the adjustments to the more advanced levels of hitting or pitching. If two or three players out of a draft become solid major leaguers, the draft is generally thought a success.

It's not that uncommon for a team to have a draft where none of the players drafted have any significant impact on the major league club (just ask Pittsburgh). It happens. It's why the draft is 50 rounds long and teams have 25 players on their big-league rosters. If one major league player out of this draft became an all-star and a handful of them became regular big-league players, the organization got a good haul. So when you see these grades, imagine that they're in a perfect world, where there's no injuries, and players don't regress. These are absolute best-case scenarios. We can't predict the future.

When you discuss outfielders for the Diamondbacks, the great trio the Snakes trotted out in the 2001 World Series season has to be mentioned immediately - Luis Gonzalez in left, Steve Finley in center, and Reggie Sanders, who we let leave the following offseason, in right.  Prior to the arrival of the 2009 Turbo-Charged Justin Upton, these three were arguably (with the debate between Sanders and Danny Bautista being a toss-up) the best players the Diamondbacks had ever had at the three respective positions.  Runners-up to the Big Three include Shawn Green, Bautista, Jose Guillen, and Devon White.  

Ever heard of Chris Jones, Hensley Meulens, and Matt Mieske?  We thought not.  Well, they're also just a small sampling of the numerous unheard-of outfielders the D-Backs have trotted out in their short history. And for 2010 we have a promising group of young outfielders, with the likely starters being that aforementioned 22-year-old guy named Upton in right, 26-year-old Chris Young in center, and a platoon of 26-year-old Conor Jackson and 22-year-old Gerardo Parra in left.  And there's a healthy competition for the fifth outfield spot quietly stirring between Alex Romero, Cole Gillespie, and the one man almost nobody wants to see remain in a Diamondbacks uniform, Eric Byrnes.

So the major-league outfield appears set for quite a while, and it's a good thing that it is, as there really isn't much talent other than Gillespie in the upper-levels of the minors ready to fill in.  AAA, if Gillespie is headed to the major-league roster, will contain no outfielders of note, unless Romero, Cyle Hankerd, and Chris Rahl put a banana in your pants.  AA will be where some of the higher-upside guys in the system start next season, most noteably Collin Cowgill and Ollie "Lightning" Linton, of completely different skill sets, but equally potent.  Cowgill is a good power hitter despite his 5'9'' frame, and can get on base.  Linton has almost no home run power, although he used his ridiculous speed to accumulate 28 doubles and a whopping 10 triples last season, reached base at a .394 mark, and stole 28 bases.  Further, Linton's speed makes him a plus defender in center, and he plays with the kind of reckless abandon that fans used to love about Byrnes.

They may ready for the majors just in the nick of time, as Cowgill, a more advanced hitter than Linton, could step in to backup/platoon with Parra when Co-Jack is a free agent in 2012, and Linton could be ready to start when CY is a free agent in 2014 (team has option for 2015 season).  But the team clearly didn't want to count on Cowgill has their only plan to replace Jackson, especially given the questions surrounding whether or not Jackson will return to his old levels of production, so it decided to use a few of its earlier picks in the draft on college outfielders with advanced bats and tool sets who could rise quickly and provide insurance for the outfield.  Then, to add a high-risk, high-reward outfield prospect to the lower ranks of the system, the team picked tool-shed Keon Broxton after solidifying the quick-rising ranks of the system.

Now, to move on to the catchers.  While usually a difficult position to solidify for many years, catcher has been a fairly stable position for the Diamondbacks throughout their history.  While we haven't had enough luck to find a Jorge Posada or Joe Mauer with a plus bat for the position for a dozen years, and we played too well last season to bank on Bryce Harper in the 2010 draft, we have been able to get six years (and counting, for now) from Chris Snyder, five years from Damian Miller, four years from Kelly Stinnett (although in two stints with the team, from '98-'00 and '05), and one real stop-gap starter in Johnny Estrada.  Further, we've even received some good consistency with backups, from Robby Hammock to Rod Barajas to Chad Moeller.  And, even though Snyder's clock in Arizona may be winding down, it appears that we have ourselves set at the position for many years once again with Miguel Montero's breakout season and a good cameo from John Hester, who appears to be a fairly capable backup for years to come.

So, even though the system lacks any real high-upside catchers outside of 20-year-old Rossmel Perez, especially with the lackluster seasons just put in by former Sandwich-round pick Ed Easley and Rule 5 draftee James Skelton, the team didn't need to spend a high pick on a backstop.  However, it is important to note that minor-league catchers are very important commodities.  It is in the minor leagues that catchers begin to actually call games for pitchers, and the way a catcher handles a top prospect pitcher may have a huge impact on that pitcher's development.  Therefore, it is crucial to have a solid group of organizational catchers who can call a good game for your pitchers and utilize each pitcher's strengths.  So, while the team had the opportunity to address other organizational needs first, it chose to select Tyson Van Winkle in the tenth round, and signed two catchers taken in the eighteenth and forty-fourth rounds, respectively.

Round 1, Pick 17 - A.J. Pollock 
Born: December 5, 1987 in Hebron, Connecticut School: University of Notre Dame Height: 6'1'' Weight: 200LBs Position: Center Field Bats: Right Throws: Right 
Mid-A South Bend:  ABs: 255 AVG/OBP/SLG: .271/.319/.376 XBH: 12 2Bs/3 3B/3 HRs K:BB: 36:16 ISO: .106 BABIP: .306 SB:CS 10:4 Errors: 1

Zephon: Pollock was one of our "safe" picks at 17 overall, a college bat that's should move quickly through the minors. Pollock is considered one of the better pure college hitters in this draft. He's a gap to gap line drive hitter who won't hit a ton of homers, maybe 10 to 15 at most. However, he does make up for that with his speed on the base paths. As he gets more experience he should become an excellent stolen base threat. Since he's recently converted from shortstop to the outfield, he still has a lot to learn defensively , but he should end up being a plus defender. Pollock got off to a slow start, heated up in July, had a poor August, and then had an excellent September to finish the year.  Although his on base percentage isn't all that great, he does have a pretty solid 2:1 strike out to walk ratio. Pollock's slugging percentage was really dragged down by the miserable August. Overall, I think Pollock had a pretty solid debut, and I think it'll be interesting to see how he does next year in (most likely) Visalia. Grade: C+ (Short-term: C, Long-term: B)

IHSB:  The way to describe the first pro season for the most oddly named man alive (Allen Lorenz Pollock = A.J. Pollock?) is solid but unspectacular, which is disappointing given that the organization expected him to rip through Mid-A South Bend given that Midwest League Competition wasn't foreign to Pollock, given that Notre Dame plays an exhibition game against the SilverHawks at the beginning of each season.  He’ll nevertheless rise to Visalia because the organization wants to push him through quickly after a standout career and Notre Dame, and his age requires this for his top-prospect standing.  Still a top-ten guy for the organization with his tools (speed, good contact bat, fielding, decent arm, light power) and occasional encouraging flashes of brilliance, but needs to show more consistency (or maybe some BABIP regression - his number for South Bend was .303, which, given his speed, may be low for Pollock), especially since the California League, which he’ll be entering, is a hitter’s paradise (although not quite to the proportions of the PCL).  The acquisition of Tony Abreu likely means that the middle infield of the future is jammed up with Abreu, Taylor Harbin, and Pedro Ciriaco, so the once-possible move to second-base, which, in my unprofessional opinion, would have made Pollock's bat more valuable and saved outfield spots for power hitters, Justin Upton, and Chris Young's contract, now becomes nearly a complete a non-possibility unless the team starts to clear a couple prospects for major-leaguers at next year's or 2011's trade deadline.  Good news with the stay in the outfield for Pollock is that his defense there is plus, as can be derived from his tool set.  It can be thought of this way: you can get a plus bat with solid defense at second, or a solid bat with plus defense in center field.  Grade: C+ (Short-term: C, Long-term: B-)


Round 2, Pick 64 - Marc Krauss
Born: October 5, 1987 in Deshler, Ohio SchoolOhio U Height: 6'3'' Weight: 235 Position: Left Field Bats: Left Throws: Right
Mid-A South Bend: ABs: 115 AVG/OBP/SLG: .304/.377/.478 XBH: 12 2Bs/1 3B/2 HRs  K:BB: 21:14 ISO: .174 BABIP: .359 Errors: 1

Zephon: With Justin Upton manning right field for as long as we can hopefully hold on to him, and Chris Young signed till 2013, left field is going to have a lot of guys competing for the job the next few years until someone completely locks down the position. Unfortunately for Marc Krauss, there's already Conor Jackson, Gerardo Parra, and A.J. Pollock ahead of him competing for the job. In addition, that doesn't even factor in a guy like Keon Broxton who's less projectionable, or guys like Borchering who may end up getting moved to the outfield.  Getting past that, Marc Krauss put up a very nice season in South Bend, with an above average batting, on base, slugging, and isolated slugging percentages. I'd like to see a few more homers out of him next season honestly, all though I don't mind a high BA doubles hitter (see Conor Jackson). He's got a very solid almost 3:2 K:BB ratio, not too many strikeouts. For the season, Krauss was 21, a touch younger than league average. Hopefully he'll be able to move through the system quickly. Grade B+ (Short term: B Long Term: B+)

  There were two big concerns about Marc Krauss going into his first professional season. First was how he would handle the transition from aluminum bats and crappy, in-conference pitching to wood bats and good, professional-level pitching. Welp (misspelling intended for dramaticish effect), so much for that little dilemma. Second was where, and how well, could he play defense.  Sadly, that one still hasn't been quite figured out. Nonetheless, he raked in his time in Mid-A fresh out of college, so it wouldn't be at all far-fetched if he ends up mashing the hitter-friendly California League and ends up in Mobile by the end of next season. Still, it's in cases like this where being an American League team would be really helpful. Especially since the position it appears he is most likely going to end up playing, left field (since right field is currently and hopefully forever-ly manned by a man named Upton), is home to Conor Jackson and Gerardo Parra (who is only going to be 23 next season to Krauss' 22) in the majors and guys like Cole Gillespie, Collin Cowgill, and South Bend teammate A.J. Pollock in the minors.  Could definitely see this being a high-quality bat used as a trade chip in a year or two.  Grade: B- (Short-term B, Long-term: C+)

Round 3, Pick 95 - Keon Broxton
Born: May 07, 1990 in Lakeland, Florida School: Santa Fe (Fla.) CC Height: 6'3'' Weight: 187 Position: Center Field Bats: Rights Throws: Right
Rookie-level Missoula: 272abs AVG/OBP/SLG: .246/.302/.474 XBH11 2B/9 3B/11 HRs K:BB: 93:19  ISO: .228 BABIP: .333 SB:CS: 6:1 Errors: 4

Zephon:  First, I must note that Keon Broxton is NOT related to the Dodgers relieverKeon Broxton is a player I'm probably a little too high on. I seem to always end up loving players that share my birthday(See Conor Jackson). Broxton is a multi-tooled outfielder who was raw but fast-improving during his junior college season. Physical comparisons have ranged from Rondell White to Matt Kemp. His strike zone judgement is sketchy, but it's obvious from his numbers that he not only has some serious power, but some serious wheels as well.  I think this guy is definitely a  diamond in the rough. As IHSB notes, he's basically Chris Young. If this guy figures out the strike zone, he could be something special. Take a look at his XBH numbers, especially the ridiculous 9 triples. Then look at his excellent .228 ISOThis is a guy I think you should be keeping an eye on over the next couple years. Grade: B (Short Term: B Long term: B+)

IHSB Although it's worth noting that Zephon has a moderately unwarranted solid man-crush on Keon Broxton, it's not like Keon Broxton is bad. Quite the contrary - he plays a solid center field, has wheels, hits for power, and strikes out a ton. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we've found Chris Young again. He's just 19 years old, just finished slugging all over the Pioneer League, and will definitely be in line for a slow path through Yakima next season to work on those on-base skills. It'll take a lot of work, but if this guy figures out that his bat doesn't need to go below his knees or above the letters, he'll do some special things.  Grade: B+ (Short-term: B, Long-Term: B+)


Round 10, pick 306 Tyson Van Winkle 
Born: February 2, 1988 In Vancouver, Washington School: Gonzaga Height: 6'1'' Weight: 190 Position: Catcher Bats: Right Throws: Right
Low-A Yakima: ABs: 156 AVG/OBP/SLG: .244/.367/.308 XBH: 10 2B  K:BB: 35:25 ISO: .064 BABIP: .314 SB:CS 4:2
Mid-A South Bend: ABs: 17 AVG/OBP/SLG: .059/.111/.059 XBH: None K:BB: 2:1 ISO: .000 BABIP: .067

Zephon:  First I have to say it: Tyson Van Winkle is a funny name. Now to the analysis. At first glance, Tyson had a relatively mediocre season, but he did have two bright spots: His on base percentage in Yakima was 123 points higher than his batting average, and his strike out to walk ratio is a pretty decent 7:5 ratio. I'm not even going to bothering discussing his time in South Bend, other than the fact that it appears he was the victim of extremely bad luck, sporting a BABIP of .067. Winkle is the highest drafted catcher in the Dbacks' 09 draft. With the offensive skillset he's shown, i would think he'd best succeed as a defense first catcher in the mold of Chris Snyder, a guy who can draw walks and maybe hit for a little pop, although the latter he has yet to show. Grade: C (Short term: C- Long term C)

IHSB:  17 at-bats is too few to make any judgment on, so people should only bother to look at the Yakima numbers.  From those numbers, we find one thing that Van Winkle needs to really improve upon in order to make himself a solid catching prospect.  He needs to find some sort of power that can make him into an OPS "Moneyball" guy (hearkening to Oakland GM Billy Beane's book about deeper statistical analysis of baseball players, although the original definition of a "Moneyball" guy has been stretched to be anybody with a high OPS and low BA), the type of player that casual fans will hate because he'll have low batting averages, but the type of guy that the stat nerds (like me) will like because he gets the job done without making a whole lot of contact.  And, of course, he needs to know how to handle a pitching staff.  However, the Diamondbacks have historically been good at developing good defensive/game-managing catchers (see Chris Snyder, Rod Barajas).  This makes the biggest question the Van Winkle's power, which is crucial to his development.  Without power, Van Winkle flops, no questions asked.  Grade: C- (Short-term C-, Long-term: C-)

Round 18, Pick 546 - Roidany Aguila
Born:10/22/1990 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico School: Colegio Nuestra Senora de la Providencia HS Height: 5'10'' Weight: 17Position: Catcher Bats: Right Throws: Right
Rookie-level Missoula: 13 ABS AVG/OBP/SLG: .000/.000/000 XBH: 0 ISO: BABIP: .000 K:BB 6:0
Low-A Yakima: 42 ABs  AVG/OBP/SLG: .119/.156/.143 XBH: 1 double ISO: .034 BABIP .172 K:BB 13:1

Zephon: I won't bother with a grade for this one. Roidany Aguila did absolutely nothing in his 57 ABS. Even if he raked in those at bats, it wouldn't mean much, since it's such a small sample size. It does he appear that he was a victim of bad luck with a BABIP of 000 in Missoula, and BABIP of .172 in Yakima. The big positive for Aguila his age. He was 18 during the whole season, and only turned 19 after the season ended. Latin American prospects tend to be quite raw, and seem to take a while to develop, but Aquila does have youth on his side.  Grade: Incomplete

IHSB:  Nothing else to say here that Zephon didn't already.  57 ABs is too few, but the kid has time.  Young catching prospects are always intruiging, but, especially coming from Latin America and having a position that requires a good relationship with the pitching staff, lots of development is a must. Grade: Incomplete

Round 26, Pick 786 - Daniel Kaczrowski
Born: 06/17/1987 in St. Anthony, MN School: Hamline U Height: 5'9'' Weight: 170 Position: Left Field Bats: Right Throws: Right
Low-A Yakima: 274ABS AVG/OBP/SLG: .266/.345/.343 XBH: 16 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homerun ISO: .077 K:BB 42:28 BABIP: .312 SB:CS 12:3

Zephon: Another one of the 'owskis selected by the Dbacks this year, and another one I'm rooting for purely based on his last name.  In college Kaczrowski was a shortstop, but after signing with the Dbacks, Kaczrowski was moved to the outfield. I'm not sure if the move was permanent, or just to get him playing time, but it does reduce the value of his offense. Looking at his offensive statistics, there really isn't that much to say. The batting average isn't bad, but it's not that good. His on base percentage is pretty decent considering the low batting average, and his strike out to walk ratio is a respectable 4:3. In addition, all though his power numbers aren't that great, Kazcrowski makes up for it a bit with his excellent 80 percent success rate on the base paths. If Kaczrowski doesn't develop more power, he's going to have to succceed at the major league level by basically being the good version of Juan Pierre: a guy who hits for contact, draws a lot of walks, and swipe lots of bags. If he could get moved back to the infield, he'd be worth a lot more, but who know if that's even an option. Grade: C (Short term: C Long term: C-)

IHSB:  Doesn't have the bat to make in the outfield, so even though it's where he played this year, he'll likely be found in the middle infielders section when it comes time to check back in on these guys.  I can only speculate that the 5'9'' Kaczrowski was put in the outfield because, of the plethora of middle infielders that the Osprey had available to it, Kaczrowski was the one that the team has the least invested in, as he's a 26th round pick.  However, given 
his draft spot, putting up an OPS just shy of .700 while probably uncomfortable playing out of position is pretty solid.  Another guy whose career goal is to be Augie Ojeda, the fact that the team is juggling him around the diamond already is absolutely detrimental to the part of his game he needs to focus on the most, his defense.  It's a bit of shame when a team's handling of a player has a negative impact on the player's development, but in this case, given the sheer quantity of middle infielders covered last week, it's understandable that Kaczrowski was juggled.  Grade: B- (Short-term: B, Long-term: C)

Round 44, Pick 1326 Zach Varnell 
Born06/25/1986 Pine Bluff, AR School:U Arkansas Pine Bluff Height: 6'1'' Weight: 200 Position: Catcher Bats: Right Throws: Right
Low-A Yakima: 37abs AVG/OBP/SLG: .108/.267/.135 XBH: 1 double K:BB: 20:8

Zephon: The very last pick to sign with the Diamondbacks was Zach Varnell, a catcher out of Arkansas. There's really not all that much to say about the guy, as he had a pretty poor debut season. I think the only thing worth mentioning is the fact that his on base percentage is 159 points higher than his batting average, and he does have a pretty decent 2 to 1 strike out to walk ratio. Other than that, there's not a whole lot of a positives for this guy. He'll more than likely end up being minor league organizational filler, all though then again, there's been some other catchers that teams have signed in the last round that have turned out pretty well... Grade: Incomplete. And Pointless.

IHSB:  There's a reason that Varnell was picked later than any other kid we signed - he's an organizational guy.  Catchers are always valuable commodities, as mentioned in the introduction, and that's what Varnell is here for.  The bat is pretty much irrelevant, as we can't have any real expectations of him ever reaching the major leagues.  All we can honestly hope for is for Varnell to handle the pitching staff of Yakima, South Bend, or wherever the heck the team decides to put him (it really doesn't matter) well.  And since I have no information on how Varnell handles a pitching staff, there is no grade that I feel I can assign here.  Grade: Incomplete (and Irrelevant)

The Diamondbacks seem to be pretty set in the outfield with Justin Upton, Chris Young, Conor Jackson, Gerardo Parra, and Cole Gillespie. However, there's still some concern about Chris Young's offense, and Conor Jackson will be a free agent in 2012.  Although the outfield is not the most pressing of needs for the Diamondbacks at the major league level, in the minors there's a lack of impact talent, so they took two promising (and hopefully fast moving) college bats in A.J. Pollock and Marc Krauss. In addition they added a high ceiling, toolsy and young raw prospect in Keon Broxton.  Daniel Kaczrowski was drafted as a shortstop and will most likely end up being moved back to the middle infield next year. 

Moving onto the catching position, the Diamondbacks seem to be pretty set with Miguel Montero, Chris Snyder (who will most likely be moved during this offseason), and John Hester at the major league level. While the team had the opportunity to address other organizational needs first, it chose to select Tyson Van Winkle in the tenth round, and signed two catchers taken in the eighteenth and forty-fourth rounds, respectively. Tyson Van Winkle has a chance to be a high OPS catcher in the vein of Chris Snyder; 18th rounder Roidany Aguila is a young Latin American talent that is a total wild card, and Zach Varnell fills the need for an organizational catcher.

Next week we'll begin looking at the whopping 19 pitchers taken in the draft, starting with pitchers A through Hale. Before we close, I, Zephon, would just like to once again make note of the resources we used to create this series of articles:,, and; plus a special thanks to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic and emilylovesthedbacks for doing the final edits to the article. I'd also like to thank IHateSouthBend for collaborating with me on these articles. With out him, this series of articles wouldn't be possible, and wouldn't be nearly as good... So thanks dude. And to the everyone else on Snakepit, I'd just like to thank you all for the positive feedback you've given us so far. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned next week for part three!