Apologies this week for my failure to come up with some sort of a catchy title, I've got a midterm tomorrow and LadySouthBend arriving here in two hours. However, I'm pleased to let y'all know that not only is Zephon back on board with in-article comments (since I managed to send him the document more than two days before posting), but we have guest commenter Corby, from Missoula, here to provide extra commentary about the Osprey prospects that appear in the list.
Hopefully Corby will be able to chime in for the rest of the countdown - I already have a nugget of input from him on one player in next week's list and there's one segment from him for this week's collection. Also, it's worth noting that Corby absolutely oozed praise for Adam Eaton (CURSE YOU, AUTO-TAG!), who I left out of my top-50 list. I'm beginning to wonder if Jordan Freaking Norberto was worth putting ahead of Eaton. Oh well.
I delve another ten prospects deep into the list in this edition of the countdown, with six arms and four bats appearing on today's post. There is an absolute ton of upside in this group, both amongst some of the young arms and a few of the bats at the back end of the 30's. Also, let it be said that the fact that the guy we got for Chad Qualls is in this portion of the list is nothing shy of a miracle. Now, onto the prospects:
31 - RHP Yonata Ortega - 11/11/1986 - 23 years old - Highest Level: Hi-A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs as a Free Agent; Debuted for the DSL D-backs in 2006.
2010 Stats - Low-A: 35 games, 41 2/3 IP, 4.10 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 41:15 K:BB, 1 HR, 45.0% GB-Rate / Hi-A: 13 games, 12 2/3 IP, 1.42 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 15:3 K:BB, 1 HR, 51.6% GB-Rate.
Ortega started the year as a 23 year old repeating Low-A after missing all of the 2008 season, possessing a mid-90’s fastball but no control of it. Now that we’re at the end of the year, though, there is a light at the end of the tunnel - after dominating two levels, Ortega looks like he has an outside shot to be the next Jose Valverde. There was never a question of whether or not he could miss a bat, as Ortega struck out 38 batters in 38 innings in 2009 at South Bend. Unfortunately, he also walked 24 batters in that 2009 season. However, in 53 1/3 innings in 2010, Ortega has walked just 18 batters while still striking out 55, and, for what it’s worth, collecting 32 saves.
Most encouraging is the fact that Ortega’s best work of the season came at the end of the season, when he was with Visalia - just look at that absurd K:BB ratio with the Rawhide. Now, it’s a matter of whether or not Ortega can prove in 2011 that he has made legitimate progress in his control, and wasn’t abusing swing-happy Cal League hitters. A good 2011 campaign would do wonders for Ortega’s prospect stock, as he’s one of the few relief prospects in the D-backs’ system with legitimate closer potential.
Zephon: I’ll be honest, this is the first i’ve heard of Ortega, but boy does he have some eye catching numbers. The save numbers are a gaudy total, but really don’t mean much. It’s the eye catching 10+ K/9 and the progress he’s made on his BB/9 that really stand out to me. He’s brought his numbers down from a mind numbingly bad 5.68 last year to a much more respectable 2.13. I don’t know if he’s the next Jose Valverde, but he does have the chance to be a very good reliever.
32 - RHP Tyler Green - 11/24/1991 - 18 years old - Highest Level: N/A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs in the 8th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Did not pitch.
Green was a tough high-school sign by the D-backs from the ’10 draft, taken in the eighth round out of Texas high school, eventually given a $750,000 bonus. Green and Ty Linton, who was given a $1.25MM bonus, were the two players who the D-backs reallocated Barret Loux’s original $2MM bonus to (though Linton’s bonus is spread out over five years). Green has reportedly hit 95 mph on the radar gun, though obviously sits below that mark as a starter and has very limited off-speed stuff.
Green provides the D-backs with another projectable high school arm who could end up in the middle of a big-league rotation someday. The fact that Green signed so late means that he’ll spend 2011 exclusively at Missoula and likely be a year behind some of the other arms of the 2010 draft, who could be given opportunities to start at South Bend at some point next year.
Zephon: I don’t really have much to add other than the fact that the Dbacks’ have added a ton of projectable high school arms to the mix in the last year. I’m glad they’ve changed their philosophy from only going after college arms.
33 - RHP Blake Perry - 2/3/1992 - 18 years old - Highest Level: Rookie - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs in the 6th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Rookie: 1 game, 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 0:0 K:BB, 0 HR, 0.0% GB-Rate.
Perry is, as you might guess, a fairly similar case to Green. Given a $500,000 bonus out of high school, the D-backs like Perry’s potential as a projectable, solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. Perry is another piece of the high school arm renaissance going on in the D-backs’ system within the last two years. Check out the list of the projectable high school arms added to this system since the ’09 draft: Tyler Skaggs, Scottie Allen, Patrick Schuster, David Holmberg, J.R. Bradley, Robbie Rowland, James Green, and Perry. That’s a lot of good upside to have.
Zephon: Can’t really add more to what IHSB has said.
Corby: I only got to see Blake pitch once, since he came to the Osprey late in the year and needed to build up arm strength before he could be put into a game. I was happy with the one inning he pitched. He made fairly quick work of the Helena Brewers, pitching around a double to center field. Although his might not have been a hit had Adam Eaton been in CF instead of Rodriguez. Hector de la Cruz decided to mix things up during the final game, putting the faster Eaton in LF.
I really wanted to see him pitch another couple of innings, but he was on a short pitch count, so much so that they actually warmed up two pitchers before the game. Blake had good command of his pitches, hitting the low 90s with his fastball and displaying good command of his off speed stuff, which was limited since he only pitched one inning. I really hope we get him back in Missoula next year, but he'll probably be sent your way instead.
34 - RHP Wes Roemer - 10/7/1986 - 23 years old - Highest Level: Triple-A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: #11
Acquired by the D-backs in the 1/2 Sandwich Round (50th overall) of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - AA: 8 games (8 GS), 52 2/3 IP, 2.39 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 43:11 K:BB, 5 HR, 44.6% GB-Rate. / AAA: 14 games (12 GS), 71 2/3 IP, 7.03 ERA, 6.33 FIP, 57:39 K:BB, 17 HR, 43.5% GB-Rate.
A month into the season, you wouldn’t have expected Roemer to be anywhere outside of the top-fifteen on this list. Despite a delivery that seemed destined for the ‘pen, the D-backs have a history of letting violent deliveries try to survive in the rotation until they prove that they can’t (Max Scherzer ring a bell?). So Roemer’s strong start made him a strong candidate to see big-league time in 2010. Think of it this way: Roemer’s numbers were markedly better than Barry Enright’s at Mobile, and I imagine we would have seen Roemer called up first had he stayed at Mobile and continued to dominate.
Unfortunately, Roemer’s season fell apart once he was promoted to Triple-A Reno, though a ridiculous HR/FB% is largely to blame – more than one of every five fly balls Roemer allowed left the yard*. The poor results may lead the team to try the former Sandwich-round pick out in the big-league ‘pen and see if he sticks, perhaps as soon as next season if his home run numbers regress to respectability. The D-backs have Opening Day 2011 bullpen spots for the taking, and Roemer will be given a chance, though he will be a longshot heading into camp.
Zephon: Roemer dominated AA, but was awful in AAA. (It goes with out saying that Reno is a launching pad and inflates offense to a very high degree). I don’t really see him being anything other than a bullpen arm at this point.
35 - RHP Enrique Burgos - 11/23/1990 - 19 years old - Highest Level: Short-Season A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs as a Free Agent in 2007.
2010 Stats – Short-Season A: 15 games (15 GS), 68 IP, 4.50 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 54:54 K:BB, 1 HR, 40.6% GB-Rate.
Prior to the 2009 season, ESPN’s Keith Law named Burgos as the D-backs prospect most likely to make a jump into the following year's MLB top-100 prospects list, and Law included a scouting report on Burgos within the post, available here (Free INsider Preview!). Then, before the 2010 season, Burgos was ranked as the D-backs’ 10th-best prospect by Law, as Burgos has the body and arsenal to become a top-line big-league starter.
Unfortunately, Burgos' last two years have done anything but launch him up amongst the top-100 prospects in baseball. He still has yet to shake his serious control problems, and didn’t miss all that many bats in Short-Season ball. Further, that HR/FB rate is going to come way up from the 1.3%* mark of this season, so that FIP could be a lot uglier in a year if he doesn’t right his control.
Burgos is one of the team’s most high-profile international signings in recent memory. Between the signings of Wagner Mateo and Carlos Gonzalez, Burgos had been perhaps the team’s highest-profile signing, and as such was given a sizable signing bonus of $295,000 (the biggest of Josh Byrnes’ tenure prior to Mateo). Due to this fact, he’ll be given plenty of chances to make it as a starter, but if he can’t stop walking guys, he’ll end up in the bullpen or, unfortunately, will simply flame out.
Zephon: When I saw that KLaw rated Burgos as the Dbacks 10th best prospect, I thought he was craaaaaaaazy. Burgos is a nice projectable arm, but at this point he’s more talent than results. I’d bet money that if Burgos ends up as anything, it’s going to be as a reliever. Of course, that might not even happen if he keeps walking as many guys as he strikes out. Personally, I think IHSB has him ranked a little high. I would have ranked him in the 40s to 50s. But that’s just me.
36 - SS Zachary Walters - 9/5/1989 - 21 years old - Highest Level: Short-Season A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs in the 9th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Short-Season A: 69 games, .302/.338/.440, 18 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 59:16 K:BB, .340 wOBA, .370 BABIP.
Walters was the first position player taken by the D-backs in the 2010 draft, selected in the ninth round after injuries hampered him during his final season at UC-San Diego. However, upon arriving to Yakima, Walters realized that D-backs ninth-round picks are expected to perform like first-round picks (see Anderson, Chase), so he played along and proceeded to destroy the Northwest League.
Despite playing at a premium defensive position for the entire season, Walters was arguably the best bat in the Bears’ weak lineup. Now, Walters didn’t quite put up Ryan Wheeler-like offensive numbers, but it’s hard to argue with a .340 wOBA from a SS. Further, he made an appearance on BA’s Northwest League Top-20 Prospects List, coming in at #14, just one slot after Rangers’ 2010 first-round pick Jake Skole.
This is all not to say that Walters is without flaw - most glaring is the fact that he really struggles taking walks. But the pop in his bat is a very nice tool to see from his position. It will be interesting to see what Walters can do in full-season baseball, against competition that is more age-appropriate. Further, there is the question of whether or not he can stick at the challenging position, and whether the presence of Chris Owings at Visalia could force Walters to man second base in the short-term, hampering his long-term development at short.
Zephon: I really want to like Zach Walters, but the lack of walks is a big problem. And I’m not sure i can really trust the numbers of a 21 year old in Yakima. However, he does have a nice skill set for a middle infielder, and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in full season ball.
37 - RHP Matt Gorgen - 1/27/1987 - 23 years old - Highest Level: Double-A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
Acquired by the D-backs from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Chad Qualls Trade.
2010 Stats - Double-A (TB): 42 games, 49 IP, 1.65 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 47:21 K:BB, 2 HR.
I was shocked to look at Gorgen’s numbers after hearing that we had acquired him as the Player To Be Named Later of the Chad Qualls trade. The fact that we actually managed to acquire a legitimate relief prospect for Qualls, while paying none of Qualls’ remaining 2010 salary, is nothing shy of a miracle. As a team in need of a serious bullpen makeover, having a guy who just posted a 1.65 ERA at Double-A, who could theoretically help out as soon as next year, and who is controlled for six years is a god-send, right?
Well, unfortunately there are concerns with Gorgen that go beyond that ERA. First, there is a significant discrepancy between Gorgen’s ERA and FIP figures, an exhibit in the well-known volatility of relief pitchers’ performances. Second is Gorgen’s ground-ball rate, which is quite low (you’ll have to take my word on this stuff, minorleaguesplits.com was taken down after I collected everybody else’s numbers, and I and can’t find the data for Gorgen anywhere else) doesn’t seem to make him much of a fit in Chase Field.
What masked Gorgen’s low ground-ball rate was the fact that his HR/FB rate was about a quarter of what we would expect it to be at the big-league level. Unfortunately, this means that his FIP will likely see a huge spike as soon as that number regresses. A good and useful prospect, but these concerns and a few too many walks given up likely mean middle relief for Gorgen instead of the back-end of the ‘pen.
Zephon: I’m not really sure I have much to add other than to reiterate that we got this guy for Chad Friggen Qualls.
38 - 2B David Nick - 2/3/1990 - 20 years old - Highest Level: Low-A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: #37
Acquired by the D-backs in the 4th round of the 2009 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Low-A: 128 games, .251/.318/.366, 22 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 97:41 K:BB, .307 wOBA, .298 BABIP*.
Nick had a fairly lackluster year, and as much as I want to move him up on the list, I keep finding reasons to keep other players ahead of him. Maybe that .684 OPS has something to do with it... Nick features potential instead of probability, with plenty of pop in his bat, decent contact skills, and a solid glove for his position.
Unfortunately, he needs to work on all aspects of plate discipline, both in drawing more walks and striking out less often. As a positive note, he did perform better after moving into the third spot in the lineup when Matt Davidson was promoted to Visalia. Nick could start 2010 at Visalia or at South Bend again, though he’ll probably be expected to be in Visalia by mid-season in either case.
Zephon: David Nick had a pretty darn disappointing year, but he’s still a quality prospect IMHO. A repeat of South Bend would probably do him some good, and as IHSB said, he really needs to work on all aspects of plate discipline.
39 - CF Keon Broxton - 5/7/1990 - 20 years old - Highest Level: Low-A - IHSB’s ’09 rank: #21
Acquired by the D-backs in the 3rd round of the 2009 Rule 4 Draft.
2010 Stats - Low-A: 133 games, .228/.316/.360, 17 2B, 19 3B, 5 HR, 172:65 K:BB, .303 wOBA, .324 BABIP*.
Video link (videos at the bottom - with Paul Goldschmidt and Ryan Wheeler)
It’s been a mixed bag of a year for Broxton, though unfortunately most of it has been bad. The positives are that Broxton set the Midwest League single-season record for triples, and recorded his fair share of walks. Further, his defense in center field remained stellar throughout the 2010 season, as Broxton possesses great range and overall athleticism.
On the down side, Broxton has still scuffled in getting on-base since he struck out more than any other 2010 SilverHawk, a rough distinction given that the team was very K-heavy. Further, even though he hit plenty of triples, the home run power he displayed for Missoula in 2009 vanished. There are tons of tools to work with, though, including his defense in center field and raw power, so Broxton will be given plenty of time to develop and polish his skills in the minor leagues.
Zephon: Yes, I had a tremendous man-crush on Keon Broxton last year, but Broxton still oozes tools with plus defense, raw power, and tons of speed.
IHSB: Yep, still the toolsiest player in the system.
40 - C Konrad Schmidt - 8/2/1984 - 26 years old - Highest Level: MLB - IHSB’s ’09 rank: NR
Acquired by the D-backs as an Undrafted Free Agent in 2007.
2010 Stats - AA: 107 games, .315/.373/.490, 30 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 63:32 K:BB, .354 wOBA, .352 BABIP / MLB: 4 games, .125/.222/.125, 0:1 K:BB, .180 wOBA, .125 BABIP.
Konrad Schmidt is old. Alright, glad we’ve got that out of the way right up top. Despite his age, the former undrafted free agent and September call-up still could have a legitimate big-league career as a backup catcher. Further, he could serve that role for the D-backs as soon as 2011 if he can manage to beat out John Hester in Spring Training.
Schmidt earns rave reviews for his defense, particularly his ability to frame pitches, and has perhaps been the best hitter in the BayBears’ lineup in 2010. He has good contact skills, can draw some walks, and enough pop to keep pitchers honest. An everyday gig isn’t in his future, but he’ll provide value on the cheap for the D-backs. Schmidt was sent to the Arizona Fall League, but hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to showcase himself there.
Zephon: Once again, I don’t really have much to add. I just want to thank IHSB for doing such a great job on this prospect list. He’s really covered all the bases so my thoughts have been pretty limited as to what to add.
Well, it’s the product of much ignoring of my social life. :) Thanks to Wes for all of his contributions, it was great to have him on board again for this post. It's nice to have a different opinion on some of these guys. Next week I begin posts of just five prospects at a time, as we'll hopefully begin getting into some more interesting (and more well-known) names within the top-30.