Truth be told, I wasn't planning on putting up a report today. I was going to postpone it a week once again, because I'm supposed to not be in Dublin right now nor have access to the internet. However, due to unprecedented levels of snowfall (at least by Irish standards), my 2:50 p.m. flight to Brussels to visit my girlfriend and other friends from the Rome program today was delayed until 6:30, then eventually canceled around 8:00. So now I'm back in my dorm room to get a bit of sleep before heading back out tomorrow for a lovely 7:50 a.m. departure. Brussels had better be freaking awesome.
Now, for the list. A couple more outfielders appear on today's list, like last week, as well as a pair of lefty starters and probably the most interesting prospect in the entire system. With the schedule craziness (i.e. the fact that I wasn't supposed to be posting this today), Zephon sadly once again does not make a cameo, and I also didn't manage to get Corby's input on the Missoula prospect in time. Perhaps the two of them would be kind enough to include their much-appreciated - by me, at the very least - thoughts in the comments.
Also, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, I have the notorious Wagner Mateo amateur scouting video linked up on this - it's the third one. With music like that, you'd expect that the D-backs had Captain America at their DSL affiliate last year!
11 - OF A.J. Pollock - 12/5/1987 - 22 years old - Highest Level: Low-A - IHSB’s ‘09 rank: #7
2010 Stats - Did Not Play: Shoulder Injury
Pollock missed the entire MiLB season with an injury that was originally supposed to sideline him for about three months. While this sadly has stunted his development, it certainly doesn’t crush his hopes of becoming a big-league regular. Pollock began this offseason in the Fall Instructional League, and then headed to the Arizona Fall League.
At the AFL, he got off to a hot start, doubling twice in his first game, and didn’t look back much from there. Nice doubles power, good contact skills, and plenty of walks made for a fantastically successful AFL stint for Pollock, despite having never played above Low-A ball. Even with the hitter’s league reputation of the AFL, Pollock was supposed to struggle in the Fall League. Towards the end of the fall league, Pollock’s injured shoulder started barking at him once again, and Pollock began to regularly slot in at DH instead of right field. This isn’t something that the off-season won’t take care of, though.
When he’s healthy, he has the ability to play center field with good contact skills and some pop in his bat, also profiling as a quick-riser after a successful career at Notre Dame. Even prior to the injury, there were "tweener" questions, though I get the impression that the team feels that his defense in center field is good enough to play there everyday. The fact that the team did not choose to move him to second base after the ’09 draft, as some had expected, is indicative of their belief in his defensive abilities in the middle of the outfield.
12 - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 9/10/1987 - 23 years old - Highest Level: Hi-A - IHSB’s ‘09 rank: #40
2010 Stats - Hi-A: 138 games, .314/.384/.606, 42 2B, 3 3B, 35 HR, 161:57 K:BB, .421 wOBA, .395 BABIP*.
Video link (with Keon Broxton and Ryan Wheeler)
I’ll say this about Paul Goldschmidt: ten years from now, I’ll still be discussing him in some way, whether he flames our or becomes the next Albert Pujols. Just look at those big numbers in his ‘10 stat line. Not just the home run and strikeout totals, but also the doubles, the walks, the wOBA, and the BABIP. All of them combine to make it so impossibly hard to know what to think about this guy.
Even his glove at first base has seen some positive reviews, in spite of plenty of "E: Goldschmidt (missed catch)" lines this year. Scouts and others close to the team - such as Rawhide broadcaster Donny Baarnes in his interview with Jim McLennan on the ‘Pit - speak of Goldschmidt’s above-average digging ability, and Goldschmidt isn’t a total Morneau-esque salt pillar at first. If you’re stuck defensively playing first base, it certainly doesn’t hurt if you can do that well.
As for what Goldschmidt does at the plate, I’ll begin by saying that I’m not one to crucify a player for swinging and missing – it happens. I’m also willing to be particularly forgiving if you put up a wOBA over .400. In addition, if you come a measly twelve extra-bases away from your slugging percentage being double your batting average, you’ll find yourself earning my approval (which, of course, I know everybody is after), particularly if that batting average is over .300.
However, I want to see the ability to continue to hit home runs against pitchers with off-speed pitches that are actually consistently moving and off-speed. I also want to see what happens when Goldschmidt’s BABIP regresses. The raw power is definitely legitimate, but he’s going to have to lay off or foul off off-speed stuff to be anything more than a fastball-mashing pinch hit bat at the big-league level. That said, I would be stunned if Goldschmidt is anything less than a solid bench bat in his career unless injuries take hold. That kind of raw power will play in big leagues, even if it has to be off the bench.
13 - LHP David Holmberg - 7/19/1991 - 19 years old - Highest Level: Rookie - IHSB’s ‘09 rank: N/A
2010 Stats - Rookie (CHW): 8 games (8 GS), 40 1/3 IP, 4.46 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 29:9 K:BB, 2 HR, 56.6% GB-Rate / Rookie (ARI): 7 games (7 GS), 37 1/3 IP, 3.06 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 47:7 K:BB, 2 HR, 49.6% GB-Rate.
Allow me to first say that I love David Holmberg. Acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Edwin Jackson trade, Holmberg is the hidden gem the D-backs received - as if we needed another reason to be excited about that deal with the work Daniel Hudson has done for us. A 19-year-old in Rookie ball, Holmberg features a fastball with middling-to-average velocity - reports have varied from 86-89 and into the low-90’s - questionable projectability, and a body that is already receiving comparisons to David Wells.
However, he also sports a pair of polished off-speed pitches, a curveball and a change-up, to go with a good feel for pitching. Those are attributes not often found in a high school pitcher. The last time the D-backs had their hands on a left-handed high school pitcher with this much polish, his name was Brett Anderson. Now, Holmberg likely won’t magically add a bunch of velocity on his fastball and become an ace like Anderson did, but not many pitchers have three solid pitches at 19 years old.
After arriving in Missoula, he was by far the best arm in the Osprey rotation. His final rates for Missoula were 11.33 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.69 walks per nine innings, and 0.48 home runs per nine innings. Those sound like the type of peripheral rates PhoenixFly puts up on MLB The Show. Holmberg is a mortal lock for a rotation slot in South Bend to begin 2011, and appears likely to be a quick-riser despite his youth.
14 - LHP Michael Belfiore - 10/3/1988 - 21 years old - Highest Level: Low-A - IHSB’s ‘09 rank: #6
2010 Stats - Low-A: 25 games (25 GS), 126 1/3 IP, 3.99 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 105:42 K:BB, 6 HR, 45.0% GB-Rate.
Most didn’t expect Belfiore to finish the 2010 season still at South Bend, though injuries and some bad luck conspired to ruin the best-laid plans. Belfiore still posted an impressive 3.16 FIP for the SilverHawks (by my formula), and can easily make up the time he lost to injury by rocketing through Visalia to start 2011. The polished college pitcher has a four-pitch mix that should allow him to stick it to Hi-A when he arrives there, and could land him a spot in the back of a big-league rotation down the line.
Similar to Collin Cowgill in 2009, the big question with Belfiore in 2010 is whether or not he can stay healthy for a full season. He is trying to make the difficult transition from college reliever to pro-ball starter, which can put a lot of stress on an arm. The fact that the words "forearm strain" have already appeared on his medical dossier have to provide worry over the future of his left elbow.
What is encouraging, however, is the fact that Belfiore returned from the injury and threw seven or more innings in four of his last six starts, so he appears to be in good health going into the off-season. If that continues into 2011, there’s no reason he couldn’t finish the year at Double-A and begin 2012 in Triple-A.
15 - OF Wagner Mateo - 3/30/1993 - 17 years old - Highest Level: Rookie (DSL) - IHSB’s ’09 rank: N/A
2010 Stats - Rookie (DSL): 67 games, .257/.359/.401, 14 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 83:35 K:BB, .327 wOBA, .380 BABIP*.
Many may have heard that Mateo was set to receive the highest bonus ever by a position player out of the Dominican when he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for a shade over $3MM. However, the Cards’ doctors found an eye condition that they didn’t feel they could fix, so the team voided their contract with Mateo. However, the D-backs’ medical staff gave Mateo a full exam prior to him signing for over $500,000, and passed him on all accounts, so we firmly believe he is okay medically.
If this is the case, we have a legitimate five-tool prospect on our hands that, while just 17 years old, projects as an impact-level player in the corner outfield. Despite playing in a league with players as old as their early 20’s, Mateo was the best bat in the DSL D-backs’ lineup all year (the DSL is a shockingly pitcher-friendly league), though he was also a common strikeout victim.
But Mateo is a player you can put high hopes on for the very long term, and the highest-profile Latin American prospect the team has had since Carlos Gonzalez. Look for him to make the jump to the states in 2011, likely headed to either the Short-Season or Rookie-level affiliate here. If the D-backs leave Missoula and opt to have a team in the Arizona League, I imagine Mateo would be the first player they’d assign to the "AZL D-backs," so all of the top-level development staff could keep close tabs on him.