AZ SnakePit Top-30 Prospects List For 2011- Preview & Link Hub (Updated 12/2)

With the World Series nearing an end and the off-season almost officially here, it's time to get started with the official AZ SnakePit off-season top-30 prospects list. This year, blue bulldog and I have each created our own top-30 lists for the team, with "points" assigned to each prospect based on their rankings from each of us - 30 points for a #1 ranking, 29 points for a #2 ranking, etc. - and ranked overall from most points to least. There were definitely discrepancies between bb's list and my own, which I was happy to see (that's the whole point of collaboration, after all), and 35 prospects received votes. The five vote-getters to not make the list will be detailed at the end of this post, partially to give them the credit they deserve and partially as a preview for what to expect for the next few posts. So follow us after the break to see how everything will be laid out!

Here's how things will go down: there will be posts once a week with five prospects each, so there will be six posts in total, beginning this Friday and concluding (hopefully) on the second of December. Each list of five prospects will contain the respective ranking of the prospect on each of bb's and my own individual lists, as well as a write-up from me - keep this in mind if the write-ups suggest preference that is not in accordance with the aggregate list - of each prospect. As the posts come out, this page will be updated with links to each post to allow for access once the posts leave the front page, and will be updated with the aggregate list and where each detailed player slots in on each of bb's and my personal lists. All three lists will be detailed in a spreadsheet on this FanPost page. This is a ton of fun for me to work on, and if people here enjoy it, all the better.

Aggregate List:

1. RHP Trevor Bauer (link 1-5)

2. LHP Tyler Skaggs

3. RHP Jarrod Parker

4. RHP Archie Bradley

5. 3B Matthew Davidson

6. (t) CF A.J. Pollock (link 6-10)

6. (t) LHP Wade Miley

8. LHP Andrew Chafin

9. SS Chris Owings

10. LF/1B Bobby Borchering

11. (t) LHP David Holmberg (link 11-15)

11. (t) OF Adam Eaton

11. (t) LHP Patrick Corbin

14. RHP Charles Brewer

15. RHP Anthony Meo

16. RHP Evan Marshall (link 16-20)

17. 3B Ryan Wheeler

18. OF Ty Linton

19. (t) OF Marc Krauss

19. (t) CF Keon Broxton

21. (t) 2B David Nick (link 21-25)

21. (t) RHP Chase Anderson

23. RHP Kevin Munson

24. RHP Ryan Cook

25. RHP J.R. Bradley

26. OF Collin Cowgill (link 26-30)

27 (t). RHP Blake Perry

27 (t). OF Wagner Mateo

29. RHP Tyler Green

30. RHP Kyle Winkler

Dan's List:

1. RHP Trevor Bauer

2. LHP Tyler Skaggs

3. RHP Jarrod Parker

4. RHP Archie Bradley

5. 3B Matthew Davidson

6. CF A.J. Pollock

7. LHP Wade Miley

8. SS Chris Owings

9. LHP Patrick Corbin

10. LHP Andrew Chafin

11. LF/1B Bobby Borchering

12. RHP Anthony Meo

13. RHP Charles Brewer

14. LHP David Holmberg

15. OF Adam Eaton

16. RHP Evan Marshall

17. OF Ty Linton

18. 2B David Nick

19. CF Keon Broxton

20. RHP J.R. Bradley

21. OF Collin Cowgill

22. RHP Blake Perry

23. 3B Ryan Wheeler

24. RHP Tyler Green

25. RHP Kevin Munson

26. OF Marc Krauss

27. RHP Robby Rowland

28. C Michael Perez

29. RHP Ryan Cook

30. CF Justin Bianco

bb's List:

1. RHP Trevor Bauer

2. LHP Tyler Skaggs

3. RHP Jarrod Parker

4. RHP Archie Bradley

5. 3B Matthew Davidson

6. LHP Andrew Chafin

7. LHP Wade Miley

8. CF A.J. Pollock

9. OF Adam Eaton

10. LHP David Holmberg

11. LF/1B Bobby Borchering

12. SS Chris Owings

13. RHP Chase Anderson

14. RHP Charles Brewer

15. LHP Patrick Corbin

16. 3B Ryan Wheeler

17. OF Marc Krauss

18. RHP Anthony Meo

19. RHP Ryan Cook

20. RHP Kevin Munson

21. RHP Evan Marshall

22. OF Wagner Mateo

23. OF Ty Linton

24. CF Keon Broxton

25. RHP Kyle Winkler

26. 2B David Nick

27. RHP Jesse Darrah

28. LHP Patrick Schuster

29. RHP J.R. Bradley

30. RHP Tyler Green

Just Missed - Prospects 31-35:

RHP Robby Rowland
Dan: 27 / Michael : NR

Rowland, selected one round after J.R. Bradley in the 2010 draft, is a very similar prospect to Bradley - a high-risk arm with a high ceiling if he pans out. Unlike Bradley, Rowland is spending his second year at Missoula after spending the Spring in Extended Spring Training, yet still failed to conquer the Pioneer League. Rowland had relatively strong peripherals for the Osprey, with a 52:17 K:BB ratio and 2.16 GO/AO in 68 innings, but the results weren't there, as an over-abundance of hits led to far too many runs crossing the plate. All in all, Rowland gave up 65 runs - 61 earned - for an 8.07 ERA, surrendering a staggering 95 hits. That kind of hit rate suggests something far more than simple bad luck on balls in play, even in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League, as it appears that Rowland is going through immense command struggles that are allowing professional hitters to repeatedly square up the ball for line drives.

Thankfully, the report on Rowland is also promising. Rowland's immense 6'6" frame is a classic power pitcher's build, and as the 19-year-old adds strength (read: velocity), polishes his off-speed pitches - he had a good curveball going into the draft, but is in the process of developing a quality third pitch - and begins to locate his fastball better, he could also fill in a slot in the middle of a major league rotation. Aside from hit rate, all of the peripheral performance indicators are strong, and the scouting reports have remained promising, if still a bit of a dream. It's worth remembering that Bradley and Rowland each received signing bonuses of less than $500,000, so if just one of them pans out into a quality major-league starter, the D-backs will have pulled off a heist.

RHP Jesse Darrah
Dan: NR / Michael: 27

The D-backs selected Darrah in the eighth round of the 2011 draft out of Fresno Pacific, and sent him to Rookie-level Missoula. While with the Osprey, the right-hander put on a strikeout clinic, whiffing 68 batters in just 59.1 innings of work in the hitter-friendly conditions of the Pioneer League. Seeing Darrah put up those kind of strikeout numbers immediately after finishing a college season that saw him whiff 101 batters in 88.2 innings with FPU (and posting a 2.44 ERA with the Sunbirds) provide hope that Darrah could be someone who is able to quickly rise through the A-levels of the farm system. Darrah further demonstrated his polish in an exhibition game against Triple-A Fresno of the Giants organization, working three innings for FPU and striking out Darren Ford, Conor Gillaspie, and Chris Stewart, all of whom spent time with the Giants this year.

Darrah's stuff isn't elite, but he can regularly get his fastball into the 90's and sports a pair of off-speed offerings, the better of which is his change-up. Because his primary off-speed out pitch is a change, it's not particularly surprising that it has been very easy for Darrah to rack up strikeouts, as hitters at that level often have limited experience against off-speed stuff and struggle to adjust their timing at the plate. His ability to keep it up in the upper levels might depend on the strength of his curveball, but there's some sleeper potential in Darrah if his hit-rate, which might be a product of the hitter-friendliness of the Pioneer League, comes down.

C Michael Perez
Dan: 28 / Michael : NR

Arizona went into the 2011 draft looking to improve their high-upside catching depth in the minor leagues. It certainly made sense, as none of the catchers they had in the system at the start of the year - Konrad Schmidt, John Hester (and eventually Lucas May), Ed Easley, Rossmel Perez, and Raywilly Gomez - profile as everyday types (although there are some potential quality backups in the group). The club took a solid step in filling this void in the system by selecting young Michael Perez in the fifth round, rounding out a phenomenal top-five rounds of the draft. Formerly a pitcher, Perez intrigued scouts with the promise of plus left-handed bat speed and a strong throwing arm behind the plate.

If he can put it all together he could be a phenomenal everyday catcher, although he is as raw as it gets behind the plate in his receiving and pitch-calling, being new to the position. His body is also more wiry than the typical catcher, but he ought to add more bulk and strength as he matures and escapes his teenage years. Even if the defense doesn't come together behind the plate, he could move off the position to either third base or right field if his bat speed translates into solid contact and power hitting skills. Perez debuted in the AZL and crushed a home run in his first professional game, showing a glimpse of the kind of two-way threat Perez could someday be. For now, though, his development should be expected to take some time, particularly given his position.

LHP Patrick Schuster
Dan: NR / Michael : 28

Schuster is someone who I had the opportunity to see in person multiple times earlier this year for South Bend, and he left me with very mixed feelings. On one hand, Schuster is rail-thin and projectable, nearly all limbs and length at this point of his career, which suggests that he should be able to support a significant amount of extra weight that could translate to extra velocity. Combined with a solid set of off-speed pitches, including a breaking ball that showed flashes of being a swing-and-miss pitch, and there are certainly some tools here that suggest that Schuster could live up to his six-figure bonus and crack a big-league rotation someday.

However, I couldn't help but be underwhelmed by the total package. Schuster's fastball came in from 85-88 mph, so unless he makes an absolutely monumental jump in velocity, he'll barely skim the low-90's even after his body fills out. Additionally, Schuster's mechanics gave me reason for concern when I saw him both at the start of the year in the Spring, and when I saw him at the end of the year as Fall approached. Early in the year, Schuster's mechanics out of the stretch were dramatically different than his mechanics out of the wind-up, with two different landing spots for his plant foot and with his body drifting towards first base out of the stretch, which gave me concerns about his ability to maintain command and control of two distinctly different deliveries.

This issue had been largely ironed out at the end of the year, as his mechanics were much more consistent and repeatable, but I still had issues with Schuster's arm slot. Near the end of the year, Schuster threw almost sidearm in front of me, and combined with an average-at-best fastball made him look an awful lot like a lefty specialist than a starter. Right-handed hitters at the big-league level would absolutely feast on fringey fastballs coming in in the upper-80's from a sidearm slot. Of course, if Schuster moves to relief, he could be a phenomenal specialist, with the prototypical combination of a difficult-to-read arm angle and a swing-and-miss breaking ball. That has value, although I imagine it's not what the club was hoping for.

CF Justin Bianco
Dan: 30 / Michael : NR

After splurging through the first two rounds on several high-bonus picks, Arizona needed to tone down their spending in the third round of the 2011 draft. Despite spending restrictions, Arizona was able to go for an upside pick by taking Bianco, a high school outfielder from a cold-weather state (New Jersey). Praised by scouts for average tools across-the-board and above-average power potential, the D-backs moved Bianco from right field, where he played in high school, to center field after he signed at around slot. Scouts also like the tenacity that Bianco plays with, which could allow him to play a bit above his tools.

Bianco was assigned to Rookie-level Missoula after signing, and despite a reputation of being relatively polished for a high school bat, he really struggled to make contact. That is in no way career-damning, though - just check out the numbers put up by Matt Davidson in his short-season debut for proof. He likely won't have the range to be an average defender in center field, but he does have a strong arm and comfortably projects as a fourth outfielder. If all breaks well for Bianco and the D-backs, he could become an offensively-oriented center fielder who costs his team a few runs defensively compared to an average center fielder, but makes up for it by hitting for a good deal of power.