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Dbacks 2014 Prospect Preview 11-15

Part 4 of 6 on our Top 30 prospects.

11. Jose Munoz, SS, 20 - The club's second round draft pick in 2012, Munoz has shown flashes of both brilliance and impotence. He wasn't on anyone's Top 100 draft prospects when the Dbacks selected him and there are times when it has been easy to see why. They've been insistent on keeping him at shortstop but 59 errors in his first 99 professional games leaves a lot to be desired.

But he has had spurts when he really looks the part. After a really slow start in his first season he hit .347 over the final month. In his second season for Missoula he put up a 1.096 OPS in July which opened a lot of eyes. But he followed that up with a .560 OPS in August. He has a great build for a baseball player at 6-3, 195 and has some power in his swing being that he is very athletic for his size.

He has the most offensive potential of all our shortstop prospects and may even hit enough to absorb a position switch to third base or second base. South Bend is his likely destination this year and it will be interesting to see if he stays at shortstop and whether he takes another step forward as a more consistent hitter. I'm higher on Munoz than most based on his offensive potential simply because he has the size and athleticism for it. This is a big year for him in his growth.

12. Daniel Palka, 1B, 21 - Palka was taken in the third round of last year's draft and the power-hitting first baseman showed off some of that power in his first professional season. The dude can hit and between Missoula and Hillsboro last year he posted a .908 OPS with 9 homers, 21 doubles and 2 triples in 68 games. At Georgia Tech Palka hit 41 homers over three seasons.

What was more encouraging is he showed some fair plate discipline with 36 walks to 61 strikeouts. Any time a power hitter keeps his K-rate under 20% you have to feel good. Palka is strictly a first baseman so his road to the majors in Arizona is obviously blocked by Goldy. But you can't worry about that just yet. He may be a candidate for skipping over South Bend and going straight to Visalia since he's a college experienced hitter. It's nice to see a power-hitting position player making some noise in our system since it's something that is in short supply.

13. Matt Stites, RHP, 23 - The team acquired Stites in the Ian Kennedy trade and it was quickly thought he was the heir-apparent for the closer's position. Then the team went out and acquired Addison Reed without clearing space other than the departure of Heath Bell. So he is another that is totally blocked right now. But everyone knows how fast a bullpen's complexion can change.

Stites has put up some gaudy stats in the minors to date. In three minor league seasons he has accumulated a miniscule H/9 rate of 5.1 with a very good K-rate of 10.0. His numbers are actually better than Jake Barrett's so some might argue he deserves to be rated ahead of him. This year will be his chance to do that as he will probably be taxed with dealing with the brutal PCL where, as they "should" say, if you can do it there you can do it anywhere. He will definitely be waiting in the wings and could be one of the first calls for help if the major league team needs another electric arm in the pen. Hopefully that will come before the PCL ruins him.

14. Brando Drury, 3B, 21 - Drury is one of the pieces acquired in the Justin Upton trade and nothing much was thought of his inclusion at first. But he went out and showed he can't be dismissed with an outstanding season for South Bend. The concern with Drury has been his hot and cold seasons to date. He's had two really good years and two really bad years since Atlanta drafted him in the 13th round in 2010. The problem is that his good years both came while repeating the level.

He has yet to put up a good season at a new level. So while everyone has him rising up the prospect boards he's going to need a good season this year in the California League to show he's a the real deal. He flashed some power potential last year with 15 home runs with a respectable K-rate of 16.3%. He's also considered a solid defender and has the chance to put some pressure on Jake Lamb as the team's top third base prospect next season.

15. Michael Perez, C, 21 - After a big season for Missoula in 2012 when Perez posted a .900 OPS while showing off some superior defensive skills at catcher, 2013 was a total disaster. The club decided Perez could jump over South Bend and be Visalia's everyday catcher, a move clearly designed to fast-track him into a backup option for Montero. They couldn't have been more wrong as Perez simply could not hit High A pitching when he struck out 78 times in 190 plate appearances, an incredibly bad 41%.

He was eventually sent back to South Bend where he re-gained a little bit of his confidence but the Ks continued to pile up. It's hard to imagine they will send him back to the California League until he shows he can cut his Ks down in South Bend to something more acceptable. It's entirely possible he spends the full season in South Bend and we call 2013 the lost season, that ultimately may have cost him two seasons of development. It's also entirely possible we've gotten a sneak preview of his ceiling. That wouldn't be good.

This is a huge year for Perez or he will be in danger of falling off the prospect map, and with the loss of Trahan at the catcher position the organization will again be devoid of future major league talent at catcher.