|Original Published Date: Dec. 16, 2012|
I was putting together the Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 list when Kevin Towers interrupted my flow by essentially trading Trevor Bauer for Didi Gregorius. While I was never a huge fan of Bauer, Towers must have really wanted Gregorius because it would appear that Bauer for Gregorius plus Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson was an overpay.
I have included the profile for Bauer and he would have ranked number three on my list. The Top Dog goes to Archie Bradley, a premium athlete with an electric arm that is simply lacking experience. For me, he still has an ace ceiling; and that is rare to find in the minor leagues. Lefty Tyler Skaggs follows Bradley and looks to have solidified a spot in the 2013 Diamondbacks starting five. While his arsenal is not quite that of Bradley, it’s still very good and when combined with his command, he has a ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter.
With Bauer no longer in the system, the talent drops off considerably with Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson ranking number three and four respectfully. I do like Eaton and believe he has a chance to be a solid regular center fielder. Davidson, is a “Paul Goldschmidt” type player with a long swing, plus power, and ugly splits.
Andrew Chafin and David Holmberg are two young lefty hurlers that are at the polar ends of the scouting axis. Chafin has the higher ceiling but greater risk while Holmberg has the higher floor. Both have big league potential in my opinion.
Finally, there is the new kid in town – Didi Gregorius. I like Gregorius as a defensive first shortstop but believe he will struggle to contribute offensively. The swing is nice but there is very little pop in the bat and the speed is just average.
|2013 Age: 20||BP: Oklahoma|
|Ht: 6-4 Weight:225||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
Archie Bradley has everything I like in a pitcher – an athletic body, an electric arm, and sound pitching mechanics. Yes his 2012 stat line was just ok, but Bradley has a chance to be a monster.
The Diamondbacks paid Bradley an over slot $5 million dollar signing bonus as the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft. Part of the reason for the high bonus was the fear that Bradley would opt to play quarterback at the University of Oklahoma. As with many multi-sport high school athletes, Bradley did not focus exclusively on baseball and arrived in Arizona as a raw talent capable of throwing in the upper 90’s with inconsistent secondary pitches.
In 2012, Bradley began to harness the arsenal. His fastball sits 92-94 MPH with a lot of natural sink that generates a ton of ground balls (2.59 G/F). He pairs that with a beautiful 12-6 curveball that is truly a swing and miss pitch to both right and left handed batters. He also throws a fringy changeup that needs work. Overall though, the arsenal is solid with two plus pitches.
While Bradley’s pitching mechanics are in general very good, his control is poor. In reviewing the delivery, it’s clean and easy with great posture. His landing is inconsistent though due in part to a very high and deliberate leg kick. While in general I like old-school high leg kicks as it leads to great momentum to the plate, it does take a while to perfect and add consistency to the release. With Bradley’s great athleticism, I expect the Diamondbacks will not tweak his delivery drastically and through repetition the control will improve.
Fantasy Impact: I thought Bradley would be one of the teenagers to explode from the 2011 draft but he didn’t. In my opinion, this creates a huge buying opportunity for those in a Dynasty League as Bradley still has the arsenal and athleticism to eventually become an ace. Bradley is still a Top 20 prospect for me and I’m drafting him as such in all Dynasty Leagues.
|2013 Age: 21||BP: California|
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 195||Bats:Left Throws:Left||ETA: 2012|
Tyler Skaggs was the infamous “Player to be named later” in the 2010 Dan Haren trade between the Diamondbacks and Angles that also saw the D’Backs acquire Patrick Corbin. However, Skaggs was the key to the deal and has moved quickly through the minors with a combination of two plus pitches with great control and polish.
Skaggs throws an 89-92 MPH fourseam fastball that averaged 90.22 MPH in his 29.1 innings in Arizona. While it has good movement and he can locate it well, he does pitch up in the zone and is therefore susceptible to the long ball. He gave up 12 home runs in 122.1 innings in the minors but six more in 29.1 innings in Arizona. He does throw a hard sinker that I think has a chance to be a nice above average complementary pitch, but currently it’s more a “show me” pitch.
His money pitch is a plus-plus 12-6 curve with excellent velocity separation with his fastball (73.86 average MPH). I was surprised he was only able threw it for strikes 60% of the time according PitchFx data with a poor 9.26 WHIFF rate. The pitch is much better than that and I expect better results next year. His changeup is another above average pitch and he’s able to keep armside batters off balance with the pitch.
When I first saw Skaggs pitch in 2010, his pitching mechanics were terrible. His posture was poor with a lot of back leg collapse and his landing was all over the place. His delivery was almost frantic. I then had a chance to see him again in 2012 during Spring Training and things were much improved. His delivery had slowed considerably, he was more upright and the balance was better. I wouldn’t call it great mechanics, but they are acceptable and why he’s starting to have more success commanding his arsenal.
Fantasy Impact: There’s a lot to like with Tyler Skaggs but he’ll enter 2013 as a 21-year-old and for me, he could use some more grooming. The mechanics still need tweaking and his changeup and sinker need work. I think I’ll pass on him for 2013 Fantasy Leagues but for a Dynasty League, I’m definitely bullish.
|2013 Age: 22||BP: California|
|Ht: 6-1 Weight: 185||Bats:Right Throws:Right||ETA: 2012|
I’m totally confused about Trevor Bauer. His pitching mechanics are unorthodox to say the least and his ability to take direction has come into question. Yet, his arsenal is broad and deep with the ability to throw up to six pitches, even a screwball. So I say again, I’m totally confused about Trevor Bauer.
Taken as the third player in the deep 2011 draft, Bauer won the Golden Spikes award as the top amateur talent in the country. His arsenal is impressive with a fourseam fastball that averaged 93.17 MPH in his 16.1 innings in Arizona, two breaking pitches, including a hard curve that has nice vertical movement and a changeup that while lacking velocity separation with his fourseamer, makes up for it with nice movement. The arsenal led to an impressive 10.71 K/9 rate across three levels in 2012. However, Bauer could not control his pitches and wound up walking 4.56 batters per nine.
I believe there were two basic problems that led to the control problem.
- An inability or unwillingness to throw his pitches for strikes and instead rely on hitters to chase those pitches. While this worked in college and even in the lower level minor leagues, major league hitters will not consistently chase pitches outside of the strike zone.
- Unorthodox pitching mechanics that lead to an enormous stride to the plate resulting in poor balance and an inconsistent release point.
Like a knuckle baller, there just are no comps to his delivery. While the delivery reminds me of Tim Lincecum’s, it’s even a longer stride with more back leg collapse. Additionally, Lincecum had great control early in his career that resulted from great athleticism that I believe is missing with Bauer. In my opinion, I don’t believe that Bauer’s mechanics will work long-term and therefore, I’m worried. However, the arsenal is so elite that he might be able to be successful at the highest level; but for me, it’s more a low number two/high number three starter as opposed to an ace.
Fantasy Impact: Bauer should generate great strikeout totals but his delivery suggests poor control and being susceptible to the long ball. This profile should hurt his ratios and make it difficult for high win totals. For me, I think I’m going to make Bauer another owner’s problem in a Dynasty League. While I could be totally wrong, there are just too many young pitchers that I’d rather own.
|2013 Age: 24||BP: Ohio|
|Ht:5-8 Weight: 185||Bats: Left Throws:Left||ETA: 2012|
Not many players had a 2012 minor league season that rivaled Adam Eaton. He batted .375 with a .438 OBP while stealing 44 bases. The performance earned Eaton a promotion to the major leagues where he continued to play well with a 15K/14BB strikeout-to-walk-ratio in 85 at-bats.
Eaton has a fundamentally solid compact swing. He has very good bat control and is able to battle pitchers into favorable hitting counts. However, there is little leverage in the swing and Eaton does not use his lower body very well. The profile should equate to an excellent batting average with a great on base percentage but few home runs. With plus-plus speed, he could steal 40 plus bases per year.
Based on the off season moves made by the Diamondbacks, Adam Eaton will be batting leadoff and manning centerfielder in 2013.
Fantasy Impact: I’m definitely drafting Eaton in a fantasy league in the 15-16 round range in a typical 15-team mixed league. While that might be a round or two early, I’m pretty bullish on the skillset and believe he’ll be a nice source of speed with a decent batting average.
|2013 Age: 24||BP: California|
|Ht:6-2 Weight:225||Bats: Right Throws:Right||ETA: 2013|
Matt Davidson reminds be a lot of another Diamondback young power hitting corner infielder; Paul Goldschmidt.
Drafted in the supplemental round in the year of Trout (2009), Davidson’s calling card has always been plus raw power with a lot of swing and miss. The swing and miss comes from a long leveraged swing that is susceptible to pitches down and away. In fact, his splits are alarming with a .339 batting average against left-handed pitchers and a .233 batting average against right handers. However, when he connects, he can hit the ball a long way as was evident by his 23 home runs.
Davidson does know the strike zone which led to a 14% walk rate in 2012. This patience should ultimately help his batting average as pitchers will be force to throw him strikes which will enable him to tap into his power. While his batting average is likely to hover around .240, he has a chance to hit 25 plus home runs at the highest level.
Fantasy Impact: While Davidson is a Top 100 prospect for me, he’s definitely in the back half. His profile is a middle of the order (think 6th) power bat with downside risk in your batting average category. I’m definitely drafting Davidson in a Dynasty League towards the back half of my draft.
|2013 Age: 22||BP: Ohio|
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 205||Bats:Right Throws:Left||ETA: 2014|
Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft out of Kent State, Andrew Chafin has a very nice arsenal that consist of a 90-92 MPH two seamer with a lot of natural sink that generate a ton of ground balls (3.13 G/F). His best pitch is a nasty slider that one report I received rated it as a plus-plus pitch. His changeup is also very good and the lack of a significant split supports the scouting report.
Chafin’s pitching mechanics are interesting. His posture is good but he also bends his back leg noticeably in this setup. This reduces his downward plane but given his great ground ball rate, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. His delivery though is far from clean. He slings the ball to the home plate with a definitive pause in his delivery; almost herky-jerky. This type of delivery does put a lot of pressure on your pitching shoulder and elbow and could have been a contributing factor to Chafin having Tommy John surgery in 2010. Ultimately the delivery might cause Chafin to be moved to the bullpen but for now the Diamondbacks will continue starting him.
Fantasy Impact: If I’m in a deep Dynasty League (15 plus minor leaguers), I would consider drafting Chafin. While his pitching mechanics are problematic, his arsenal is solid, even elite. With some modifications to his delivery, he might not only reduce his injury risk but also improve his walk rate.
|2013 Age: 21||BP: Florida|
|Ht: 6-4 Weight: 220||Bats:Right Throws:Left||ETA: 2014|
In comparing David Holmberg to Andrew Chafin, it’s the classic argument of high floor vs. high ceiling. Chafin has a great arsenal but poor mechanics that is leading to injury risk and control problems while Holmberg is more a command and control pitcher with an average arsenal. Holmberg’s profile should get him to the major leagues but probably as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Holmberg’s arsenal consists of an 89-91 MPH fourseam fastball that he is able to locate to both sides of the plate. While he pitches with a nice downward plane, his fastball does not have a lot of sink and therefore, he’ll always been prone to the home run. His changeup is excellent and generates a lot of swings and misses. When I saw him pitch, his slider was not very good and wasn’t fooling many batters. However, I did receive several reports that contradicted my scouting report and put his slider at above average.
His pitching mechanics are solid with a nice easy delivery with good posture and balance on his landing. However, there is not a lot of arm speed and why his fastball is only average.
Fantasy Impact: I would draft Holmberg in a deep Dynasty League (15 plus minor leaguers) as I do believe he has a chance to make the majors in 2014. However, I see his ceiling as a back-of-the-rotation starter with minimal fantasy impact.
|2013 Age: 23||BP:Netherlands|
|Ht:6-1 Weight:185||Bats: Left Throws:Right||ETA: 2013|
While Didi Gregorius will not be an all-star, he should carve out a nice career as a second division shortstop or utility player.
Signed in 2007 out of Curacao for a modest $25,000, Didi Gregorius was signed primarily for his defensive ability. While he has great range and a rifle arm, he makes a lot of errors (18 in 2012 and 21 in 2013). The quickness he has shown in the field, does not translate to the base path speed as he stole 11 bases with 10 caught stealing in 2011 and six with three caught stealing in 2012.
What Gregorius does well is make contact and get on base. In 2012, he had an 84% contact rate and an 11% walk rate. While his batting average was only .266, his BABIP of .278 indicates that there is some upside in his average. There’s also very little power in his bat.
Fantasy Impact: The fantasy contribution from Gregorius will be limited to a handful of home runs and stolen bases with a .280 average and runs scored as he profiles as a number two hitter.
I had a chance to see Stryker Trahan play in a couple of games this fall during Instructs and left feeling very good about what I saw. I had heard that his swing was pretty mechanical, but I saw excellent bat speed and a nice balanced approach. There was a little too much movement in the lower half but I’m assuming that will be worked on by the Diamondbakcs. The body is not great as he looks like a catcher but he has some speed and even stole eight bases in 2012. Additionally, he had an interesting 48K/40BB in a 167 at bats. If he can keep that plate patience as he moves through the minor league system in combination with the swing I saw, Arizona might have found something.
Drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2009 draft, Chris Owings primarily brings elite defensive capability at a premium position. When I saw him in the AFL this fall, I thought the bat speed was pretty good and that supports the 17 home runs he hit between High-A and Double-A in 2012. While the swing looked ok, he was very aggressive in his approach and was really reaching for pitches that were out of the strike zone. While I can see Owings making it to the highest level, I see his ceiling as a second division starter or utility player.
I received a lot of great reports about Michael Perez, so much so that many prefer him to Stryker Trahan. He was lauded for his defensive abilities throwing out over 50% of would-be base stealers in 2012. While he had a 68% contact rate in the Pioneer league, the swing is actually pretty good. It’s leveraged but he definitely has plus bat speed and was able to hit 10 home runs in only 225 at-bats.
Anthony Meo has a nice arsenal that starts with a 91-93 MPH twoseam fastball that generates a lot of ground balls (1.96 G/F). I also liked his slider as it had a nice two plane break although he did not always throw it for strikes. The changeup was also above average and that was supported by a lack of negative splits. Mechanically, his delivery is not easy as it’s pretty violent and all-out. However, he does hide the ball well which creates deception. I’m not sure whether Meo is ultimately a starter or reliever but I do believe he will make it to the show.