2013 Arizona Diamondbacks Top Prospects


System Overview: One of the more underrated systems in the game, Arizona’s farm boasts plenty of impact talent throughout. It features both MLB-ready players — Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs — as well as near-ready prospects in David Holmberg, Andrew Chafin, and Matt Davidson, and high-end young talent in Archie Bradley and Stryker Trahan.

It’s a well-balanced system — simply.


#1. Tyler Skaggs, Age: 21, Position: LHP

Part of the package received from the Angels in exchange for Dan Haren a few years back, Skaggs continued to show why he’s one of the better pitching prospects in baseball last season. After dominating the competition in Double (9.17 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9), the young left-hander more than held his own in Reno, a hitter-friendly environment.

In nine starts (52.2 IP) with the Aces, Skaggs struck out 45 (7.7 K/9), walked just 16 (2.7 B/9) and posted a solid 3.72 Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA. He also made six starts for the big league team (6.44 K/9, 3.99 BB/9 and a 5.83 ERA).

Projection: Skaggs’ fastball, which averaged a touch over 89 mph with Arizona, is barely run of the mill, even for a left-hander. But his poise and pitchability compensates for it. While he’s not likely to average a punch an inning in the big leagues, he should miss bats at an above-average rate and combined with his control/command he should develop into a solid #2- or #3-type guy for the better part of a decade.

Ceiling: 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable

 Update: Attached to several rumors around the trade deadline, Skaggs is showing the standard three-pitch mix: upper 80s fastball, low 70s curveball, and 81-ish mph changeup. 


#2. Archie Bradley, Age: 20, Position: RHP

The seventh overall pick in a loaded — LOADED — 2011 draft class, Bradley bypassed both domestic rookie teams and Low-A and headed straight to A-ball, where the results were a bit mixed.

In 27 starts (136 IP) for South Bend, the 6-foot-4 right-hander had 152 punch outs (10.1 K/9) but walked a staggering 84 hitters (5.6 BB/9). He also generated an elite amount of worm-burners as well, at 51.8%.

Projection: Statistically speaking, Bradley has the potential to become a frontline starting pitcher, but he needs to improve on some horrible strike zone management. His solid 3.79 SIERA  (Skill Independent ERA) was mainly due to his power arsenal simply overmatching the competition, not because he knows how to use it. Bradley has a large ceiling, but equally has ways to go.

Ceiling: 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate


#3. Adam Eaton, Age: 24, Position: CF

Small (5-foot-8 and 185 pounds) and plucked late in the 2010 draft out of a school not known for being a stomping ground for baseball talent (Miami University of Ohio), Eaton quickly ascended through the ranks of the minor leagues, establishing himself along the way as one of the better outfield prospects in the game.

After a brief 11-game stint in Double-A, Eaton spent the majority of his time doing damage in the Pacific Coast League, hitting .381/.456/.539 with a whopping 46 doubles, five triples, seven homeruns and 38 stolen bases in 48 attempts (79.2% success rate). His total offensive production, according to Weight Runs Created Plus (wRC+), was a staggering 63% better than the league average, the best mark in the PCL.

He also spent 22 games with the D-backs, hitting .259/.382/.412.

Projection: Not only does Reno’s home field, Aces Ballpark, tend to inflate offensive production, but the PCL is a hitter-friendly league too. But Eaton’s basic toolkit — above-average to elite patience at the plate, good speed, strong contact skills, and enough power to keep pitchers honest — remained close to his career norms. And with the trade of Chris Young, the center field job is basically his to lose. He’s underrated and should develop into a .290/.360/.420-type hitter, capable of 25 doubles, a handful of triples, and 30+ stolen bases.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable



#4. Matt Davidson, Age: 22, Position: 1B/3B

 Incredibly young for Double-A and in a neutral home ballpark, Davidson hit .261/.367/.469 with 28 doubles, a pair of triples, and 23 homeruns, the fourth best total in the Southern League. His total offensive production was 34% better than the league average.

Projection: Davidson, a 2009 first round pick, took another developmental step forward in 2012, combining an above-average eye at the plate (12.0% BB-rate) with 30+ homerun potential and a strong ability to put the ball in play — a very promising trio of skills. He struggled a bit against right-handers (.236/.342/.441), so he’ll need to improve upon that. Defensively, his bat plays better at third but he apparently leaves his glove on the bench during those games.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate



#5. David Holmberg, Age: 21, Position: LHP

After breezing through a repeat of High-A last season (78.1 IP, 9.88 K/9 and 1.61 BB/9), the organization pushed Holmberg to Double-A for the final 15 starts of his 2012 season, making him among the youngest hurlers in the Southern League. And the 6-foot-4 left-hander did not disappoint.

In 95 innings, Holmberg saw a noticeable drop in his K-rate (6.35 K/9), but managed to keep his poise and feel for the strike zone (2.18 BB/9).

Projection: The large decline in strikeouts isn’t even the slightest concern for Holmberg, who’s averaged right around a punch out per inning up to that point. He’s incredibly young, built solidly, and knows how to pitch. And for some reason he’s been overlooked among many pundits. He’s not ace material, but could very easily develop into a good #2 — if the front office doesn’t burn him out before. He was allowed to throw nearly 175 innings as a 20-year-old last season.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average



#6. Andrew Chafin, Age: 23, Position: LHP

The former Kent State alum headed straight to High-A to begin his professional career, where he showed an incredible ability to miss bats (150 Ks in 122.1 IP) but his propensity for allowing the free pass also became apparent (5.1 BB/9).

Projection: Chafin’s high walk rate can largely be attributed to two horrifically awful months; between June and July he walked a whopping 33 in 33.1 innings. Otherwise, he averaged just 3.4 BB/9. Assuming the summer months were just an anomaly — and it very well could be given his final collegiate season (2.32 BB/9) — the young left-hander could move up the prospect charts as much as any other member in the system. For now, he looks like a decent bet to become a #2-, #3-type guy.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate



#7. Stryker Trahan, Age: 19, Position: C

Member of all-time-badass-name-club, Trahan, the 26th overall pick in last June’s draft, mashed during his professional debut, hitting .281/.422/.473 with 11 doubles, three triples, five homeruns and eight stolen bases. His total offensive production was 39% better than the Arizona Summer League average.

Defensively speaking, he nabbed only 24% of would-be base stealers.

Projection: Per the usual, any long term projections for recent draft picks will be withheld until following the 2013 season. However, Trahan, a lefty-swinging catcher, showed a lot of offensive promise: above-average power (.192 ISO), an incredible eye (19% BB-rate), and decent contact skills.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A



#8. Anthony Meo, Age: 23, Position: RHP

A second rounder out of Coastal Carolina University two years ago, Meo showed some promise with Visalia last season, missing a lot of bats (9.8 K/9) but allowing too many free passes (4.9 BB/9). He did generate a good amount of groundballs too, 45.5%.

Projection: Outside of a rough opening month, Meo’s walk rate pretty much hovered around 4.0 free passes every nine innings, a number that’s likely to improve to at least solid-average considering his final performance in college (2.6 BB/9). He could be a decent #3 or #4.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate



#9. Didi Gregorius, Age: 23, Position: SS

Prior to his acquisition, Cincinnati aggressively pushed Gregorius through the minors, reaching Double-A for the first time in 2011 as a 21-year-old and Triple-A last season, despite topping the league average offensive production just once (2012; Double-A).

Between both stops last season, he hit a combined .265/.324/.393, showing little power (.128 ISO), average-ish patience at the plate, and swiped just three bags in nine attempts.

Projection: Really, the lone piece acquired in shipping top prospect Trevor Bauer and serviceable middle relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw to Cleveland, Gregorius’ reputation is built on his glove-work — for which there’s no advanced data to analyze — rather than his bat. The lefty-swinging shortstop stands 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, so his power could see a little bit of spike as he fills out. But his work against fellow southpaws (.229/.280/.368 since 2011) is quite troublesome. Depending how his defense grades out, he could be a league average regular, maybe a tick better.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate



#10. Chris Owings, Age: 21, Position: SS

Owings, who split time between High-A and Double-A, put together the best season of his young career last season, though he was far more successful in the first part of the season.

In 59 games in Visalia, the 2009 first round pick hit .324/.362/.544 with 16 doubles, two triples, and 11 homeruns. According to wRC+, his production was 31% better than the league average. His value in Double-A, however, declined noticeably. In 310 plate appearances, he hit .263/.291/.377.

Projection: Owings has some offensive upside as a shortstop — solid-average power with the potential to become 15 or 20 homeruns down the road and a little bit of speed — but poor walk rates combined with strikeout totals that closely bear watching will ultimately limit him to a league average regular, maybe a tick better depending how his defense grades out.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate


#11. Michael Perez, Age: 20, Position: C

After a brief seven-game stint in the Arizona Summer League in 2011, Perez firmly established his credentials as a solid prospect last season, hitting .293/.358/.542 with 16 doubles, five triples, and 10 homeruns in just 58 Pioneer League games. His total offensive production was 23% better than the league average. He also threw out an impressive 52% of would-be base stealers.

Projection: Perez possesses incredible in-game power — .249 ISO — and a decent eye at the plate, but those come along with an already troubling inability to put the ball in play. He struck out more than 28% of the time last season. If he could get that under control, then he could be something special. Otherwise, he could be headed for Quad-A / backup territory.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A


#12. Alfredo Marte, Age: 24, Position: OF

After making a 17-game appearance in the Southern League in 2011, Marte headed back to Mobile last season, putting together the best year of his professional career. In 113 games (446 PA), the young outfielder hit .294/.363/.523 with 25 doubles, 3 triples, 20 homeruns and half of a dozen stolen bases. His total offensive production was 47% better than the league average.

Projection: Pretty much a below-average bat throughout the five previous seasons, Marte’s power blossomed in 2012 (.229 ISO). He also shows a decent eye at the plate (7.6% BB-rate last year) and has no major platoon splits. The 2013 season will be telling; if he can come close to repeating his production, he has a chance to be a league-average regular. Otherwise, he could be a good backup.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate



#13. Eury De La Rosa, Age: 23, Position: LHP

Slight of frame (5-foot-9 and 167 pounds) but highly productive as a reliever, De La Rosa made 53 appearances for Mobile, throwing 63.1 innings with 68 punch outs (9.7 K/9) and just 17 walks (2.4 BB/9).

Projection: De La Rosa has been in the Arizona farm system for five years now, making just six total starts. But he owns an impressive 9.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 for his career and shows no major platoon split. Meaning: he can be more than just a LOOGY. The big league team already has left-handers Tony Sipp and Matt Reynolds in the bullpen, so De La Rosa will need continue to bide his time.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average to Inevitable



#14. Ender Inciarte, Age: 22, Position: OF

Inciarte began the year back in A-ball, for the third consecutive season, and hit .293/.375/.422 with 16 doubles, five triples, a homerun and 18 stolen bases. The organization promoted him to High-A during the midpoint of the year, and his production was largely consistent (.319/.377/.419).

Projection: Inciarte’s production is largely driven by his above-average speed. And since 2011, his groundball rate is exceptionally high, at 45.0%, so it’s not likely that his below-average power will develop into anything more than what it is now. Along with his speed, Inciarte has some positional versatility and strong walk rates — the ideal combination for a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate



#15. Patrick Schuster, Age: 22, Position: LHP

A former 13th round pick in the 2009 draft, Schuster converted to a fulltime relief role last season with Visalia, throwing 64.1 innings while average 9.4 K/9 and a whopping 4.5 BB/9.

Projection: Schuster saw a dramatic spike in his K-rate last season, up exactly three punch outs per nine innings from the previous season. His control also ballooned, but given the fairly strong showing the previous two years — he walked 75 in 196.2 innings — there’s plenty no reason to not expect a major improvement in 2013. Serviceable middle relief arm.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate



#16. Raul Garcia, Age: 18, Position: 2B

Like Leal, Garcia handled himself well enough as a 17-year-old in the DSL, hitting .277/.357/.450 with 18 doubles, two triples, six homeruns and five stolen bases. His total production was 20% better than the league average.

Projection: Garcia showed a solid base of skills last year: a solid-average eye at the plate, good pop for a middle infielder, and enough speed to swipe double digit bags, though his technique needs work.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A



Photo of Adam Eaton Courtesy of AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez via ArizonaSports.com





After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.