Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Josh Boyd
1. Luis Terrero, of
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 183. Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by: Junior Noboa.
Background: Terrero is one of Latin American coordinator Junior Noboas prized finds from the Dominican Republic. His development hasnt been without obstacles, but his tools are reminiscent of Vladimir Guerreros. After getting off to a miserable start at low Class A South Bend last season, he went on the disabled list with a high left ankle sprain. He later found out it was a stress fracture and missed six weeks. Injuries are nothing new, as he missed six weeks with a broken right hamate bone in 2000. Terrero finally got on track and hit .349 between high Class A Lancaster and Double-A El Paso.
Strengths: Scouts love players with Terreros loose and easy actions, and his frame can handle more muscle as he fills out. His wiry strength and above-average bat speed give him power potential to all fields. He has the wheels to steal 30 bases a year if he doesnt bulk up too much. Despite his apparent lack of strike-zone judgment, hes under control and has good balance at the plate. Hes an outstanding center fielder with the range to run down balls in the alleys and a plus arm capable of handling right field. The Diamondbacks say something clicked for Terrero at the end of the year, and his aptitude and work ethic will help him make adjustments.
Weaknesses: Terrero will struggle to get the most out of his five-tool potential until he takes a more disciplined approach. His poor strikeout-walk ratio illustrates how aggressive he is at the plate. Terrero likes to hack at the first close pitch he sees. He has enough strength and bat speed to make up for his long swing, but he has to shorten up with two strikes. He struggles with pitch recognition.
The Future: Noboa was encouraged with Terreros progress in the Dominican League, but he again was shelved after tearing cartilage in his left knee. Hes still on schedule to play in Triple-A Tucson in 2002, and hell provide insurance for Steve Finley. Terrero made up a lot of ground in a short time, but he needs to shake the injury bug and make key adjustments before comparisons to Guerrero become apt. A healthy year in Triple-A could make him Finleys successor in 2003.
2. Mike Gosling, lhp
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Stanford, 2001 (2nd round). Signed by: Steve Kmetko.
Background: After two years as a reliever at Stanford, Gosling overcame a tender elbow at the start of 2001 to excel as a starter, though Miami trounced him 12-1 in the College World Series championship game. The Diamondbacks gambled successfully they could get him in the second round. He signed for $2 millon, the largest bonus outside the first round.
Strengths: Gosling is tough to hit, allowing a stingy .209 average as a collegian, but he didnt throw strikes consistently until ironing out his delivery as a junior. He has above-average velocity for a lefthander at 90-92 mph, and his fastball runs and tails. His array of breaking stuff is already among the best in the system. His curveball has late depth and his slider was sharp in the Arizona Fall League. He has an advanced feel for changing speeds.
Weaknesses: Gosling has a funky arm action, but most scouts say it works for him and adds to his deception. His velocity dipped to the mid-80s at the end of the spring, so he needs to build up his stamina.
The Future: Gosling didnt join the AFL until midway through the six-week schedule, but he worked 29 innings. Hes expected to jump right onto the fast track as a starter in Double-A.
3. Scott Hairston, 2b
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: Central Arizona JC, 2001 (3rd round). Signed by: Steve Kmetko.
Background: Four of Hairstons relatives have played in the majors: grandfather Sam, father Jerry, uncle John and brother Jerry Jr., whos Baltimores second baseman. He won Arizonas junior college triple crown and was Baseball Americas junior college player of the year after hitting .503-18-77 last spring. He recovered from a slow start to compete with teammate Jesus Cota for the Rookie-level Pioneer League triple crown.
Strengths: Hairstons deep baseball bloodlines are evident in his approach to the game. He positions himself well in the field and shows outstanding instincts on the bases. He has a chance to be a productive offensive player because he generates power with excellent bat speed, giving balls extra carry.
Weaknesses: Questions about Hairstons defense kept him from going higher in the draft. His arm is below-average and hes not polished with the glove. He could improve because like his brother he shows athleticism, soft hands and range to both sides..
The Future: Hairston had one of the best debuts in the draft class of 2001. As a result, the Diamondbacks will jump him to high Class A and he could reach Double-A before the end of his first full season.
4. Jack Cust, of
Age: 22. B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HSSomerville, N.J., 1997 (1st round). Signed by: David May.
Background: Cust has established himself as one of the few legitimate cleanup-hitting prospects in the minors. His younger brother Kevin was drafted in the 11th round in 2000 and made his pro debut in 2001, while brother Michael turned down the Cardinals as a 35th-rounder and will attend Seton Hall.
Strengths: Cust is a batting cage rat who wants to hit around the clock. He has uncommon strike-zone judgement and rarely chases bad pitches, especially early in the count. He looks for pitches to drive and has well-above-average power to all fields. His power comes from his compact, muscular frame and a natural lefthanded uppercut stroke.
Weaknesses: Cust has been labeled a DH since he was drafted. He has proven incapable of handling first base or right field, and he has made little progress in left field. He often swings from his heels trying to hit every ball out of sight, leading to his lofty strikeout totals.
The Future: Cust can hope Arizona moves to the American League West, or for a trade to an AL club. He needs the DH role to play everyday. For now, hes slated for another year as a Triple-A outfielder.
5. Lyle Overbay, 1b
Age: 24. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Nevada, 1999 (18th round). Signed by: Brian Guinn.
Background: Overbay won the Big West Conference batting title as a senior at Nevada in 1999, then became the first player ever to drive in 100 runs in a short-season league. He was named the best batting prospect in the Double-A Texas League last year, leading the loop in hitting, doubles and on-base percentage (.423).
Strengths: Overbay is predominantly a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter. Though he hasnt topped 14 homers in a pro season, some scouts say with his pure swing, he has a chance to develop 20-25 longball power. Overbay thinks contact first and gets good extension through the ball, spraying hits to all fields. The ball jumps off his bat, and he has shown the strength to drive the ball into the alleys with authority.
Weaknesses: Drafted as an outfielder, Overbay can be stiff and awkward around first base. He went to Mexico to work on his defense, and while hes no Mark Grace, he did show more fluid actions.
The Future: With Grace locked up for another season and Erubiel Durazo waiting in the wings, Overbay will spend the year feasting on pitching in another hitters league at Triple-A Tucson.
6. Jose Valverde, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by: Junior Noboa.
Background: With injured closers Matt Mantei and Bret Prinz unavailable in the postseason, Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly would have loved to call on Valverdes power arm when Byung-Hyun Kim imploded. To get there, Valverde has to prove his durability. A right shoulder strain limited him in 2000, and shoulder tendinitis cut short his 2001 campaign and precludied a trip to winter ball.
Strengths: Compared to Armando Benitez for his intimidating stature and overpowering repertoire, Valverde generates explosive late sink on his 94-96 mph fastball. He also throws a hard slider and operates from a deceptive maximum-effort delivery.
Weaknesses: Valverde is primarily a two-pitch pitcher, but he needs to develop a third pitch to combat lefthanders, who hit .348 against him last year. Hes an animated pitcher who must curb his energy and emotions. He has yet to show the resiliency expected from a closer.
The Future: Valverde is expected to be fully recovered in time to take Tucsons closer job. Hell be a tempting option should Arizonas bullpen falter again, though he must improve his control and stamina before becoming a dominant closer.
7. Jesus Cota, 1b
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Pima (Ariz.) CC, draft and follow, 2000 (14th round). Signed by: Steve Kmetko.
Background: A 14th-round draft pick in 2000, Cota improved his stock as a sophomore and signed for $60,000 a week before last years draft. The last time the Diamondbacks signed a Mexican first baseman out of Pima Community College, they came away with Erubiel Durazo. Cota reached base safely in 68 of 75 games and won the Pioneer League triple crown.
Strengths: Beyond the obvious parallels that link Cota and Durazo, Cotas size and tools conjure further comparisons. The Diamondbacks project him to have 40-home run potential. He still needs to learn to generate more backspin and loft on the ball, but his quick, compact stroke has power written all over it.
Weaknesses: Cota is limited athletically and already is a big-bodied player who doesnt run well. Hes learning to play first base after spending most of his amateur career in the outfield, and he needs work around the bag.
The Future: First base is a crowded position throughout the organization. Cotas bat will have to carry him, and it can. Hes a polished product at the plate and shouldnt have any trouble adjusting to low Class A Midwest League pitching in his full-season debut.
8. Lino Garcia, of
Age: 17. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001. Signed by: Luke Wrenn.
Background: When Arizona scouts had Garcia at a private workout in Tampa, all they needed to see was him running the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds before they knew they werent letting him leave without a contract. He signed for $65,000. His pro debut was interrupted when he broke a hand sliding into second base.
Strengths: A loose, natural athlete, Garcia has as much upside as anyone in the system. Hes an 8 runner on the 2-to-8 scouting scale. He patrols center field with the ease of perennial Gold Glover Andruw Jones with a solid-average major league arm. Garcia projects to hit for more power because he generates plus bat speed and has leverage that propels the ball off the bat and creates backspin.
Weaknesses: Garcia went straight from extended spring training to the Pioneer League, skipping the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. While he held his own, he was overmatched at times. His main needs right now are to add strength and gain experience.
The Future: Garcia will make a big leap to South Bend, where hell make his full-season debut before his 18th birthday. He has the tools to shoot up the depth chart in a hurry.
9. Jason Bulger, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Valdosta State (Ga.), 2001 (1st round). Signed by: Michael Valarezo.
Background: Bulger pitched little until his senior year at NCAA Division II Valdosta State, when he attracted attention with his fastball. He didnt project as a first-rounder but was considered an easy sign, then went in the first round and held out for the entire summer. He signed for $950,000, the second-lowest bonus in the first round. Brothers Brian and Kevin were selected later in the draft by the Giants.
Strengths: A converted third baseman, Bulger led Valdosta State in hitting, ERA and saves last season. Hes capable of running his heater up to 97 mph, and it sits comfortably in the low 90s. He has an ideal pitchers frame, similar to Kevin Browns with broad shoulders and a loose arm.
Weaknesses: Bulger gives glimpses of a quality breaking ball, but until he hones his delivery it will be inconsistent. He rushes his delivery on his curveball and his arm has trouble catching up with his body.
The Future: He has minimal mileage on his arm, but Bulger also lacks the savvy that comes with experience. His best chance to jump on the fast track will be in the bullpen. Hell debut as a starter in Double-A to build stamina.
10. Brad Cresse, c
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Louisiana State, 2000 (5th round). Signed by: Brian Guinn.
Background: Cresse hit 29 homers as a Louisiana State sophomore but wasnt drafted after a disappointing junior season. He rededicated himself and led NCAA Division I in homers as a senior, capped his career by driving in the championship-winning run in the 2000 College World Series and tore up pro pitching in his debut. Cresses father Mark served as Dodgers bullpen coach, and Marks godfather is Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.
Strengths: Cresse is a strong, durable slugger with tremendous raw power. He has a good idea at the plate and shows the ability to make adjustments. His bloodlines come across in his work ethic. He has plenty of arm strength and instills confidence in his pitching staff.
Weaknesses: At Cresses size, mobility behind the plate will always present a challenge. While he has improved his footwork and overall receiving, he allowed 17 passed balls last year and threw out just 27 percent of basestealers. He gets too pull-conscious at times.
The Future: The Diamondbacks have yet to develop an everyday catcher but think Cresse could be their first. Hes a student of the game and could move quickly through Tucson to Arizona by the end of 2002.
Rest of the Best:
11. Beltran Perez, rhp
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