Will The Rakuten Eagles Post Masahiro Tanaka?
With the new pending Japanese posting system putting a $20 million cap on posting fees, the question around baseball is whether the Rakuten Eagles will still post their ace, 25-year-old [...]
Diamondbacks Prospects 2-10
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Stanford, 2001 (2nd round). Signed by: Charles Scott.
Background: Because teams were wary of Goslings agent, Scott Boras, the Diamondbacks gambled that they could get Gosling in the second round of the 2001 draft. They were correct, and signed him for $2 million, the largest bonus outside the first round that year. In his pro debut last year, he won 14 games in Double-A in the hitter-friendly Texas League.
Strengths: Gosling has a great understanding of his craft. He can spot his low-90s fastball on both sides of the plate, and it has a natural tail that makes it tough for hitters to make solid contact. He has command of both a slider and a curveball, and he changes speeds well.
Weaknesses: There have been minor issues with Goslings durablilty, delivery and control in the past, but he answered them in 2002. About all he needs is further refinement with his command and more pro innings.
The Future: Despite his limited experience, Gosling has an outside chance to make the Arizona rotation in 2003. Its more likely that hell begin the season in Triple-A, but he could be the first starter summoned if the Diamondbacks need reinforcements.
3. Lyle Overbay, 1b
Age: 26. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Nevada, 1999 (18th round). Signed by: Brian Guinn.
Background: Though he set Nevada and Big West Conference records, Overbay wasnt drafted until his senior yearand even then in the 18th round because scouts didnt think he profiled well at any position. He has made other teams pay for the oversight, becoming the first short-season player to drive in 100 runs and batting .345 in four pro seasons.
Strengths: Overbay is a line-drive machine, similar to Sean Casey and Mark Grace. He has a sweet, short stroke and uses the entire field. He has produced tons of doubles in the minors, and has the build to develop more over-the-fence power.
Weaknesses: The Grace comparisons dont entirely work because Overbay doesnt draw as many walks and isnt particularly smooth around first base. Scouts who saw him in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League didnt think his approach was conducive to hitting home runs. Now 26, he never has been young for his league.
The Future: Overbays promise was a major reason the Diamondbacks decided to trade Erubiel Durazo in a four-team deal that allowed them to upgrade their rotation with Elmer Dessens. Overbay will start at first base for Arizona and benefit from Graces veteran counsel.
4. John Patterson, rhp
Age: 25. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 183. Drafted: HSOrange, Texas, 1996 (free agent). Signed by: Ray Corbett.
Background: The fifth overall pick in 1996 by the Expos, Patterson became a free agent because Montreal didnt properly tender him a contract. He signed with Arizona for $6.075 million and pitched well until needing Tommy John surgery in May 2000. He improved steadily last season and the Diamondbacks won four of his five big league starts.
Strengths: Patterson has worked diligently to return to his pre-injury form and made a breakthrough in 2002. He regained the shoulder-to-shoetops curveball that had been his best pitch. He can buckle hitters with the bender while buzzing them with a 93 mph fastball that he locates well. He loves to compete.
Weaknesses: Pattersons fastball still hasnt quite returned to its previous 95-96 mph range, though he was consistently in the low 90s last season. Missing much of 2000 and 2001 cost him time to work on the development of his changeup.
The Future: A spot in Arizonas rotation is Pattersons for the taking this spring. Even if his old velocity never returns, he learned to pitch without his best stuff while recovering and is the better for it now.
5. Brandon Webb, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: Kentucky, 2000 (8th round). Signed by: Scott Jaster.
Background: Webb set the Kentucky single-season strikeout record (since broken by Athletics first-rounder Joe Blanton) in 2000. After being shut down with a tired arm in his first pro summer, he has been solid ever since. He ranked fourth in the Texas League in both ERA and strikeouts last year.
Strengths: Webbs fastball tops out at 94-95 mph but is best at 92, where it really sinks. He also has a heavy slider, and his stuff reminds scouts of Bob Wickmans. His two-seam fastball can be so dominant that he could rely on it almost exclusively.
Weaknesses: With 40 hit batters and 23 wild pitches over the last two seasons, Webb still has work to do to master his command. His pitches have such live, late movement that he can be difficult to catch. He just began to incorporate a changeup into his repertoire last year.
The Future: Like his former El Paso teammate Mike Gosling, Webb has an outside chance to make the Diamondbacks roster in 2003. He could be used as either a starter or a long reliever. Whatever the case, he should be a major league mainstay in the near future.
6. Edgar Gonzalez, rhp
Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Signed: Mexico, 2000. Signed by: Mike Rizzo.
Background: Signed at 17 for $3,500, Gonzalez was sent home from the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League because of homesickness. He returned to the Diamondbacks last April and threw a no-hitter in his second low Class A start. He was even better after a promotion to high Class A Lancaster. His roll continued into the offseason, as he led the Mexican Pacific League in wins (eight) and ERA (1.89).
Strengths: Unlike most four-pitch pitchers, Gonzalez can reach the mid-90s with his fastball. He was clocked at 96 mph in the ninth inning of one of his starts at South Bend. His slider is his second-best pitch, and he has a curveball and changeup. Gonzalez has great feel for altering the speed of his pitches. He wants the ball in big situations.
Weaknesses: Gonzalez isnt lacking much beyond experience. If he can improve his command within the strike zone, he has the stuff to dominate hitters. Counting winter ball, he racked up 250 innings in a nine-month period, so Arizona should monitor his workload carefully.
The Future: Gonzalez looks ready to make the jump to Double-A. If he keeps developing this rapidly, he could be in Arizona by September.
7. Sergio Santos, ss
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSSanta Ana, Calif., 2002 (1st round). Signed by: Mark Baca.
Background: Santos may have been the victim of overexposure. He was identified as a top prospect by the time he was a high school sophomore, and scouts expected more than he delivered as a senior. Arizona drafted him 27th overall and used a $1.4 million bonus to sign him away from Southern California.
Strengths: Santos has prodigious power, which he displayed by driving balls to all parts of the park in a private workout at Bank One Ballpark prior to the 2002 draft. He hadnt shown consistent pop in high school. Santos has a compact swing and can make adjustments. His instincts and makeup are solid, and they enhance his average speed and defensive tools. His arm strength is a plus.
Weaknesses: Santos still has to learn to play balls off wood bats, and his 28 errors ranked third in the Pioneer League. Considering his size and that hes still growing, he probably will have to move to second or third base. His swing can get long.
The Future: Santos has enough power for any position and will be a middle-of-the-order hitter in the majors, perhaps as early as 2005. Hell spend this year in Class A.
8. Chad Tracy, 3b
Age: 22. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Drafted: East Carolina, 2001 (7th round). Signed by: Howard McCullough.
Background: The Diamondbacks had inside information on Tracy, because area scout Howard McCulloughs son Clayton played with him at East Carolina. In his first full season, Tracy stayed above .400 in Double-A through early June. He tailed off because of a shoulder injury, but still led the Texas League in batting, hits and doubles and was the leagues player of the year.
Strengths: Tracy is a classic line-drive hitter. He has a short, compact swing and takes the ball where its pitched. He makes contact with ease and can fight off pitches until he gets one to his liking. With his stroke and knowledge, he should add more home run power in time.
Weaknesses: A first baseman in his first two years of college, Tracy remains a work in progress at the hot corner and made 26 errors last season. He puts the bat on the ball so effortlessly that he cuts into his walk totals. He didnt need surgery, but his shoulder problem cost him a chance to play in the Arizona Fall League.
The Future: Tracy will begin 2003 in Triple-A as Matt Williams plays out the end of his five-year contract. Craig Counsell may provide competition, but Tracy could be Arizonas starter in 2004.
9. Brian Bruney, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HSWarrenton, Ore., 2000 (12th round). Signed by: Jason Goligoski.
Background: Bruney signed as a raw talent from a town of 2,200 on the tip of northwest Oregon. Credit the scouting department for finding him and the development staff for refining him into a closer prospect. He dominated in the Arizona Fall League after a strong 2002 season, not allowing a run in 16 appearances.
Strengths: Bruney hit 99 mph with his fastball in his first two years in the organization. He now works in the mid-90s, and the pitch has natural cutting action, making it tougher to hit. His slider has improved, and his most important achievement has been refining a consistent delivery.
Weaknesses: Control has been a problem at times for Bruney, though as he has grown he has learned he doesnt have to throw 99 mph every pitch to be successful. His average of 3.1 walks per nine innings last year was by far the best ratio of his career. He doesnt have much of an offspeed pitch, but he rarely needs one.
The Future: If Matt Mantei cant stay healthy and Byung-Hyun Kim becomes a starter, Bruney could become Arizonas closer soon. He needs at least one more year of minor league apprenticeship first.
10. Luis Terrero, of
Age: 22. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 193. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1997. Signed by: Junior Noboa.
Background: Terrero ranked No. 1 a year ago and has as much all-around upside as anyone in the system. But he has been plagued by injuries throughout his five-year pro career, including hamstring problems, a broken hamate bone and a fractured ankle. Though his 104 games in 2002 were a career high, he still spent nearly a month on the disabled list.
Strengths: A gifted physical specimen, Terrero is long and chiseled. He has power to all fields and runs like a deer. With his long strides he gobbles up ground in the outfield alleys and on the bases. He has a strong arm and has been a major league-ready center fielder since starring in the 2000 Hall of Fame Game.
Weaknesses: Terrero has had trouble staying on the field long enough to develop a consistent approach at the plate. He has trouble recognizing and adjusting to breaking pitches, and he does a poor job of controlling the strike zone. He has the speed to steal 30 bases a year, but his instincts arent there yet.
The Future: Terrero has all the tools to be a major league center fielder for a decade. He has been on the radar screen so long, its easy to forget hes just 22. He should start the season at Triple-A Tucson.
Best of the Rest
The 2002 draft yielded several promising prospects beyond first-rounder Sergio Santos. Backstop Chris Snyder (second round) immediately became the organizations best catch-and-throw guy and also offers power. Lefthander Jared Doyle (third) excelled as both a starter and reliever in his pro debut, showing three pitches that can be above-average at times. Righthander Lance Cormier (fourth) doesnt have that kind of stuff, but he commanded four pitches well enough to set several school records at Alabama.
Third baseman Brian Barden (sixth) made the Class A California Leagues postseason all-star team despite not arriving until June. He hit .335-8-46 in 64 games and showed Gold Glove potential. Righthander Dustin Nippert (15th) pitched his way out of West Virginias rotation during the spring before his fastball jumped to the mid-90s after he signed.
The Diamondbacks also made two key signings outside of the draft last year. They may have found their own version of Francisco Rodriguez in righthander Adrian Rosario, who hit 96 mph on his first pitch during a workout and reached 99 during a stint in the Pioneer League.
Arizona also signed outfielder Marland Williams, a 36th-round draft-and-follow from 2001. Williams, the top athlete in the system, led the short-season Northwest League with 51 stolen bases. He was recruited by Florida and Florida State as a wide receiver.
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The Top 10 Prospects lists are based on players' projected long-term worth and on discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of Opening Day 2003.