Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Will Lingo

Arizona Diamondbacks: Chat

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after 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 April 1, 2009.

Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Did Trevor Harden make your top 30? What's the lowdown on him?

Will Lingo: Hi everybody! Seems like only yesterday that we were chatting about the Orioles, and now here we are nearing the end of all the org prospect rankings. Thanks so much for coming by for this and all our other chats.

Will Lingo: One brief commercial message before we dive in: the Prospect Handbook HAS ARRIVED here at Baseball America World HQ, so we're in the process of sending them out right now. If you order the book directly from us, you get it before everyone else—which has always been the case—but now you also get another bonus: the No. 31 prospect for every organization. So that's 30 extra scouting reports in a handy supplement that you can slip right into the back of your handbook. I hope you have already heard about this and ordered, but if not, it's one more reason to order the book from us today. I'm sure the Diamondbacks' No. 31 prospect will be discussed at some point, so let's get to the questions...

Will Lingo: OK, Trevor Harden. He did make the top 30 and came close to cracking the top 10, and he made as good a first impression as anyone from Arizona's 2008 draft class. He was a closer at New Mexico JC and would have likely had the same role with Miami, but the Diamondbacks were able to sign him away from college. They think he might work out as a starter, so they'll try him in that role this year. He made six starts with Missoula last summer. He usually pitches in the low 90s and can touch 94, and his slider has plus potential. His changeup also looked good last summer, so that's why he'll get a shot at starting. If not he'll go back to the bullpen.

 Q:  Katie from RI asks:
Is Ryne White a top 30 prospect this year?

Will Lingo: He is indeed. Arizona picked up several polished college hitters in last year's draft who could move quickly, and White also is the best defensive first baseman in the organization already. He's athletic enough to play in the outfield if necessary. He's a strong all-around hitter, and the question will be how much power he develops. The best comparison I heard for him (on the optimistic side) is a slightly more powerful Sean Casey.

 Q:  Paul from Denver asks:
How would you rate Bryan Shaw's abilities overall?

Will Lingo: Shaw is still another interesting 08 draftee. He was the closer at Long Beach State last spring, but like Harden, the Diamondbacks will take a long look to see whether he might be able to work as a starter. He's young for a college junior so he'll get plenty of time to sort out his future role. He throws a little bit harder than Harden, and has a slider, splitter and changeup. He didn't have great results last summer after signing and needs to sharpen his command and keep the ball down. He finished last season at low Class A and could go back there to start 09.

 Q:  Craig from Calgary, Alberta asks:
What happened to Wes Roemer this year? .308 opp avg and 25HR. He only gave up 33 walks which is a good sign, but was he trying to be too fine? Does he repeat hiA this year?

Will Lingo: No one in the organization said this, but I get the idea Roemer is stubborn and thinks he can overpower professional hitters, while he doesn't really have the stuff to do that. He piled up a lot of strikeouts in college, but to succeed in pro ball he'll have to be a sinker-slider pitcher who keeps the ball on the ground and works efficiently. He's also learning the difference between strikes and quality strikes, which is a big emphasis in the organization. If he dials his stuff back a bit to get more movement, induces weak contact and piles up innings, he can get to the big leagues. I think he showed enough in high-A last year that he'll be expected to be in the Double-A rotation to start this season.

 Q:  willy from pitt asks:
I know most of the D-Backs' talent has graduated to the majors, but how bad is their farm system right now? Would you rank it in the bottom 5-10 in the game, and who do you actually think has a chance to break out in 2009?

Will Lingo: Their system is a lot thinner because of trades and young players who have blown through the system, but I wouldn't call it bad by any stretch. To me a bad system is one that languishes in the bottom third of our rankings for several years and doesn't produce talent for the big league team. The Diamondbacks will certainly be in our bottom 10 when those rankings come out at the end of the spring, but considering the way they have used their talent I don't think anyone has a problem with the state of the organization. I would think they'll focus on premium bats in this year's draft, a commodity that has become particularly thin in the farm system.

 Q:  Craig from Calgary, Alberta asks:
Did Patrick McAnaney come close to cracking the top 10 after his strong debut? What is his ceiling?

Will Lingo: McAnaney actually squeezed into our bonus supplement as the Diamondbacks' No. 31 prospect. He'll open the season at 23, so he's on the old side for an 08 draft pick, but his performance last summer showed he could move quickly. He finished the season with a 19-inning scoreless streak, including the Midwest League playoffs. His best attribute is that he knows himself really well and how to use his strengths, which are mixing his pitches and moving the ball around. His fastball comes in around 90 mph, so he profiles as a back of the rotation starter at best.

 Q:  Jay from Arizona asks:
Will, with Chris Young in CF, what are the plans for Gerardo Parra? Will he spend all year in AAA-Reno, or does he have a chance to make the MLB squad this year?

Will Lingo: Parra just played half the season at Double-A last year, so he could go back there to start the year—although after his strong performance in Venezuela this winter, it wouldn't be at all surprising if he jumped to Triple-A. I don't think the Diamondbacks want him in the big leagues yet unless he has a chance to play every day, but if injuries create an opening, he is near the top of the list of players who would fill in. Even if it ends up being a September callup, I think it's all but certain he'll get to Arizona at some point in 2009.

 Q:  Meta from Atlanta asks:
Leyson Septimo has now been a pitcher for a year now. How is that project looking? Is he still showing the same electric stuff?

Will Lingo: I think the project is still under way. He wasn't really a natural pitcher before he made the conversion, so he still has a lot to learn about the craft. While the stories of him touching triple digits with his throws from the outfield may be true, he's more in the mid-90s as a pitcher, which is still plenty electric for a lefthander. When the Diamondbacks added him to the 40-man roster this offseason in spite of his modest results last year, I think that told you all you need to know about the project. He has shown enough that he was worth protecting from the Rule 5 draft.

 Q:  craig from visalia asks:
thanks for the chat.. now that stange is health and back from tommy john. where does he land on your list? did he lose any ground?

Will Lingo: No, we're still on the Daniel Stange bandwagon. In fact, with so many players ahead of him graduating or getting traded, he moved up a little from last year's No. 15 ranking. He got back on the mound last June and was touching 93 mph by the end of the summer, so that's a good sign just a year out from TJ. He has touched 99 in the past, so we'll see if his velocity creeps back up into that range this summer. The Diamondbacks have tried to tone down his delivery to prevent future arm problems without costing him life on his pitches. I would expect him to start the season at Double-A.

 Q:  Jeff from Duluth, MN asks:
When will the prospect handbook be mailed out? I pre-ordered a few weeks back. Thanks

Will Lingo: Several questions in the queue just pleading for the Handbook to be mailed out. That really does my heart good. As mentioned above, the Handbook is here now and is getting shipped out, so you should have it soon. And for the full commercial about ordering it directly from us, just check out the beginning of the chat.

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
When he was drafted, the knock on Parker was his height. Now he is listed at 6-1. Does this issue still get brought up?

Will Lingo: It does still get brought up, but I don't think it's considered a knock. I don't even think he's as tall as 6-1, as he is listed in some places. We listed him in the book as 6-0, and he might be shorter than that, but the most important thing is that people say he has been able to pitch downhill in spite of his height. He has earned comparisons to Tim Lincecum for his stature as well as his smooth mechanics and easy velocity, so I don't think it's going to be a long-term concern.

 Q:  Meta from Atlanta asks:
Do you think James Skelton sticks around the whole year? What kind of role will he have with the big league club?

Will Lingo: We'll have to see how the Arizona roster shakes out in spring training, but I think Skelton has a chance because of his on-base ability and versatility. (For those who don't remember every pick of the Rule 5 draft, he's the player the Diamondbacks took from the Tigers in December.) He's an offensive, athletic catcher who could play other positions as well, so they could carry him as a third catcher who could pinch-hit and fill in all over. That's probably his long-term role anyway, so we'll just have to see what the Diamondbacks' bench looks like.

 Q:  alex from venezuela,caracas asks:
rossmel perez how close he was to top ten?

Will Lingo: Thanks for joining us from Caracas! Several quality Venezuelan prospects in the Diamondbacks organization. Perez ended up at No. 15 on the list this year, and he showed a lot of ability in his first summer in the U.S. after two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He's a switch-hitting catcher with good defensive tools, so he's a guy who could take a big jump up the list if he performs well this season. It's encouraging that he already walks more than he strikes out. Power is probably his only real shortcoming. I would expect him to move up to full-season ball in low Class A this season.

 Q:  John Somerville from Houston, TX asks:
What about Josh Whitesell? Is he in the top 20? His minor league stats look pretty good?

Will Lingo: Whitesell's an interesting guy. He did slide into the top 20 after signing with the Diamondbacks as a minor league free agent before the 2008 season. He had huge numbers in Triple-A and then made a strong impression in the big leagues, so I think he'll make the big league team as a powerful lefty bat off the bench this year. He can play at first base and in left field, so he'll be a good reserve even though he probably doesn't profile as an everyday player.

 Q:  Brendan from Boulder, CO asks:
Buckner was somewhat of a surprise in the top 10, is this a reflection of a weak D-backs system? how likely you think it is that he becomes a legit mid-rotation starter? Where did Evan Frey rank in the organization, he seems like a player who knows his tools and knows how to use them, what sort of future do you see for him? Thanks for all the chats, they've been great!

Will Lingo: Buckner's presence in the top 10 does reflect some weakness in their system as well as his advanced ability. He has spent most of the last two seasons in Triple-A or the big leagues, so I think it's a good bet that he'll have a major league role going forward. He'll have to sharpen his complementary pitches for it to be a starting role, however. He has a good arm and his stuff plays up a bit out of the bullpen, so I would expect him to break in that way and maybe get a shot at the rotation later.

Will Lingo: Frey comes in at No. 16. As you mention, he is a player who definitely knows who he is and plays to his strengths, which means hitting the ball on the ground and using his speed to get on base, as well as playing good defense in center field. He really doesn't have a true plus tool, though, so I think the scouting consensus would be that he profiles as a fourth outfielder. If you like him you'd say he showed enough strength with the bat last year that he can be an everyday center fielder.

 Q:  shawn from denver, co asks:
i got a chance to see the dbacks fall league players this year. i really like hester, ambriz, and barnette where do they fit in the dbacks plans..

Will Lingo: Arizona had several guys who boosted their stock both in Arizona and Hawaii last fall. I think we ranked Barnette highest out of that group, a guy who isn't overpowering but has four pitches and can move them around to all four quadrants of the strike zone. His fastball comes in at 88-92 mph. He's prone to leaving the ball up and giving up home runs, and some think he's better suited to the bullpen, but he'll probably start the season in Triple-A and could get a big league shot if a need arises.

 Q:  Joseph from Fort Worth, TX asks:
Thanks for the chat Will. I'm sure I'm not the first person to ask this, but if hehad qualified, would Scherzer have been #1 ahead of Parker?

Will Lingo: You know, I think I would still rank Parker ahead of him because I think he has a better chance to be a front of the rotation starter for a long time. Scherzer has more overpowering pure stuff but I'm still not sure he's going to be a long-term starter.

 Q:  walter from plano, Texas asks:
Big Parra fan...saw him play in Mobile last year. Best case scenario for him on arrival to Dbacks, where would he fit and ceiling...fourth outfielder, regular or all star? Thanks!

Will Lingo: I don't quite see him as an all-star, but I think he's a longtime quality regular in center field. So there's not an obvious fit for him in Arizona right now, but those things have a tendency to work themselves out. As I mentioned earlier, I do think he'll find his way to Arizona at some point this season.

 Q:  Adam from Denver asks:
Cyle Hankerd - prospect or suspect?

Will Lingo: He's a guy who did stay in the top 30 after a good performance in Hawaii. Before that he was a 6-3 outfielder who was hitting like a middle infielder, so the most important thing to come out of Hawaii is that he was driving the ball again. He's a serviceable outfielder, but basically all his value lies in his bat, so he needs to put up good numbers over the course of a summer to truly put himself back on the prospect radar.

 Q:  mark from tampa asks:
How soon before Daniel Schlereth takes over the closer role from Chad Qualls?

Will Lingo: Hard to figure that out exactly—there's so much that could happen before that happens—but it is worth noting that Schlereth could move through the system very quickly if he stays healthy and pitches well. He should open the season in Double-A, and once you're there all it takes is a few hot weeks and an opening to get to the big leagues.

 Q:  John from Fargo asks:
Brooks Brown was a top pick a couple of years ago. He has never done poorly, but he also hasn't ever lit things up. At this point he looks like he is at best a tail end of the rotation type or middle relief. Is that analysis correct? Does Brown have the stuff to fit in the top half of the rotation?

Will Lingo: That is a pretty good analysis. Brown took a 3.63 ERA into the final month last season, but he was pretty bad from there on out and in the AFL. His stuff also hasn't been quite as good as it was in college, so some people think he should just take his sinker-slider combo to the bullpen. But his big frame and durability still suggest he could provide more value as a starter. He'll get another shot in the Triple-A rotation, but I think if he gets to the big leagues it will be as a reliever.

 Q:  Canned VanLandingham from Durham asks:
Uh, hypothetically speaking - how creepy is it when somebody tries to buy the book in person from BA HQ? Just a little, or so much so that it doesn't really matter if the buyer's daycare is just a few blocks away and this way he gets it sooner and doesn't have to pay shipping?

Will Lingo: As long as you don't try to sell us something, not creepy at all. We'll see you soon.

Will Lingo: Not sure there's any better way to end a chat than that. Thanks for all the questions; sorry I couldn't get to them all. Don't forget to order your Handbook today and be on the lookout for our Top 100 Prospects in just a few weeks.