2012 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects Chat With Bill Mitchell





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, 2011.

Bill Mitchell: Welcome to the Diamondbacks prospect chat. We've already got a lot of questions in the queue so let's get an early start. If I don't get to your question today, you can check in with me on Twitter at @billazbbphotog.

    Phil (Richmond): How close was Kevin Munson to making the list? Saw him at 95-96 in the AFL All-Star Game with a nasty slider. What does he profile as at the big league level?

Bill Mitchell: Phil - Munson is ranked in the 20-30 range. After a slow start at Visalia in which he had issues with command and control, he finished strongly at Mobile and continued with a strong AFL season. He doesn't profile as a closer but could be a solid late inning reliever.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): How close was Bobby Borchering to the top 10? Is he a good bet to move to 1B in the foreseeable future?

Bill Mitchell: Borchering came in at #11 so he just missed the top ten. After playing both 3B and 1B during the regular season, he was moved to left field during instructional league and that is expected to be his position moving forward. He was never going to cut it at the hot corner and Paul Goldschmidt is now the first baseman of the future. He should be able to handle the outfield if the bat comes around. He has as much raw power as anyone in the system and made some positive adjustments as the season progressed but he's still needs improve his pitch selection. I'm anxious to see how he handles Double-A pitching in 2012.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Your thoughts on Andrew Chafin, Kyle Winkler and Anthony Meo? Who came closest to the top 10?

Bill Mitchell: All three pitchers rank in the top 20, with Meo coming the closest to the top ten. Scouts liked what they saw in Meo during instructs. Chafin's velocity was down from his college days, which is why I ranked Meo just a little higher. Winkler is still rehabbing from the shoulder problem that caused him to drop in the draft. All three will be developed as starters, but it wouldn't be surprising to see them all wind up in the bullpen at the big league level.

    Collin Cowgill (Phoenix): How close did I come to your list?

Bill Mitchell: Same as last year —- Cowgill ranks in the teens. He may never be more than a fourth outfielder at the big league level but he's a guy that every manager wants on his team. He's a grinder who can play all three outfield positions and can run well. He needs to learn to hit breaking balls but should have a decent major league career.

    Billy (Midwest): Curious why you have Parker in the closer's spot in your 2015 lineup card?

Bill Mitchell: Billy, I was anticipating this question. The future lineups are a way to show the depth in the organization, and slotting Parker in as closer was a creative way to work six really good starting pitchers into the chart. I believe he will be a very good starter in the big leagues, although he could also excel in the closer role if needed. But don't put too much stock into Parker being listed as a closer. He'll likely be a key member of their rotation in 2015, and perhaps as early as the beginning of the 2012 season.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Had he not graduated from prospect status already, about where would Goldschmidt have ranked on this list?

Bill Mitchell: Jaypers, I hadn't given that much thought until now. Goldschmidt would certainly have ranked as the best hitting prospect in the organization, so I probably would have placed him #5 behind the big four pitching prospects.

    Thomas (Los Angeles): How many of the top 10 do you think are worthy of BA's top 100?

Bill Mitchell: Thomas, I'm not involved in the Top 100 ranking but I'll bet that Bauer, Bradley, Skaggs and Parker will all rank pretty highly.

    Patrick Tsai (Beijing): How close was Adam Eaton to making the top 10 list? What can you tell us about his defence?

Bill Mitchell: Patrick, Eaton had the biggest jump in the organization, going from #30 last year to the 11-15 range this year. The statement that I often hear about Eaton is that he's a "gamer with tools." He can play all three outfield positions and has above-average range at the corner spots. He's got a plus arm, the second best in the organization behind Cowgill. The kid can hit, too. As he moves through the system, he's shedding the "fourth outfielder" label and could be a starter in the major leagues. I'm a fan.

    dale (boston): first time I have tried a question but always read the chats: Curious about how successful you think J.Parker will be this year and how you feel about Adam Eaton in the future OF for Arizona

Bill Mitchell: Dale, thanks for asking your first question. I just covered Eaton in the previous question (I'll say it one more time —- I'm a fan!). I believe Parker will earn a spot in the rotation and have a good season, albeit he's bound to experience some of the normal rookie growing pains.

    William (Pensacola,FL): Who was a bigger disappointment :Marc Krauss or Keon Broxton ?

Bill Mitchell: William, Krauss and Broxton dropped in the rankings this year but both are still in the top 20. Krauss really grew on me during his 2010 AFL season but he didn't build on it in Double-A. He's a "bat only" guy so he's going to need to hit. We're not going to write him off yet but his stock dropped this year. I still really like Broxton as do a lot of the scouts. He showed some improvement after moving to High-A but the jury is still out as to whether he's going to hit enough to take advantage of his athleticism and defense.

    Carl (Glendale, AZ): What can you tell us about Fidel Pena? I am wondering what his upside is. Thanks!

Bill Mitchell: Carl, Pena is a very interesting prospect. He's not ranked among the top 30 but several scouts I talked to really liked the guy, seeing him as a potential contributor in a utility role. He's rated as the best defensive catcher in the organization but can also play a decent infield and runs the bases well. That's a very unique combination of skills so keep an eye on him.

    Irene (Denver): How do you describe Socrates Brito when you saw him in the Arizona League? Can he hit enough to be a big league regular?

Bill Mitchell: Irene, Brito showed tremendous improvement this year and put himself on the prospect map. AZL observers raved about him, mentioning that he plays the game the right way. He improved his swing during the year but still has room for improvement. He's got wiry strength right now and should develop more power as he fills out. His AZL manager believes that Brito will play in the big leagues someday. I certainly hope so because we need someone in the majors with the first name of Socrates.

    William (Pensacola, FL): How agreesive will the D-backs be with Archie Bradley and when can we expect to see him pitching for AA Mobile ?

Bill Mitchell: Bradley will move quickly. It wouldn't surprise me to see him reach Double-A at some point in the 2013 season. Yes, folks, he's that good.

    Ian (FL): Thanks for the chat Bill! It's a surprise to see Drew and Hill in the projected 2015 lineup. Don't you think Owings and David Nick have what it takes to become starters in the majors?

Bill Mitchell: Ian, Drew and Hill are both young enough to still be productive regulars in 2015 and we don't assume that anyone will leave via free agency when constructing the future lineups. There's a good possibility that Owings will be a starter at one of the two middle infield positions by then, assuming that the bat develops. Nick probably doesn't profile as a major league starter but he's one of those grinders with excellent makeup that you would never want to count out.

    Adam (New York City): Was it purely a matter of fatigue that led the D-Backs to refrain from calling up Bauer in September? Also, do you see him being put on a stricter innings limit this year?

Bill Mitchell: Adam, I believe that after Bauer pitched in the Southern League playoffs it was determined he had pitched enough during the college and minor league season. As for his innings count next season, I can't answer that one. With any other pitcher I'd say that the innings pitched would likely be limited in their first full season. But Bauer is such a unique pitcher that any conventional wisdom about pitch counts and total innings doesn't apply here.

    William (Pensacola, Florida): Can you think of any other organization with the potential to produce four pitchers who project as number one or two starters with Bauer, Parker, Skaggs, and Bradley ?

Bill Mitchell: William, that is certainly an impressive array of pitching prospects that are all pretty close to being big league ready. That would be a good question to ask Jim Callis in the weekly "Ask BA" column but I believe you'll have to wait until after the Prospect Handbook goes to print. Of course, I know that you'll be ordering the Handbook so you'll be able to analyze all 30 organizations when it arrives.

    Jake (Harrisburg, PA): Higher ceiling between Archie Bradley and Dylan Bundy, in your estimation?

Bill Mitchell: Jake, I'm happy to take a question from my home state. It's too early in their careers to determine who has the higher ceiling. Bradley and Bundy both have #1 starter and all-star potential, so at this point you could flip a coin.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Was it a close call between the top four on your list? Are they pretty much interchangable?

Bill Mitchell: Ben, you are correct in that a case could be made for any of the top four to be ranked #1. You could move them around in any order but I'm pretty solid with Bauer and Bradley being at the top of the list. For me, Bauer is #1 and Bradley is #1A.

    Kyle (St Louis MO): In your opinion, who has the higher ceiling between Bauer and Gerrit Cole, and who is more likely to reach it?

Bill Mitchell: Kyle, I saw Cole and Bauer pitch on consecutive nights just before the draft and came away more impressed with Bauer. Cole perhaps has a higher ceiling if he develops more consistency with his command but scouts watching him in the AFL aren't convinced that he won't wind up as a power reliever at some point.

    Travis (TX): Has Keon Broxton fallen out of favor with Arizona? Does he still rank in the team's top 30? Thanks.

Bill Mitchell: Travis, Broxton has NOT fallen out of favor. The Dbacks love his athleticism and believe he made great strides this year. He's not one who's going to rush through the system and will take time to develop. If the pitch selection and plate discipline comes around, he's going to be a very good outfielder. The comparison that I've gotten on his potential is Torii Hunter. He didn't drop that far in the rankings, just into the teens in a year when a lot of new talent was added to the organization.

    Harry (Phoenix): What's the latest word on Wagner Mateo? Is he on your top 30?

Bill Mitchell: Harry, Mateo did not make the top 30. I really went back and forth on what to do with him. In last year's chat I stated that in another year he could move into the top ten or off the list altogether. On one hand, Mateo potentially has game-changing power to all fields. But his swing has a lot of flaws that need to be worked out and the vision problems that caused the Cardinals to void his original contract are still very much an issue. He had trouble with pitch recognition in the AZL and had to move out of the outfield to first base because of problems in picking up fly balls. He had a tough year in his first season in the United States and it would show in his actions on the field. Mateo has the ingredients to be a star but he's a long, long way from fulfilling that potential.

    Henry (South Bend): Bill, Thanks for the chat! Other than Archie Bradley, which other Diamondbacks prospects should we keep an eye out for in South Bend this year?

Bill Mitchell: Henry, some of the advanced college pitchers taken in this year's draft, such as Anthony Meo Andrew Chafin and Kyle Winkler, are possibilities to start the year in South Bend. I answered a question earlier about Fidel Pena —- I could see him getting to the Midwest League next year.

    Pat Murphy (Sandpoint, Idaho): Do you envision Wade Miley moving to the pen in a couple years? Is he not toolsy enough to stick and/or develop consistancy ala Buerle and is his changeup or other pitches swing n miss enough to stick in rotation?

Bill Mitchell: Pat, the Diamondbacks really like Miley and believe he's made steady progress in the last couple of years. His changeup is coming along nicely and may be a plus pitch in time. With that said, his role is probably going to be more of a reliever / spot starter after the more talented arms in the system start showing up in the big league rotation.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): A two part question about the AAA outfielders... Does Cole Gillespie bounce back to top 30 prospect status after his good hitting year? All these guys hit over .300: Cole Gillespie, Willie Mo Pena, and Ryan Langerhans. Yes, Pena and Langerhans are really old guys for this chat. Of the three, who will be the most helpful to the Backs in 2012?

Bill Mitchell: Karl, don't put too much stock in PCL hitting statistics, especially considering the extreme hitters environment in Reno. Gillespie is already 27 —- at this point, he is what he is —- a Triple-A outfielder who will get the occasional call-up to the big leagues. I don't think you'll see Langerhans in a Diamondbacks uniform. Wily Mo Pena is no longer in the organization, having gone to Seattle last summer. If you want to watch Wily Mo hit prodigious homeruns next year, you're going to have to book a flight to Japan as he'll be playing over there in 2012.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Arbelo has shown some big time power but does he have enough plate discipline and can he hit for enough average to get to the bigs? Is there a chance for him still to make it as an everyday player?

Bill Mitchell: Michael, Arbelo hit a lot of homeruns in the Midwest League but scouts don't see him having success at the higher levels of the minors. He struggles against left-handers and has a lot of holes in his swing. He didn't rank in the top 30.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Since unsigned 2010 1st rounder Barret Loux was an effective starter in high A for the Rangers in 2011, was rescinding his bonus a good move in retrospect?

Bill Mitchell: Karl, the Diamondbacks used that extra pick to take Archie Bradley. Nothing against Loux, but being able to instead get Bradley makes it a big win for them.

    Rich Lenzi (Sun City West, Arizona): Evan Marshall. Is there a good chance he is in the Diamondbacks bullpen by mid season 2012?

Bill Mitchell: Rich, the Diamondbacks are high on Evan Marshall. They moved him quickly this year —- I could certainly see their 2011 4th round pick making it to the major league team at some point in 2012. He's wired to be a back end of the bullpen guy, with a lively fastball in the 91-96 range and a power curveball.

    Rich Lenzi (Sun City West, Arizona): What are your thoughts on Meo and Chafin? Are they Major League rotation or bullpen types?

Bill Mitchell: Rich, Meo and Chafin will both be developed as starters but could eventually wind up in the bullpen. One reason could be that there may not be an open rotation spot when they are ready to reach the majors. Also, some scouts believe that Meo will be better as a reliever because of his deceptive delivery that requires a lot of effort. As for Chafin, one quote I got on him was that he has a starter's repertoire but with a reliever's delivery. Chafin could be a mid-rotation starter but also has the pitches to be a power lefty in the bullpen, perhaps even fulfilling the closer's role.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): Where does Charles Brewer project? Had a great year last year, seemed to be a bit banged up this season but rebounded with a strong Arizona Fall League and won the championship game for his club.

Bill Mitchell: Greg, Brewer recovered nicely from his injury (it was not a pitching-related injury) and finished strongly in the Southern League championship series and in the AFL. He's a "pitcher's pitcher" with a nice four-pitch mix. Some scouts don't see a knockout pitch that he can use to get strikeouts when its needed, and that he ultimately may be better suited for the bullpen. He should have a big league role in a year or two, providing good value for a 12th round pick.

    bill (orlando fl): where do you see michael belfiore ?

Bill Mitchell: Mike Belfiore did not have a good season. His stuff was down this year, he struggled to get his fastball out of the 80s and the changeup hasn't developed. His name didn't come up in many conversations this year, so needless to say he dropped out of the top 30.

    James (Toronto, ON): Thanks for the chat. Where does Ryan Wheeler fit into this system? He seems to have a good bat with moderate power and was voted best defensive 3B in the league by the managers.

Bill Mitchell: James, Ryan Wheeler had a good year with the bat at Double-A. Scouts aren't sold on his defense at third base and it's questionable whether he can play there regularly in the big leagues. Most observers see him as a future utility guy who can be a useful bat off the bench and fill in at third, first and left field.

    wily mo (wily motown): bryan shaw exhausted his eligibility via service time, i think? at any rate, i don't think he gets talked about enough. kind of snuck up out of the minors without anybody noticing. was good in the regular season, better in the playoffs. got that cutter. so therefore he's the next mariano rivera, hall of fame, first ballot, i suspect. tell me that, please

Bill Mitchell: Wily Mo from Wily Motown (you get the award for the most unique chat name of the day!) - You are correct that Shaw did not qualify for the list this year because of his big league time. He really had a nice year in the Dbacks bullpen, justifying the inclusion on last year's top 30 list. But the next Mariano Rivera? That's being a little too optimistic. But keep dreamin', Wily Mo, keep dreamin'.

    Grant (NYC): Bill, doesn't it seem strange to you that someone with Holmberg's repertoire be assigned to a league known as a hitter's paradise? I mean, he has an average fastball and an average curveball - so, will his command really be able to fool the majority of hitters at this level?

Bill Mitchell: Grant, Holmberg, like all young pitchers, will need to spend time and learn to pitch in hitters paradises like the Cal League. He'll also get to pass through the PCL in a couple of years. But with his pitching acumen, he should be able to handle the challenge. It gets a lot tougher in the big leagues so skipping the difficult leagues in the minors doesn't help the pitcher's development.

    Rob (Alaska): I realize there's not a huge distinction between being #2 and #3 on this list, but if both Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs have frontline potential, how do you not give the nod to the guy who's already done it in AA?

Bill Mitchell: Rob, I see your point but Bradley has the potential to be a very special pitcher. I could have easily made a case to rank him number one on the list. He'll very likely spend a couple of years as the top prospect in the organization before making it to the show.

    Webb (Lumberton, Tx): Can you expand on Bauer's approach to pitching and training. Whats Pitch tunnerling, effective velo and how he uses bio mechanics into his pitching?

Bill Mitchell: Webb, I don't have the space or time to go into great detail on Bauer's fascinating approach. I couldn't even do it justice in the 500 or so words available to me for his prospect report. There have been many articles written about him in the last six months, so search his name on the internet and you'll find a wealth of reading material. You'll come through it feeling much smarter.

    Patrick Guttin (Montreal): Who in MLB is best comparable to Pollack's ceiling? Will the stolen bases not play as he ages and is there any chance of more power or consistant .300 hitting?

Bill Mitchell: Patrick, I will have to think more about a good comp for Pollack. When he was drafted, he was often compared to David DeJesus which may still be valid. He could slow down as he gets older but right now he's using his baserunning smarts more than his speed to gain an advantage on the basepaths. He could develop more power as he matures; I don't see him as a big power guy but more of a line drive, high average kind of hitter. Scouts are still mixed on Pollack's future, but the scouts that like him REALLY like him.

Bill Mitchell: That's all the time I have today. I appreciate all of the great questions —- it's an exciting time to be following the Diamondbacks system. I'm sorry that I couldn't get to all of the questions. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter —- @billazbbphotog. Thanks again.