2006 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects

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, 2006.

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1. Stephen Drew, ss
2. Conor Jackson, 1b
3. Carlos Quentin, of
4. Carlos Gonzales, of
5. Dustin Nippert, rhp
6. Miguel Montero, c
7. Garrett Mock, rhp
8. Matt Torra, rhp
9. Micah Owings, rhp
10. Sergio Santos, ss
Best Hitter for Average Conor Jackson
Best Power Hitter Chris Carter
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Conor Jackson
Fastest Baserunner Marland Williams
Best Athlete Jereme Milons
Best Fastball Dustin Nippert
Best Curveball Dustin Nippert
Best Slider Micah Owings
Best Changeup Kellen Raab
Best Control A.J. Shappi
Best Defensive Catcher Orlando Mercado
Best Defensive Infielder Alberto Gonzales
Best Infield Arm Jerry Gil
Best Defensive Outfielder Carlos Quentin
Best Outfield Arm Carlos Gonzales
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1997 Travis Lee, 1b Devil Rays
1998 Travis Lee, 1b Devil Rays
1999 Brad Penny, rhp Dodgers
2000 John Patterson, rhp Nationals
2001 Alex Cintron, ss Diamondbacks
2002 Luis Terrero, of Diamondbacks
2003 Scott Hairston, 2b Diamondbacks
2004 Scott Hairston, 2b Diamondbacks
2005 Carlos Quentin, of Diamondbacks
Team Player, Pos. 2005 Org
1996 Nick Bierbrodt, lhp Out of baseball
1997 Jack Cust, 1b Athletics
1998 Darryl Conyer, of (3rd round) Out of baseball
1999 Corey Myers, ss Diamondbacks
2000 Mike Schultz, rhp (2nd round) Diamondbacks
2001 Jason Bulger, rhp Diamondbacks
2002 Sergio Santos, ss Diamondbacks
2003 Conor Jackson, of Diamondbacks
2004 Stephen Drew, ss Diamondbacks
2005 *Justin Upton, ss Unsigned

Has not signed.

Travis Lee, 1996 $10,000,000
John Patterson, 1996 $6,075,000
Stephen Drew, 2004 $4,000,000
Byung-Hyun Kim, 1999 $2,000,000
Corey Myers, 1999 $2,000,000
Mike Gosling, 2001 $2,000,000

The Diamondbacks improved by 26 victories in 2005, but after the previous season's 51-111 debacle, there was nowhere to go but up.

The team began its offseason housecleaning by dealing Randy Johnson to the Yankees, and then made a splash in the free-agent market by signing righthander Russ Ortiz and third baseman Troy Glaus to big-money contracts that were criticized for both their length and dollar amount.

While Glaus performed to expectations, Ortiz and other veteran pitchers struggled.
The Diamondbacks will move forward with a front office that has experienced significant turnover. Franchise founder Jerry Colangelo left in a dispute over the direction of the club in 2004. Former agent Jeff Moorad was approved as a general partner in February 2005. Joe Garagiola Jr., the only GM in franchise history, resigned to become Major League Baseball's senior vice president of baseball operations in August. Red Sox assistant GM Josh Byrnes came aboard in October to replace Garagiola, and he hired Boston director of baseball operations Peter Woodfork to be his assistant GM.

On the diamond, the Diamondbacks are trying to make a transition from veterans to youth. Two of the top hitting prospects in the system, 2003 first-round picks Carlos Quentin and Conor Jackson, have nothing left to prove in the minors, yet are blocked. Plans are to give Jackson an opportunity to play first base every day in 2006 despite Tony Clark's renaissance, while Quentin may have to wait out the contracts of outfielders Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green.

The Diamondbacks system has taken a major step forward over the last three years under the direction of scouting director Mike Rizzo, as their top four prospects match up with any team's. Leading the way is Stephen Drew, as Arizona took advantage of other teams' fear of the shortstop's signability to scoop him up with the 15th overall pick in 2004. The Diamondbacks didn't sign Drew until a week before the 2005 draft, but he performed well enough in his pro debut and in the Arizona Fall League to earn consideration as the major league shortstop as early as 2006.

With the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, Arizona selected shortstop Justin Upton. In their minds, that gave the Diamondbacks the best player in each of the last two drafts. Upton would rank atop this prospect list if he had signed. Negotiations with Upton and advisor Larry Reynolds hadn't been contentious, but the sides remained $1.5 million ($6.25 million vs. $4.75 million) apart.

In a system loaded with hitters but weak on arms, Rizzo spent eight of his next nine selections following Upton on college pitchers. Supplemental first-rounder Matt Torra and righthander Micah Owings both made this Top 10 list. The progression of this group of arms will be crucial to the Diamondbacks' future, as they look to be more conservative on the free-agent market. If they can outlast or unload some of the bloated contracts that will be an issue over the next three years, Arizona is in a position to contend annually in the weak National League West.


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