Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects

1. Justin Upton, of
2. Chris Young, of
3. Carlos Gonzalez, of
4. Alberto Callaspo, 2b
5. Miguel Montero, c
6. Micah Owings, rhp
7. Mark Reynolds, if
8. Dustin Nippert, rhp
9. Tony Pena, rhp
10. Brett Anderson, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Justin Upton
Best Power Hitter Mark Reynolds
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Alberto Callaspo
Fastest Baserunner Emilio Bonafacio
Best Athlete Justin Upton
Best Fastball Tony Pena
Best Curveball Dustin Nippert
Best Slider Tony Pena
Best Changeup Greg Smith
Best Control Brett Anderson
Best Defensive Catcher Miguel Montero
Best Defensive Infielder Emilio Bonafacio
Best Infield Arm Pedro Ciriaco
Best Defensive Outfielder Chris Young
Best Outfield Arm Carlos Gonzalez
Catcher Miguel Montero
First Base Conor Jackson
Second Base Alberto Callaspo
Third Base Chad Tracy
Shortstop Stephen Drew
Left Field Carlos Quentin
Center Field Chris Young
Right Field Justin Upton
No. 1 Starter Brandon Webb
No. 2 Starter Micah Owings
No. 3 Starter Dustin Nippert
No. 4 Starter Doug Davis
No. 5 Starter Brett Anderson
Closer Tony Pena
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Travis Lee Devil Rays
1998 Travis Lee Devil Rays
1999 Brad Penny, rhp Dodgers
2000 John Patterson, rhp Nationals
2001 Alex Cintron, ss White Sox
2002 Luis Terrero, of Orioles
2003 Scott Hairston, 2b Diamondbacks
2004 Scott Hairston, 2b Diamondbacks
2005 Carlos Quentin, of Diamondbacks
2006 Stephen Drew, ss Diamondbacks
Year Player, Position 2006
1997 Jack Cust, 1b Padres
1998 Darryl Conyer, of (3rd round) Out of baseball
1999 Corey Myers, ss Angels
2000 Mike Schultz, rhp (2nd round) Diamondbacks
2001 Jason Bulger, rhp Angels
2002 Sergio Santos, ss Blue Jays
2003 Conor Jackson, of Diamondbacks
2004 Stephen Drew, ss Diamondbacks
2005 Justin Upton, ss Diamondbacks
2006 *Max Scherzer, rhp None
* Has not signed
Travis Lee, 1996 $10,000,000
Justin Upton, 2005 $6,100,000
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
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Arizona Diamondbacks

You’d be hard-pressed to find an organization more excited following the completion of a season when it finished tied for last place. But that’s the vibe coming from the Diamondbacks.

In part, that’s because of what happened in Arizona last season. The team actually was on the fringes of playoff contention until Labor Day, and it finished in the top half of the National League in scoring, pitching and fielding. Brandon Webb solidified his status as a legitimate ace by winning the NL Cy Young Award, and the Diamondbacks solidified their commitment to him and Chad Tracy as franchise cornerstones by signing them to long-term extensions. The club also gave manager Bob Melvin a two-year extension.

Arizona also worked in the first wave of its touted prospects into the big leagues. Conor Jackson took hold of the first-base job by putting up a .368 on-base percentage and 15 homers as a rookie. Stephen Drew seized the shortstop position with an .874 on-base plus slugging percentage in his first half-season in the big leagues. Outfielder Carlos Quentin had his moments and an .872 OPS in his first half-season, and Enrique Gonzalez and Tony Pena showed they’re ready to contribute to the pitching staff.

And there’s even more excitement about the talent that’s still on the way. Drew, Jackson and Quentin ranked as the top three prospects on this list a year ago, but the system remains loaded despite their graduations to the majors.

Outfielder Justin Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, takes over as the top prospect after signing before the 2006 season began. His pro debut had its ups and downs, but his talent is undeniable. The Diamondbacks also have been successful adding talent via trades, with outfielder Chris Young and do-everything infielder Alberto Callaspo the most notable examples. And their successful Latin American program has produced outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and catcher Miguel Montero, who will be ready for the big leagues soon, and a younger generation of prospects coming up behind them.

The organization also had the depth of talent to bring Randy Johnson back from the Yankees in the offseason. Arizona did give up three talented prospects in shortstop Alberto Gonzalez and righthanders Ross Ohlendorf and Steven Jackson (as well as big league righthander Luis Vizcaino), but it didn’t give up any potential cornerstones and has plenty of depth to compensate.

One of biggest keys to the steady flow of talent has been the successful drafts of former scouting director Mike Rizzo, who left to take a job as assistant general manager with the Nationals after another promising draft. The most promising member of Arizona’s Class of ’06, Missouri righthander Max Scherzer, isn’t even on this prospect list because he has yet to sign. The Diamondbacks are expected to land him before spring training, and also found plenty of good arms behind him, led by Brooks Brown (supplemental first round) and Brett Anderson (second).

With its influx of talent, Arizona has had to say goodbye to a lot of veterans, including franchise icon Luis Gonzalez after the 2006 season. But while the Diamondbacks fondly remember a past that included the 2001 World Series title, they’re firmly focused on the future. The deferred salaries that weighed down the club’s finances finally are coming off the books, and it’s no accident the team unveiled a new logo and color scheme for the 2007 season.

The transformation of the Diamondbacks is well under way, and the outlook is bright.