Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Forman

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.

Matt Forman: Hey everyone, sorry for the delay getting started. Welcome to the chat ��I'm taking a break from the Winter Meetings to answer your questions about the Diamondbacks. I'll get to as many questions as possible. Fire away...

    JAYPERS (IL): With Schlereth now gone, which prospect whom you had ranked at # 11 now moves into the 10th position?

Matt Forman: Daniel Schlereth ranked fifth on the list, right behind Brandon Allen before getting traded yesterday in the three-team deal involving the Yankees and Tigers. Schlereth was slotted in as having the organization's best curveball and the closer of the future. Matt Davidson was previously the 11th-ranked prospect who backed his way into the top 10. Looking through some other inquiries, it looks like people want to know about Davidson a little more... Davidson was challenged at Yakima�a hitter's graveyard�in his professional debut, thanks to an influx of third basemen in the 2009 draft. There's no doubting Davidson's power, and some front office officials compared Davidson to Paul Konerko. At this point, Davidson has a glitch in his swing and it can get a bit long at times. He has improved quite a bit defensively, but will need to prove that he can stay at the hot corner.

    Josh (Phoenix): With Schlereth all but gone, who becomes the closer of the future for Arizona?

Matt Forman: It depends on who you're asking. In five years, Chad Qualls will only be 35 years old and he's serviceable. The best option in the farm system? I'd go with Leyson Septimo, who is a position change guy. Septimo sits anywhere from 93-97 mph with his fastball, spiking triple digits. He has a loose, snappy arm. His repertoire and body type remind some scouts of Demaso Marte. The problem will be harnessing his aggressiveness a little bit... He struck out 69 batters in 56.2 innings last year, but also walked 44.

    JAYPERS (IL): What are your thoughts on Jordan Norberto, and was he on your top 30 list?

Matt Forman: Norberto is an interesting guy, sitting 92 mph with late sink on his fastball. He's got a fringe-average upper-70s curveball and has eliminated the changeup since being moved to the bullpen. Norberto needs to work on controlling the zone a little bit more to become more of a pitcher than a thrower. Some scouts have compared him to J.C. Romero. He does fit into the top 30, but you'll have to wait to find out where exactly.

    Chris (Chicago): Was Collmenter close to making the top 10? What does he throw besides the best change in the system, and what is his ceiling?

Matt Forman: Collmenter wasn't in consideration for the top 10, but he does fall in the top 30. He's an older guy who doesn't get it done the traditional way. What he throws other than a changeup? Just about everything. Collmenter has been known to experiment on the mound, throwing an eephus pitch and a knuckleball in the past. He can also throw a slurve-type offspeed pitch. He doesn't have the pure stuff to 'wow' anyone, but he gets the job done as evidenced by his strikeout numbers in the California League. He creates deception by an extremely over-the-top pitching machine-like arm sling. Collmenter has turned himself into a prospect, and he will have to continue proving himself, though he profiles as a back-end starter or specialist reliever.

    Derrick (MD): What is Brandon Allen's offensive upside? Could he be a .280 30 HR guy in his prime?

Matt Forman: If you're asking me, I'd say a .280 and 30 home run season would be a career year for Brandon Allen. Some scouts have said they think he can get it done and be a solid average everyday first baseman. Other scouts think he's not as good as his numbers suggest and struggled with inside pitches because his swing is long. He's a hard working guy and has made improvements every year, so that's a positive. But one scout said the best case scenario is that Allen turns into a Mike Jacobs type of player... More like a .250 hitter with 20-25 home runs if he plays every day.

    David (Tempe, AZ): I've read that the general consensus is that the Diamondbacks made good picks in the last draft in terms of value, but I wonder why they didn't pick up more arms in the early rounds. Any idea what their thinking was?

Matt Forman: Talking with people in Arizona's front office, they were pleased with the value of their picks given where they selected... Most notably getting Belfiore, Helm, Schuster and Greer where they did. My guess is the Diamondbacks put more of an emphasis on arms in the past few drafts, so felt like they needed to take stock up on position players.

    Kenny (Peoria, AZ): Whats the report on Matt Helm?

Matt Forman: Matt Helm is a guy that not too many teams got to see during his junior and senior seasons, suffering knee and ankle injuries over the last two years. But Helm played in the Diamondbacks back yard, so they had a chance to follow him throughout the summer showcase circuit more closely than other teams might have. What was unfortunate for Helm turned out to be fortunate for Arizona � it got a player with now power and hitability. He'll have to find a defensive home, but the bat will play.

    Travis (Jenks, OK): Is Scottie Allen in the top 30?

Matt Forman: In 17.2 minor league innings, Scott Allen struck out 16 batters while allowing just nine hits. He wasn't really on the radar screen until later on the draft process. He's young, even for a 2009 draftee as he just turned 18 in July. He sat 88-91 mph with his fastball in high school, but put on 20 pounds during the summer and bumped his velocity into the low-90s. He's got a classic downer curveball and changeup to round out the three-pitch mix. Allen fit into the No. 25-35 range, which is yet to be finalized because of roster shuffling with trades and the Rule 5 Draft.

    Jed S (NY): The obvious, probably most asked question in this chat: where does Austin Jackson now fall in this list? 2nd behind Parker? In addition, where do A Jax figure to fit on this team with an OF of Byrnes, Parra, Chris Young, and Upton? I don't see much of an opportunity for either prospect there with an already full, relatively young and half decent Outfield.

Matt Forman: Austin Jackson was actually traded to the Tigers in the three-team deal... The Diamondbacks acquired Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in the swap. Jackson ended up being sent to Detroit � you'll have to check back to find out where Jackson will rank in the Tigers' new top 10.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown,Delaware): What are your thought on class A pitcher Roque Mercedes, who the Diamondbacks got from the Brewer's organization?

Matt Forman: Roque Mercedes came over with Cole Gillespie in the Felipe Lopez deal... Mercedes moved to the bullpen in 2008, and the results have been positive ever since. He's primarily a two-pitch hurler, using an 89-94 mph fastball and a low-80s slider. Scouts have compared Mercedes to LaTroy Hawkins, more for his physical frame. Mercedes has a chance to be a power arm in the late innings.

    MJ (Valpo): I thought Reynaldo Navarro might've squeezed his way into this list—since he was on it last season, and seemed to improve at South, how far did he slip down? He's still so young, and now has quite a bit of game experience. How does the D-Back brass feel about him?

Matt Forman: The Diamondbacks have been waiting for Navarro to turn a corner for several years and he finally did in 2009. He doesn't have an incredibly high upside package, but he doesn't have many weaknesses, outside of his strike number (85 in 121 games). Navarro wasn't highly considered for the top 10, but he ranks somewhere in the top 30.

    Josh G (Sacto, CA): Was Cole Gillespie close to cracking the top 10?

Matt Forman: Not too close, no. Gillespie is a solid player, profiling as a fourth outfielder platoon type. He's the perfect roster protection player for Arizona and could earn a chance to play in the big leagues next year. Scouts have compared Gillespie to Matt Murton.

    Sean (Calgary, Canada): 7 of the top 10 prospects are 2009 draftees. Does this indicate a weakened system due to recent promotions or an exceptional draft year? Which of these 2009 draftees will contribute as solid regulars first?

Matt Forman: It's a little bit of both, though probably more that the Diamondbacks have a depleted system. When the list is finalized, there's going to be a record-breaking number of draftees making the top 30. Arizona did a solid job of getting value in this year's draft and took advantage of the number early-round picks. The combined effect means that there are very few players on this year's list that were last year.

    Brent (Appleton): Is Parker still a top 5 pitching prospect? Would you take him in the long term over a guy like Kyle Drabek or Martin Perez?

Matt Forman: Talking with scouts, everyone seems confident that Parker is still a top-flight pitching prospect. Top 5? I would have to think about it more, but he might be on the outside looking in. Several scouts said he had the best pure stuff they saw all year. No one seemed concerned with Parker's delivery or mechanis, and so far his recovery from Tommy John is progressing well. Personally, I would take Drabek and Perez over Parker. Ask 10 people, though, and you'd probably get a few different answers.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Schuster make your top 30? Were his string of no-hitters a fluke?

Matt Forman: Any time a pitcher strings together four no-hitters there's going to be some luck involved, but you've got to give Schuster some credit. He doesn't have a textbook delivery, and his slinging across-the-body arm motion creates a lot of deception, especially for high school hitters. He took some lumps during the summer season, which was expected since he threw so many innings during the spring. He's a guy who pitches off rhythm and feel, and struggled to get into a groove during the summer.

    camden (Florida): What makes Bobby Borchering better than Matt Davidson? How are they different?

Matt Forman: Reading the scouting reports, Borchering and Davidson are similar players. But I'll prove a different way of looking at this question, simply in the comparisons scouts have for the players... Would you rather have Chipper Jones or Matt Williams (minus the glove)? It's a tough call, but I'll take Jones. In terms of now ability, Borchering is ahead of Davidson. Borchering's swing, from both sides, is much more refined than Davidson's from one side. Borchering has a slightly better chance of staying at third base, if he continues to work defensively. And, in terms of body type, one scout said there are a good number of major leaguers who would look at Borchering's body and blush... He's got an incredible size and strength package.

    mike (fl): what about Mark hallberg, I know he had a tough year but i still think he's a legit prospect

Matt Forman: Mark Hallberg doesn't have any stand-out tools, they're mostly fringe-average. He doesn't have a quick bat or a pure swing. He's a below-average runner. Hallberg is more of a disciplined hitter than a hitability type. What Hallberg lacks he makes up for in terms of intelligence and instincts. He's a nice organizational player who could be a big-league utility player down the line and will likely open next year at Triple-A Reno.

    David (Tempe, AZ): Where does AZ's farm system rank with the influx of talent at the draft? Somewhere around 20?

Matt Forman: Baseball America's John Manuel took a stab at the preliminary organization rankings recently in a blog entry: There, John ranks the Diamondbacks in the bottom five, which seems about right for me.

    Shane (Miami): Matt, enjoyed this list! What do you think the odds are that Parker is shifted to the pen? There are not as many successes as there are failures for starters effectively returning from Tommy John surgery.

Matt Forman: Arizona is going to give Jarrod Parker every opportunity to prove himself as a starter, as well it should. There are very few, if any, pitching prospects in baseball with the pure stuff that Parker has. He's a special arm, without a doubt. He would have been given an invitation to Major League camp in spring training had he been healthy.

    Grant (Phoenix): Was David Nick considered for the top 10? Is he a good defender and do you see him as an everyday player in the majors, or more of a utility player?

Matt Forman: David Nick wasn't highly considered for the top 10, but he falls in the 11-30 range for sure. Defensively, Nick has an unconventional throwing motion and below-average arm strength. His footwork is average but needs to improve to make up for his arm. To me, Nick is more of an offensive minded, bat off the bench type in the big leagues. He drives the ball well to all fields and has a violent whip-like swing.

    Sam (Mesa, AZ): Is there any organization that drafted as poorly in back to back years as the Diamondbacks did in 2007 and 2008? Other than Parker, maybe Augenstein and Schlereth (now traded but probably an overdraft in the 1st round), I'm struggling to find anyone from those two drafts that will be a contributor at the big league level. Am I missing anyone or did the organization just basically go to sleep on those two drafts?

Matt Forman: The Diamondbacks didn't have the best drafts in 2007 and 2008, which is part of the reason why the system is depleted right now. That doesn't mean there won't be major league contributors, however: Wade Miley, Kevin Eichhorn, Colin Cowgill, Pat McAnaney, Barry Enright and Reynaldo Navarro, along with Parker and Augenstein, all have a chance to be solid big leaguers.

    kevin (chicago): if not traded would ryne white of made the top 10

Matt Forman: White wasn't being considered for the top 10, but he was in consideration for the top 30. White is a classic lefty hitter, but uses the whole field to his advantage. He makes consistent contact and has good raw strength. White doesn't have a high upside package, but is versatile enough to play several positions.

    David (Tempe, AZ): The list mentioned a lack of athletes up the middle. Is Keon Broxton or Reynaldo Navarro a legitimate prospect?

Matt Forman: Both Broxton and Navarro are legitimate prospects. And both rank similarly in the top 30, somewhere in the 11-30 range. Arizona's front office is pretty high on Broxton, the prototypical scouting tool shed. Broxton is extremely athletic, you're right, and profiles to be a major league center fielder down the line. Scouts have compared Broxton to the D-Backs own Chris Young, circa 2007. Broxton will need some refinement, but should be an interesting guy to follow over the next few years.

    l.nodolf (Fillmore,CA): Who are the top 2b/ss prospects in the system? Also does davidson more likely to stay at 3b than borchering?

Matt Forman: At second: Chris Owings, David Nick, Mark Hallberg and Rusty Ryal. At short: Reynaldo Navarro, Pedro Ciriaco, Brent Greer and Raul Navarro. I'd say Borchering has a slightly better chance of staying at third in the long run, though not by much.

    Jose (San Diego): Are there any guys from the DSL club that will make the jump to an American club in 2010? Are there any high ceiling players there?

Matt Forman: Not to be confused with Reynaldo Navarro, fellow shortstop Raul Navarro is a legitimate prospect. Raul has a very mature approach to hitting for a 17-year-old in the DSL. Raul projects to have above average power and knows how to get on base, thanks to a simple and repeatable swing. He's an above-average defender and an average runner. For such a young player, the game seems to come easily to him, playing very under control. There's a good chance you'll see Raul with an American club in 2010.

    Phil (Richmond): What are your thoughts on Patrick McAnaney? What do you think his ceiling is and do you see him as a starter or reliever? Thanks

Matt Forman: Patrick McAnaney sits 85-89 mph with his fastball. He also throws a 69-78 mph curveball and a mid-70s changeup. McAnaney is a feel-to-pitch guy, with a good sense of the ball and how it moves. He's not afraid to add or subtract from his fastball, and has varying shapes and breaks to his breaking ball. McAnaney throws the ball over the plate consistently and doesn't fall in love with any one pitch or sequence. The physical stuff isn't projectable but it plays when he's on the mound. Scouts have compared him to a poor-man's Jamie Moyer. He'll be a swing man, either pitching in the back-half of the rotation or in middle relief.

Matt Forman: Thanks for all of your questions everybody, sorry I couldn't get to all of them. I appreciate you tuning in for the chat, but I've got to get back to some Winter Meetings action. This wraps up the top 10 lists for all of the National League teams. Be sure to check back next week to see who ranks in the top 10 for the Jays and Orioles. And don't miss Baseball America's live coverage of tomorrow's Rule 5 Draft.