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If the Royals hadn't changed their minds on the day of the 2007 draft, they would have taken Josh Vitters second overall and the Cubs would have followed by selecting Parker. But Kansas City went with a different high school hitter, Mike Moustakas, so Vitters fell to Chicago and Parker fell to the Diamondbacks, who were thrilled to get him with the ninth overall pick. After signing late that summer for $2.1 million, Parker ranked as the low Class A Midwest League's No. 3 prospect in his 2008 pro debut. Parker needed just four starts at high Class A Visalia last April to earn a promotion to Double-A Mobile, and he rated as the Southern League's top pitching prospect despite being shut down for the season with elbow tightness in late July. He hoped rest and rehab would cure his elbow, and skipped planned stints with Team USA and in the Arizona Fall League. He started throwing side sessions again in September, but when his elbow didn't improve, he had Tommy John surgery in late October. Even if he misses all of 2010, Parker is still well ahead of the learning curve at age 21. His brother Justin, a third baseman, signed with Arizona as a sixth-round pick in 2008 and spent last season in low Class A. When healthy, Parker sits at 93-95 mph and touches 97 with his fastball. His size and the ease with which he generates velocity earn him comparisons to Tim Lincecum. Parker offers three quality secondary pitches to go along with his heater. His 80-84 mph slider, a swing-and-miss pitch with late tilt and two-plane depth, rates a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His curveball has classic 12-to-6 break. His changeup came a long way last season, showing flashes of becoming a plus pitch. He trusts his stuff, shows command of all four pitches and has a presence on the mound. He's athletic and repeats his delivery well. Though Parker needed reconstructive surgery, there are no red flags in his mechanics. Scouts always have been impressed with Parker's smooth, clean arm action and compact, easy delivery. Outside of Parker's health, there's not much to quibble with. He'll miss all or most of the 2010 season, and may not regain his full stuff and command until mid-2011. He still needs to refine his overall feel for pitching, and he can get inconsistent with his location in the strike zone. He overthrows occasionally, leaving pitches up. His fastball doesn't have great late life and can get flat at times. Before his elbow injury, Parker was on the verge of becoming the third high school pitcher to race from the 2007 draft to the majors, following Tigers righthander Rick Porcello and Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner. Though it's obviously a setback, Tommy John surgery shouldn't have a long-term effect on Parker's value as a prospect because of the track record of pitchers recovering from elbow reconstruction. He still should be a bona fide top-of-the-rotation starter, it's just that his timetable will be delayed. If all goes well in his recovery, he could join the Diamondbacks late in the 2011 season.
In a deep 2009 high school draft class in Florida, Borchering was regarded as the best hitter available. The first of Arizona's five picks before the second round, he went 16th overall and signed for $1.8 million. He struggled early at Rookie-level Missoula, but went 9-for-28 with four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs in six postseason games. Borchering draws comparisons to Chipper Jones because he's a Florida native with a similar frame who switch-hits and has a lot of pop in his bat. Borchering rated as the top prep power hitter in the draft and has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order force. Better from the left side of the plate, he has excellent bat speed and an advanced feel to hit. He has the arm strength to play third base. Borchering never will be a smooth defender. He'll have to work hard to stay at third base, though the Diamondbacks believe he can. His footwork has improved, but he'll have to get more consistent in fielding the ball cleanly and making accurate throws. He also needs to tighten his plate discipline, as he tends to chase high fastballs and low curveballs. Borchering will open his first full season at low Class A South Bend, probably alternating at third base and DH with supplemental first-rounder Matt Davidson. If Borchering has to eventually change positions, he'll have enough power to profile well at first base.
Pollock didn't have to make much of a transition after being drafted 17th overall in June, as both Notre Dame and Arizona's low Class A affiliate play in South Bend, Ind. Signed for $1.4 million, he first caught the Diamondbacks' attention by winning Cape Cod League MVP honors in the summer of 2008. Pollock's best tool is his bat, and his bat speed, strong hands and line-drive approach should allow him to hit for high average. He has gap power, slightly above-average speed and good instincts on the bases. He's a quality defender with an average arm in center field. In addition to his all-around athleticism, he also has strong makeup. Some scouts take a glass-half-empty view and say Pollock doesn't do anything particularly well beyond hit. He showed a tendency to get out on his front foot during the spring at Notre Dame, but he has a calmer approach with wood bats. His swing can get flat at times, limiting his power. Pollock projects as a solid major league leadoff hitter and center fielder, mostly because he knows how to affect games with his skill set. He could start 2010 in Double-A and will certainly get there at some point during the season. He's on the fast track to Arizona.
Allen looked like the White Sox's heir apparent to Paul Konerko after leading the high Class A Carolina League in slugging (.527) and homering twice off David Price in his first Double-A game in 2008. That changed in early July, when Chicago traded him for Tony Pena. Allen destroyed Triple-A pitching for six weeks, then hit four homers after the Diamondbacks called him up. A star linebacker in high school, Allen has huge raw power. For a big guy, he has some snap in his bat and doesn't have a long swing. He toned down his swing and hit more balls to the opposite field in 2009, allowing him to hit a career-high .298 in the minors. He does a good job of punishing mistakes. He has worked hard to improve his defense. Once Allen got to the major leagues, pitchers exploited him on the inner half. He's not fluid but manages to get the job done at first base, a far cry from the days when he projected as a DH. He has below-average speed, though he's not a baseclogger. Scouts compare him to Mike Jacobs, though Allen has much better plate discipline. He'll get a chance to win a job with the major league club in spring training.
Owings moved up draft boards in the spring as he solidified himself as one of the best prep hitters available. Even more exciting than his bat, from the perspective of Arizona's scouts, was that he had the look of a young Craig Biggio. One of the youngest players in the draft, Owings signed for $950,000 as a sandwich pick and had no trouble with older competition, batting .306 in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. None of Owings' tools are outstanding, but they all grade out as solid across the board. He has a short swing and uses the whole field. As he has added strength, he has started to hit with more authority and should produce for average and gap power. He has drawn comparisons to Gordon Beckham and Aaron Hill, with less power. He's an average runner who shows soft hands and gets good carry on his throws. He plays with a full-throttle mentality at all times. Owings doesn't have traditional shortstop actions, and while he makes the routine plays, he may not make enough of the difficult ones to avoid a move to second base down the road. He'll have to show more plate discipline after drawing just three walks and striking out 25 times in his pro debut. Arizona will give Owings every chance to play shortstop, a position where it lacks a slam-dunk prospect. He'll begin his first full season in low Class A.
Belfiore was Boston College's first baseman and closer, at least until the team's 25- inning, 3-2 loss to Texas in last year's NCAA regionals. He pitched 92⁄3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing three hits while striking out 11--and cementing himself as a potential starter. He had a successful pro debut in that role after signing for $725,000. Belfiore's best pitch is a heavy fastball that sits at 89-92 mph and tops out at 94. Opponents have a hard time lifting it, as shown by his 1.9 groundout/airout ratio and two homers allowed in 58 innings in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League. His 78-82 mph slider can be a plus pitch at times, and he started using his curveball more in instructional league. He has been mixing in more changeups after not throwing the pitch as a college reliever. He has a simple, repeatable delivery. Belfiore wore down at the end of the summer, but that should be less of an issue now that he's a full-time pitcher and will start to work deeper into games. He has a slight stab in the back of his arm swing, which costs him command. He needs to work on locating his pitches to both sides of the plate, and refine his curveball and changeup. If he can develop his secondary pitches, Belfiore can become a No. 3 starter in the big leagues. After exceeding Arizona's expectations in his pro debut, he'll jump to high Class A.
Krauss exploded onto the prospect scene by leading the Cape Cod League in RBIs (34) and on-base percentage (.473) in the summer of 2008, and he nearly hit his way into the first round by batting .402 and setting Ohio school records for homers (27), RBIs (70) and slugging (.852) last spring. After signing for $550,000, he continued to hit in low Class A until he hurt his right ankle running into a wall in July, requiring surgery to remove bone chips. Krauss is a hitter first and a power threat second. His gap-to-gap approach yields consistent results, and he likes to hit the ball to the opposite field. He repeats his swing better than anyone in the system and consistently squares up pitches. Krauss also manages atbats and identifies offspeed pitches well. Krauss isn't an instinctive defender, and a trial at third base in college didn't go well. His below-average speed and range limit him to left field or first base. He has some arm strength but needs to improve his throwing mechanics. Most of Krauss' value lies in his bat, but it should play at any level. He may return to South Bend to start 2010, but he won't remain there long. He could be the first player from Arizona's 2009 draft class to reach the majors.
A disappointing junior season at Loyola Marymount dropped Wheeler to the fifth round of the 2009 draft, where the Diamondbacks signed him for $160,000. Though he didn't enter the system until June, Wheeler was named Arizona's minor league player of the year. He led the short-season Northwest League in on-base percentage (.461) and OPS (.999), and topped those numbers after a late-season promotion to low Class A, where he batted cleanup in the Midwest League playoffs. Potentially the best offensive player in the system, Wheeler has a rhythmic, balanced swing. He has a feel for recognizing pitches and controls the strike zone well. He drives the ball from gap to gap and earns high marks for his plate coverage, particularly in his ability to drive the ball the other way. His offensive package reminds scouts of Joey Votto. An average defender at first base, Wheeler has solid hands and arm strength for the position. Wheeler's big body precludes a return to third base or left field, where he has dabbled in the past. He's a below-average runner. After his successful pro debut, there's no reason Wheeler can't open his first pro season in high Class A. His bat should enable him to move quickly.
Cowgill missed the entire 2007 season at Kentucky with a broken hamate bone in his left hand, and he didn't play after June 14 last season because of a hamstring injury. In between, he led the Northwest League with 11 homers in just 20 games in his 2008 pro debut, and opened his first full pro season in high Class A. The Diamondbacks considered sending him to the Arizona Fall League but kept him in instructional league instead. For an undersized player, Cowgill has surprising power. He has great bat speed and takes advantage when pitchers make mistakes. One team official called Cowgill a gamer and compared him to Aaron Rowand with a better swing. Others compare him to Cody Ross. Cowgill has average speed and uses his instincts to steal bases and chase down balls in center field. His arm is solid. Already 23, Cowgill can't let injuries slow his development further. While he holds his own in center field, he ultimately projects as a right fielder. He can get overly aggressive at times and will chase pitches out of the zone, especially with two strikes. Cowgill earned the right to open 2010 in Double-A after hitting well in his two months at Visalia. On a contender, he profiles as a fourth outfielder who can provide righthanded pop and constant energy.
Davidson has been on scouts' radar screens since he started shining on the high school showcase circuit after his freshman year. He won the home run derby at the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic in the summer of 2008, and another at the National Classic tournament last spring. One of the best high school power hitters available in the draft, he went 35th overall and signed for $900,000. Because Arizona doesn't have a complex-based affiliate and first-round pick Bobby Borchering was assigned to Missoula, Davidson was sent to short-season Yakima. It was a tough assignment, as he hit .241/.312/.319 as the youngest regular in the Northwest League. He has plus-plus raw power, which he generates more with strength and leverage than bat speed. His swing mechanics, which feature a short backswing and a long follow-through, need refinement. He's a well below-average runner. Though Davidson has made significant defensive improvements since turning pro, some scouts whether he can stay at third base in the long run. His range, hands and footwork are questionable, but he does have the arm strength for the hot corner. He led NWL third basemen with a .934 fielding percentage. Davidson's potential to be a middle-of-the-order thumper has garnered him comparisons to Paul Konerko and Matt Williams. He'll open 2010 in low Class A South Bend, alternating with Borchering at third base and DH.
Augenstein raced through the minor leagues after signing as a seventh-round pick in 2007, making his major league debut last May. He got hit hard in two starts, then returned to the minors before resurfacing in Arizona's bullpen in September. Though Augenstein is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, he doesn't overpower hitters. He sits at 86-89 mph with his sinker, varying his arm angle and usually operating from a low slot. He also features a sweeping 76-79 mph slider and an improving 78-81 mph changeup. He pounds the strike zone and keeps the ball down in the zone, though big league hitters quickly realized that and were able to take advantage of him. Besides working higher in the zone on occasion, he also needs to add more bite to his slider so he can miss more bats. Those who like Augenstein's upside think he can be a solid fourth or fifth starter in the majors. Those who don't question whether he'll be able to get outs at the higher levels. Unless Augenstein wows the Diamondbacks in big league camp, he'll start 2010 in Triple-A.
After he spent his first two pro seasons in Rookie ball, the game started to slow down for Navarro in 2009. After making 66 errors in his first 128 games at shortstop, he made just 29 in 118 contests last season. A plus defender, he has good range to both sides, nimble feet and a solid-average arm. He still lays back on some balls he should charge and he'll rush plays at times, but he's much more consistent at shortstop. Though Navarro has yet to put up big offensive numbers, he showed improvement at the plate as well. Quiet and focused, he shows a repeatable swing and a line-drive approach from both sides. He did a better job of making contact in 2009, though he needs to further cut down his strikeouts and draw more walks. He's not very strong, but he can occasionally drive balls into the gaps and hit 25 doubles last year. A slightly above-average runner, he showed more savvy as a basestealer in 2009 than he had in a past. He projects as a quality defender who'll probably fit toward the bottom of a big league lineup. He's athletic enough to play a variety of positions if he's needed as a utilityman. He'll advance to high Class A in 2010.
Goldschmidt first stood out as a power-hitting corner infielder in 2006, when he teamed with Phillies prospect Kyle Drabek to lead The Woodlands (Texas) High to the national high school championship. Goldschmidt turned down the Dodgers as a 49th-rounder to attend Texas State, where he set a school record with 36 career homers and led NCAA Division I with 87 RBIs last spring. The Southland Conference's first repeat hitter of the year since future big leaguer Ben Broussard a decade earlier, he draws comparisons to Pete Incaviglia for his body type and massive raw power. After signing for $95,000 as an eighth-round pick, Goldschmidt led the Pioneer League in homers (18) and slugging (.638). He has a simple hitting approach and unloads on mistakes. He's an aggressive hitter who will have to prove he can make contact against more advanced pitching because his swing can get long and he can get pull-happy and spin off pitches on the outer half. He's a good athlete and runner for his size, but he's still a below-average runner and defender. His lack of range limits him to first base, and he's not smooth around the bag. Because the Diamondbacks have a number of corner-infield prospects--they selected four ahead of him in the 2009 draft--he may get a chance to play left field in the future. With Ryan Wheeler ticketed for high Class A, Goldschmidt figures to open 2010 in South Bend.
When Smith first arrived at Rhode Island, he was a gangly freshman who looked like the basketball player he was in high school. Smith, who played on the same high school travel teams as A.J. Pollock, filled out his frame and added strength. He helped his cause in the 2009 draft with back-to-back strong outings against Miami and Cal State Fullerton, and wound up becoming the highest draft pick in Rams history when Arizona took him in the second round. Signed for $605,700, he capped his pro debut with three solid starts in low Class A. Smith pounds the zone with a 90-92 mph sinker that's difficult to lift. He features three secondary pitches: an 84-86 mph slider that's a plus offering at times, a solid-average changeup and a curveball. He needs to improve his feel with his secondary pitches, though he has shown the ability to add and subtract from his slider. He also must work on commanding his pitches to both sides of the plate and on building up his endurance. Smith, who has a ceiling as a No. 3 starter, will open his first full season in high Class A.
Miley was one of four Louisiana prep lefties in 2005 who became supplemental first-round picks. Beau Jones (Braves) and Sean West (Marlins) signed out of high school, while Miley and Jeremy Bleich (Yankees) went in the sandwich round after three years of college. Signed for $887,000, Miley spent most of his first full-season in low Class A. His reviews, like his performance, were inconsistent. At his best, he showed three quality pitches in a 90-91 mph fastball that touched 93, a promising low-80s slider and a solid changeup with some fade and sink. At other times, his fastball sat at 87-88 mph, his slider became slurvy and his changeup lacked deception because he slowed his arm speed. Miley needs to do a more consistent job throwing strikes and locating his pitches, especially inside against righthanders. He throws across his body, which makes him deceptive but detracts from his command. Miley has the upside of a No. 3 starter but also could wind up as a reliever. He should reach
Gillespie helped Oregon State win the 2006 College World Series and quickly became one of the Brewers' best outfield prospects after signing as a third-round pick that summer. When Milwaukee needed a second baseman last July, it packaged Gillespie and righthander Roque Mercedes to get Felipe Lopez from the Diamondbacks. Fellow July trade acquisition Brandon Allen and Gillespie are the most advanced position prospects in the system. He has a steady set of tools that rate as solid average across the board. He's a gap-to-gap hitter with decent power. He knows how to put together a professional at-bat and has good plate discipline, though he can get pull-happy at times. An average runner, he can swipe a few bases because of his baseball IQ. With average speed, athleticism and arm strength, he fits best in left field but saw time at all three outfield spots after he was traded. Gillespie doesn't figure to get the opportunity to play every day for Arizona, but he should be a solid fourth outfielder and could get that chance at some point in 2010.
Broxton originally signed a football scholarship to play wide receiver for Florida Atlantic, but decided to attend Sante Fe (Fla.) CC instead. After turning down the Phillies as a 29th-round pick in 2008, he returned for his sophomore season and starred as the Saints finished second at the Junior College World Series. The highest draft pick in Santa Fe history, he signed for $358,000 as a third-round pick. While Broxton still needs a lot of refinement, he's loaded with tools. He has a similar body type and similar tools to Chris Young, and Arizona hopes he develops into the Chris Young of 2007. Broxton has above-average raw power and speed. He has a quick bat that can handle most fastballs but he struggles with offspeed stuff. He has a maximum-effort approach and long swing that resulted in 93 strikeouts in 72 pro games. He's going to have to cut back on his stroke and avoid chasing pitches out of the zone. Broxton played shortstop in high school and has the ability to play all three outfield positions with his plus range and solid arm. He'll patrol center field this season in low Class A, where he'll have to show that he can make the necessary adjustments to hit.
Eichhorn went to the Little League World Series in 2002 with the Aptos, Calif., team that was coached by his father Mark, who pitched 11 seasons in the major leagues. A third-round pick in 2008, Kevin has pitched just 19 innings since signing late that summer for $500,000. He had an elbow hiccup in his first spring training, and minor surgery kept him from reporting to Missoula before late July. Eichhorn sits at 87-91 mph with his fastball, has a good three-quarters breaking ball and shows feel for a changeup. It's already a solid three-pitch mix, and he can add velocity once he fills out his lean body with more muscle. He's a quality athlete who also would have played shortstop had he attended Santa Clara. His repeatable delivery should allow him to throw strikes. He's mature for his age and shows good aptitude on the mound. Eichhorn is ready for full-season ball and should open 2010 in low Class A.
Nick came out of the same Cypress (Calif.) High program that produced former big leaguer Troy O'Leary and first-round picks Scott Moore and Josh Vitters. A fourth-round pick in June, Nick received a $225,000 bonus. He has unorthodox hitting and throwing mechanics, but he gets the job done. At the plate, he uses a wide stance with little load or movement, then flicks violently at the ball to create pop. He stays inside the ball well and sprays the ball to all fields with decent authority. Nick moved from shortstop in high school to second base as a pro, in large part because of his below-average arm strength and unusual throwing motion. He does make accurate throws, but he needs to improve his footwork to get rid of the ball more quickly. Nick was old for a high school signee at 19, but he's well ahead of his years in baseball intelligence. He's a pesky, instinctive player who can steal a few bases with his average speed. None of his tools projects as better than average, but he profiles as an offensive-minded second baseman. He'll start the year in low Class A.
Playing in the Diamondbacks' backyard, Helm was seen early and often by the club. That worked to Arizona's advantage because other teams didn't get much of a chance to evaluate him last spring, when knee and ankle injuries sidelined him for much of his high school senior season. The Diamondbacks took him in the seventh round and signed him at the Aug. 17 deadline for $500,000. Helm has present strength and the ability to put a charge in the baseball. His hitting ability and his power are his calling cards. His swing gets a little long at times, and he'll chase pitches out of the zone on occasion. Repetition and learning what pitches he can drive will be crucial to his development. Though Helm is a slightly below-average runner, he has a quick first step at third base and a strong arm. Arizona drafted him with the idea of playing him at the hot corner, but fellow 2009 draftees Bobby Borchering and Matt Davidson need reps there as well. For that reason, Helm played first base after joining Yakima in late August, and he saw time at second base and in the outfield during instructional league. Borchering, Davidson and Helm all figure to be at South Bend in 2010, so Helm may have to shuffle between several positions.
Schuster became the center of national attention in the spring when he threw four consecutive no-hitters-- two short of the national high school record--and generated nearly as much hype as No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg. Besides the fanfare, there are few similarities between the two pitchers. Clubs weren't sure exactly what to make of Schuster's slingshot delivery or the prospect of signing him away from a commitment to Florida, so he was available for the Diamondbacks in the 13th round. They signed him shortly before the deadline for $450,000. Schuster has a lot of moving parts in his delivery and varies his arm slots, making it difficult for hitters to pick his pitches his up. His 89-92 mph sinker and lefty funk were tough for high schoolers to handle, but there are questions as to how well his stuff will translate against more advanced hitters. Schuster's fastball has sneaky carry and has touched 94 at times. He also throws an upper-70s curveball with good snap and a low-80s slider with sweeping bite from his low three-quarters arm slot. His changeup is a work in progress. Depending on how Schuster fills out physically, he could be a back-end starter or a lefty specialist. He'll open 2010 in low Class A.
The best defensive catcher in the system, Perez led the Midwest League by throwing out 44 percent of basestealers in 2009, his first year in full-season ball. He has above-average arm strength, recording pop times of 1.9 seconds, and is a good receiver. Despite his youth, he received strong reviews for his ability to handle a pitching staff. He has a good understanding of the game, embraces catching and brings energy to the position. The question with Perez is how much offense he'll be able to provide. His flat, line-drive stroke isn't conducive to power, and he slugged just .317 last season. He does control the strike zone and make consistent contact, so he should hit for a decent average. With his well-below-average speed and tendency to hit the ball on the ground, he hits into a lot of double plays. Perez has been likened to a switch-hitting version of Mike LaValliere, who carved out a 12-year career in the majors, and projects as a platoon player or backup in the majors. He'll get every opportunity to play in high Class A this year.
Collmenter doesn't look pretty and isn't overpowering, but he misses bats and has pitched his way into prospect status. Though he had a successful career at Central Michigan, his thick body and mixed signals about his signability dropped him to the 15th round of the 2007 draft, where he signed for $80,000. He led the Northwest League with a 2.71 ERA in his pro debut, and he topped the high Class A California League with 152 strikeouts in 145 innings last season. Collmenter's over-the-top delivery may make scouts cringe, but it creates deception because hitters don't see it very often. His fastball usually sits at 86-88 but it's hard to square up because of its natural cutting action. At times, his heater can reach the low 90s. His changeup is a strikeout pitch, and he also uses a slow curveball. Collmenter has tremendous feel for pitching, keeping hitters off balance by adding and subtracting from each of his pitches. He has been known to experiment on the mound, throwing an eephus pitch and knuckleball in college. Collmenter will have to prove himself again in 2010, this time in Double-A, but he's starting to look like a back-of-the-rotation option.
The Diamondbacks shy away from big-bonus players in Latin America, preferring instead to spread their money among several players each summer. Burgos, who signed for $295,000 out of Panama in 2007, received the largest bonus Arizona has given to an international player since Josh Byrnes became general manager. His father Enrique Sr. pitched briefly in the majors. Burgos got hammered in his U.S. debut last summer, which was to be expected with an 18-year-old pitching in an extreme hitter's league against older competition. His stuff is much more impressive than his 6.26 ERA at Missoula. He sits at 90-94 mph with a fastball that flashes cutting and sinking action, not necessarily by design. He throws a 79-83 mph slurve with sharp three-quarters break. He also has a solid 80-83 mph changeup. Burgos has a loose arm and delivers the ball from a high three-quarters slot, creating good angle to the plate. He has long arms and his delivery can get awkward at times, costing him control. He'll have to polish his mechanics and avoid overthrowing. Burgos probably will open 2010 in extended spring training before reporting to Yakima or Missoula in June.
Hester has gone from organizational player to big leaguer in just three short years, blasting a 420-foot homer to dead center at Chase Field in his first at-bat with the Diamondbacks last August. He sat for two seasons at Stanford behind future big leaguers Ryan Garko and Donny Lucy before becoming the Cardinal's starting catcher in 2005-06. The Diamondbacks signed Hester for $1,000 as a 13th-round pick, more for his big, physical frame than any standout tool. He made steady if unspectacular progress through the minors before taking his game up a notch in 2009. He has the strength for big-time pull power, though he employs an opposite-field approach. While his swing can get long at times, he did a better job of making contact last season. He's no blazer but runs well for a catcher, capable of taking an extra base or surprising opponents with an occasional steal. Hester has decent catch-and-throw skills and threw out 29 percent of basestealers last season. With Chris Snyder expected to be healthy again and back up Miguel Montero in 2010, Hester will return to Triple-A and wait for a call from Arizona.
Septimo had little success as a position player, batting .253/.312/.348 in five pro seasons and standing out mostly with his arm strength in right field. The Diamondbacks converted him to the mound after the 2007 season and have protected him on the 40-man roster after each of the last two seasons. Few lefthanders can throw as hard as Septimo, who has a 92-97 mph fastball that touches triple-digits. He has a loose arm with whip and fires the ball from a low three-quarters slot that makes it even tougher to pick up his pitches. If hitters look for his heat, Septimo can cross them up with a slider or changeup. While he has racked up 113 strikeouts in 98 innings, he understandably still is learning the nuances of pitching. He has trouble locating his pitches and getting ahead in the count, leading to too many baserunners. If he can put everything together, scouts envision him becoming a harder-throwing version of Damaso Marte. In 2010, Septimo will try to conquer Double-A after posting a 7.85 ERA there last season.
Ciriaco's package of raw tools has been among the best in the system since he signed in 2003, but it has been a slow process to refine them. He has the potential to impact with his glove and feet, but his offensive game is still a work in progress. Ciriaco had a career year when he repeated the hitter-friendly California League in 2008. While he hit .296 in Double-A last season, he totaled only 22 extra-base hits and 10 walks. After making good swing adjustments in 2008, he didn't hit the ball with much authority last year. He needs to refine his strikezone judgment so he can take advantage of more hitter's counts and get on base more often. He's a plus runner and adept at stealing bases. Defense comes much more easily to Ciriaco than hitting. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop and strongest infield arm in the Southern League in 2009. He has good range and soft hands. Ciriaco saw action at second base last season, preparing him for a possible future as a utilityman. He headed to the Arizona Fall League after the season but didn't show any improvements at the plate. He should open 2010 in Triple-A.
Along with Cole Gillespie, Mercedes joined the Diamondbacks in the Felipe Lopez trade with the Brewers last July. His career started to take off when Milwaukee moved him to the bullpen two months into the 2008 season. Working in relief, Mercedes sits at 89-93 mph with his sinker. He has a whip-like motion and gets tremendous dive on his sinker when he keeps it down in the zone. His low-80s slider has the chance to be a plus pitch if it gains more consistency. He also has a changeup, though he doesn't use it much as a reliever. Scouts have compared him physically to LaTroy Hawkins. Mercedes needs to work on repeating his delivery and commanding his pitches. He doesn't have the pure stuff to be a closer or set-up man, but he could develop into a seventh-inning reliever. After finishing last year in Double-A, he'll return there in 2010 and should reach Triple-A before season's end.
Norberto hit the wall as a starting pitcher in low Class in 2007-08, but found more success after moving to the bullpen in July of the latter season. Last year, his first as a full-time reliever, he had mixed results, impressing in the hitter-friendly California League but scuffling after a promotion to Double-A. Norberto has good velocity for a lefthander, with a fastball that ranges from 89-95 mph and usually settles in around 92. It features late, sinking life. He's still searching for a reliable second pitch. His hard curveball is a fringe-average pitch, and he has mostly scrapped the changeup he used as a starter. He's still more thrower than pitcher and hasn't learned to control the strike zone. The Diamondbacks like Norberto's pure arm strength and competitiveness, and they think he can make a difference in their big league bullpen in the near future. Scouts compare him to a smaller version of J.C. Romero.
Kroenke was a member of Nebraska's rotation for three years in college, often slotting in behind current big leaguers Brian Duensing and Joba Chamberlain. A fifth-round pick by the Yankees in 2005, Kroenke shifted to the bullpen two years later. He has been effective in the relief role, going 14-1 the last two seasons and showing enough to warrant getting pick in the major league phase of the last two Rule 5 drafts. The Marlins returned him to the Yankees after his fastball sat at 86-88 mph early in spring training last year. Kroenke pitched at 89- 91 mph during the season and touched 93 in the Arizona Fall League, though he also posted a 5.28 ERA in 15 AFL innings. Kroenke commands his average slider fairly well and also throws a fringy changeup. Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said the club sees Kroenke as more than just a lefty specialist. He has a good chance to make Arizona's Opening Day roster and will become a free agent if he doesn't, because he was outrighted when Florida sent him back to New York last year.
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