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Diamondbacks Prospects

Moderator: Jack Magruder compiled the Diamondbacks top 10 list and will field your questions about the organization.

 Q:  Eric R. from New York City asks:
Do you think John Patterson currently has the highest ceiling and is the mostly likely to become a succesful major league pitcher among the three Scott Boras bonus babies of his draft along with Bobby Seay and Matt White?

Jack Magruder: I'm a big John Patterson guy. Now that he is more than two years removed from Tommy John surgery, I see a very high ceiling. With his return to full arm strength, he has regained the major league-plus curveball he showed when he was drafted and that he used to dominate the lower minor leagues. His velocity is back to the mid-90s, and -- you hear it all the time, but it applies -- he learned more about his arm when pitching without his best stuff. I think he could really have a solid year, especially after watching what he did down the stretch last year. Seay and White, to me, are not in his class yet.

 Q:  JT Stud from Dayton, OH asks:
Where might Chris Capuano open the season and to whom do you compare his stylestuff with in the Majors? Also, what might we be able to expect from Jeff Stanek this season?

Moderator: Chris' spot depends on his recovery from Tommy John. He is only nine months removed from the operation now but is his in spring training and even threw sliders yesterday. He has a quality arm, and there has been talk about him opening the season in the Class AAA rotation with the likes of Gosling, Webb, Villarreal and Good. But the D'backs believe in taking their time with young players who are recuperating, especially young prospects, and my guess is they will not rush him and may keep him in extended for a little while at least.

 Q:  PPDOLE from La Verne, CA asks:
The Diamond Backs are very high on SS Tim Olson and have him on the 40 man roster. He had good seasons at El Paso and the Arizona Fall League where he was second in hitting. So How come none of the people at Baseball America either don't know about him or never consider him a prospect.

Moderator: We know about Tim, and if I recall is the No. 11 prospect on our list. Excluding him in the best of the rest was my oversight. He has proven to he D'backs he can play shortstop after being moved from there to outfield and third base at Florida and in the minor league system, and will open there at Tucson this year. He did some work on his stance in the Fall League, using a leg kick as a timing mechanism, and it seemed to pay off. He is a good athlete who has good range at shortstop. He is definitely in their plans.

 Q:  Dave from Chestertown asks:
What is the future of Chad Tracy?

Moderator: Chad Tracy appears the third baseman of the future, perhaps as early as 2004. Matt Williams is 37 and in the final year of his contract, and it remains to be seen where he will fit in the grand scheme next year. Tracy, as you know, was the Texas League player of the year last year when he was hitting about .400 for the first two months. His production was down in the second half, but the D'backs believe that was merenly a function of a mild shoulder injury that occured in the middle of the year. He was sent home early from the Arizona Fall League because of it. He hits hard line drives everywhere. His main competition at third down the road may come from 2002 No. 1 draftee Sergio Santos, who will stay at short for the immediate future but may to the corner if his body keeps getting bigger, as projections seem to indicate.

 Q:  Cerniglia from Bronx , NY asks:
Hey Jim great chat....What's your take on Hairiston? Is he the next Jeff Kent? Will he or Spivey be playing in Arizona's outfield by 2004?

Moderator: It's hard to project anyone as having the ability to put up Jeff Kent numbers when he has not gotten out of Class A yet, but he certainly seems to have the tools. The thing I like about him is that he uses the whole field and can really drive the ball everywhere. He put in a lot of work on his defense in the Arizona Fall League, working on going to his left and also on his footwork and pivot around the bag. He is a willing worker who will get better because of that. As far as his position down the road, hard telling. You see it every day, guys are shifted according to the needs of the organization. I know the organization believes Junior Spivey is an outstanding second baseman. We'll see how it all fits in 2004 or 2005.

 Q:  Jay from Arizona asks:
Jack, what about Oscar Villareal? We rushed him to the Sidewinders in AAA but he held his own as a 20 year old. Where's the love? Where do you think he fits into our plans for 2003 and what is his ceiling?

Moderator: Vllarreal is still a top prospect and can pitch in the middle of a major league rotation. About AAA in 2000 -- Villarreal was working at the minor league complex across the street from Tucson's stadium when injuries hit the staff. Rather than recall someone from El Paso or somewhere, the D'backs just asked Villarreal to make two appearances over there. It was a stopgap, not a promotion, although he did give up only one run in 4 1-3 innings while striking out four. His stay in Tucson this season is on merit. He will be in the dstarting rotation and will be one of the candidates for recall should injuries strike the parent team or if a spot start is needed.

 Q:  Brendan from Boston asks:
I have questions on two prospects. The first being lefty Mike Gosling. What kind of ceiling does this guy have, i was impressed by his '02 numbers and stunned to realize it was his first proseason and at AA ball no less. Why isn't there more hype over this kid? Scondly, Relief prospects in general, Closers in particular, have fairly poor track records of success in the majors, Brian Bruney has great stuff and poise, how well do you think that will carry over? Also, who in te majors would you compare each pitcher to? Thanks for the great work.

Moderator: The right people know who Gosling is. He made the Texas League All-Star team and led the league in victories. His first was rather impressive, to say the least, since he had never even been exposed to the day-to-day grind, the bus rides, etc. that are a big part of the adjustment from amateur to pro. He has four pitchers -- fastball, cutter, curve and change -- and his main focus now is location. But the Texas League only hit .238 or something against him last year, so he knows what he is doing. He could be a No. 2-3 starter, although Johnson, Schilling and John Patterson are ahead of him now. Bruney was a project last season. They slowed him down in spring training with the idea of concentrating on throwing strikes. When he got that down, he still had his 99 mph fastball to rely on. He told me in the Fall League that he did not try to throw quite so hard last year but rather concentated on keeping the ball down. He turned 21 four days ago, so he has a lot of time. He will close at El Paso this year, I would guess. He seemed to figure it out last year and is on the fast track.

 Q:  Chuck from Baltimore MD asks:
What kind of role do you think Lyle Overbay will play this year?

Moderator: Bob Brenly told us at the winter meetings that Lyle Overbay will be the starting first baseman this year. Virtually all in the organization believe Overbay has such a pure swing and solid approach that he can continue his run in the major leagues. He has hit .343, .342, .353, and .343 in his four minor league seasons, as I'm sure you are well aware. He has been a 15-homer, 100-RBI guy so far, but the D'backs believe that he will gain power as he learns more about his swing and matures. His presence was one of the major reasons Erubiel Durazo was on the trading block over the winter. Mark Grace will be mentorbackup this year; at least, those are the early plans

 Q:  James from The Great Southwest asks:
Hello Jack How high of Ceiling do you project for Oscar Villarreal and Luis Terrero? Also is Jerry Gil and Corey Myerss Still considered a Prospects? Thanks.

Moderator: Villarreal and Terrero have the tools to be major league starters. Terrero just shimmers with talent. I saw him play in the Hall of Fame Game, it must have been in 2000, when Cleveland starter C.C. Sabathia, and Terrero was the player of the game. He made two athletic catches in the outfield and went from first to third like a thoroughbred. He must learn strike zone discipline. He swings at too many bad pitches and gets himself out too many times. Others have ocercome that problem, and he certainly has the tools. Jerry Gil is a lot like Terrero -- very, very gifted athletically. I've had scouts tell me he could play shortstop at the major leagues right now. He has good range and a major league-plus arm. He also needs to better learn the strike zone and to recognize pitches. But he won't turn 21 until October, so he has some time. Myers is still working to improve. It appears first base might be his best position now. Some have considered him a catcher.

 Q:  Jason from Tucson, AZ asks:
Was Nippert's amazing performance the result of being older than his competition, or does he have the stuff to continue to dominate as he moves up?

Moderator: Dustin Nippert really was outstanding after signing out of college last year -- 1.65 with 77 strikeouts and nine walks in 54 1-3 innings is not chopped liver. Sure, being older helped. But the man reason for the performance was that the D'backs worked with him on extending his stride during delivery, making his motion more rhythmic and more natural. He gained velocity doing that, too, and was consistently in the mid-90s. He was always very good at throwing strikes. In that brief stretch at Missoula, he threw strikes by people. He is in our top 20 somewhere.

 Q:  Elliot from Tucson, Ariz. asks:
Jack, First off, I quite a fan of your work. I have looked forward to each and every one of your organization reports. Do you think the Byung-Hyun Kim experiment as a starter will work out for the Diamondbacks? If not, who will round out the rotation? Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Moderator: Flattery will get you nowhere, but I'm glad you are a reader. Kim was a dominant pitcher for the Korean national junior team a few years ago, when the D'backs got their first look at him during an international tournament in Tucson. He wants the role, and I think he can do. The organization is worried about pitch count and the consistency of his delivery, but he certainly has the stuff to get lefites out, too. He is planning to use a changeup more this year. I think he has a great chance to succeed. If he makes the rotation, Miguel Batista will move to the bullpen.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
Adriano Rosario had great numbers in the DSL at a very young age. How highly is he regarded by the Dbacks?

Moderator: They like him a lot. The first time scouting director MIke Rizzo saw Rosario at a tryout camp arranged by Junior Naboa, Rosario threw 96 on the first pitch after warming up. He hit 98 in the same workout. The D'backs did not let him leave the compound until they had given him a $400,000 signing bonus. The in thing now is to compare young Latin American players to Francisco Rodriguez ... the D'backs are not willing to go that far yet, but like Rodriguez he also has a tight power slider in the high 80s. He should make rapid advancement

 Q:  John M. Perkins from Macon, GA asks:
What's JMU's Jared Doyle's fit in Arizona's future?

Moderator: Doyle is a high-ceiling guy. He worked in relief early last year to get stretched out but will figures as a starter down the line.

 Q:  Brian from Waukesha, WI asks:
I know Overbay will be contributing soon, but what type of future do you see for Jesus Cota? Also, with the closer situation up in the air, where does Jose Velverde fit in the future?

Moderator: Cota first. He is a Durazo-type hitter with not quite the same power. With first in stable hands, the D'backs played him in left field the second half last year at Lancaster and want him to continue there. He has a quick, short stroke but is still developing plate discipline. Left field is his position for the short term. I saw Valverde throw today. They are working with him like the did with Bruney last year, slowing down his motion and concentrating on mechanics and technique. He has hit 99-100, so they will take their time with him. He projects as the Tucson closer this year.

 Q:  Will from Atlanta asks:
Other than Barajas and Moeller, who do you think they will carry to the 25 man roster at the catching position?

Moderator: Probably no one. If they wanted a utility guy who could catch, they could keep Robby Hammock, who can play the corners in the infield and outfield. But Bob Brenly likes veterans, and Carlos Baerga may have the best chance to be the 14th position player, who will be mainly a pinch-hitter.

 Q:  James from The Great Southwest asks:
Hello Jack another question please! How good do you project Edgar Gonzalez to be, Top of the Rotation and if so what year?

Moderator: With his mid-90s fastball, slider and feel for game situations, Edgar Gonzalez can a No. 2-3 starter. There is a lot of young pitching in this organization

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