Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 Prospects

Arizona Diamondbacks

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.

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1. Jarrod Parker, rhp
2. Gerardo Parra, of
3. Daniel Schlereth, lhp
4. Mark Hallberg, ss/2b
5. Wade Miley, lhp
6. Kevin Eichhorn, rhp
7. Cesar Valdez, rhp
8. Billy Buckner, rhp
9. Collin Cowgill, of
10. Reynaldo Navarro, ss
Best Hitter for Average Gerardo Parra
Best Power Hitter Josh Whitesell
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Mark Hallberg
Fastest Baserunner Ollie Linton
Best Athlete Tyrell Worthington
Best Fastball Jarrod Parker
Best Curveball Cesar Valdez
Best Slider Jarrod Parker
Best Changeup Cesar Valdez
Best Control Trevor Harden
Best Defensive Catcher Ryan Babineau
Best Defensive Infielder Pedro Ciriaco
Best Infield Arm Pedro Ciriaco
Best Defensive Outfielder Gerardo Parra
Best Outfield Arm Gerardo Parra
Catcher Chris Snyder
First Base Conor Jackson
Second Base Mark Hallberg
Third Base Mark Reynolds
Shortstop Stephen Drew
Left Field Gerardo Parra
Center Field Chris Young
Right Field Justin Upton
No. 1 Starter Brandon Webb
No. 2 Starter Jarrod Parker
No. 3 Starter Max Scherzer
No. 4 Starter Dan Haren
No. 5 Starter Wade Miley
Closer Daniel Schlereth
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Brad Penny, rhp Dodgers
2000 John Patterson, rhp Rangers
2001 Alex Cintron, ss Orioles
2002 Luis Terrero, of Orioles
2003 Scott Hairston, 2b Padres
2004 Scott Hairston, 2b Padres
2005 Carlos Quentin, of White Sox
2006 Stephen Drew, ss Diamondbacks
2007 Justin Upton, of Diamondbacks
2008 Carlos Gonzalez, of Athletics
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Corey Myers, ss Out of baseball
2000 Mike Schultz, rhp (2nd) Hiroshima (Japan)
2001 Jason Bulger, rhp Angels
2002 Sergio Santos, ss Twins
2003 Conor Jackson, of Diamondbacks
2004 Stephen Drew, ss Diamondbacks
2005 Justin Upton, of Diamondbacks
2006 Max Scherzer, rhp Diamondbacks
2007 Jarrod Parker, rhp Diamondbacks
2008 Daniel Schlereth, lhp Diamondbacks
Travis Lee, 1996 $10,000,000
Justin Upton, 2005 $6,100,000
John Patterson, 1996 $6,075,000
Stephen Drew, 2004 $4,000,000
Max Scherzer, 2006 $3,000,000
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Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are moving into the next phase of their evolution. No longer young upstarts, they'll come to spring training with established players at most positions and the expectation of contending for the National League West title.

Arizona brought lots of young talent through its farm system in recent years, culminating in a 90-win season, NL West title and Division Series victory in 2007. The front office then bolstered the big league team with the acquisition of veterans like Dan Haren—who came over before the 2008 season in a trade that sent six prospects to the Athletics—as well as Adam Dunn, Jon Rauch and David Eckstein, who were acquired during the year.

The 2008 squad ultimately fell short of the playoffs, however, after spending most of the season in first place in the West. With the Rockies taking a big step back, Arizona spent all of May and June in first place, then battled with the Dodgers in the second half before relinquishing the division lead for good on Sept. 5.

A mediocre offense was to blame, as the Diamondbacks finished fifth in the NL in runs allowed (706) but 10th in runs scored (720). At least they scored more runs than they allowed, after making the playoffs despite a -20 run differential in 2007.

The Diamondbacks will depend on the continued improvement of young players like Stephen Drew and Justin Upton to remain in contention over the next few years. They'll have to, because the farm system is dramatically thinner in talent than just a few years ago, when Arizona sat at the top of our minor league talent rankings.

That's the result of players like Drew and Upton moving quickly through the system to the big leagues, as well as the wholesale trading of prospects for big leaguers in the last couple of years. From last year's Top 30 list, eight of the top 17 prospects have been traded away. Off the 2007 list, 19 of the 30 players either have been traded or have graduated to the majors. The highest player from the 2007 Top 30 still in the farm system is outfielder Gerardo Parra, who since has moved from No. 14 to No. 2 in our rankings.

Arizona also will rely on its young core because it doesn't have the money to plug holes Yankees-style. The Diamondbacks made news as one of the first professional sports franchises to announce layoffs during the economic recession, firing 31 people after the season ended.

The baseball-operations budget reportedly will be around $75 million for 2009, a total that includes the major league payroll as well as the draft budget, among other things. Arizona was left to shop for stopgaps like Felipe Lopez and Scott Schoenweis over the winter. What flexibility the team did have resulted from Randy Johnson's $10 million salary coming off the books, as well as those of Juan Cruz, Orlando Hudson and Brandon Lyon, who together made about $11 million last season.

Any help the Diamondbacks have coming soon will be on the pitching side, where their draft efforts have focused in the last two years. It wouldn't be shocking to see 2007 first-rounder Jarrod Parker or 2008 first-rounder Daniel Schlereth in the big leagues at some point this year.

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