Diamondbacks top 5 fantasy prospects
1- Tyler Skaggs, SP
Skaggs went from a very good prospect, to a true blue chip one after adding a few ticks to his fastball. He is a southpaw that now operates in the in the low-90s regularly with his fastball. His best pitch is a 12-to-6 curveball that is a strikeout weapon. He also throws a change-up that is an average pitch and has good velocity separation from his fastball. Skaggs has a good frame, 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, and repeats his delivery well. His repeatable delivery has resulted in outstanding control (2.77 BB/9 across High-A and Double-A in 2011). Make no mistake, this is no finesse lefty, he made hitters look silly with a 11.21 K/9 in 2011. Skaggs is one of the best left-handed prospects in all of baseball, and will be just 20 years old when he opens in Triple-A in 2012.
2- Trevor Bauer, SP
I was oh so close to ranking Bauer above Skaggs, something both Baseball America and John Sickels did in their organization prospect rankings. I held off because of his limited pro data, 26 innings. His funky delivery and unorthodox training methods don't bother me the slightest bit. He throws his fastball with plus velocity, usually lighting up the radar gun with reading in the mid-90s, but it is his 12-to-6 curveball that gets a plus-plus grade and is a whiff generating offering. In addition to his fastball and curveball, he can throw the proverbial kitchen sink at batters by turning to other secondary offering that include a splitter, change-up, slider, and a slurvy breaker that differs from his slider and curveball. All but his slurvy breaker rate as above average pitches. There were rumblings he was on the radar for a September promotion last season, so expect him to fly through the minors.
3- Archie Bradley, SP
Most teams would have been ecstatic to add one potential frontline starter in the draft, and the Diamondbacks added two in 2011 selecting Oklahoma prep star Archie Bradley. Baseball America thought enough of Bradley to rank him ahead of Skaggs. That's quite high praise. Bradley is a gigantic young man at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He pumps out fastballs in the mid-90s and can reach back and touch triple digits. His primary secondary offering is a hard curve that is a true power breaker that gets plus grades now and has room for improvement. He didn't need a change-up in high school, so he'll need to work on developing one. Even though he didn't sign until the August 15 deadline, he did throw two innings in Rookie Level ball, and also impressed scouts and onlookers at Arizona's instructional league in the fall. He'll require patience, but the potential reward for it is huge.
4- Matt Davidson, 3B
Davidson has a bit more swing and miss in his game than I tend to like, 147 strikeouts in 535 at-bats, but makes up for it with a solid walk numbers, 52 walks, and impressive in game power for a 20 year old, 20 home runs. In spite of the high strikeout rate, he hit for a useful .277 average in High-A. If he's able to cut back on the whiffs, he could be a heck of an option at the hot corner. He was at one point in a battle for the right to be called “third baseman of the future,” in Arizona, but surpassed fellow prospect Bobby Borchering. Ryan Roberts was a nice story in 2011, but is nothing more than a place holder for Davidson who could debut in 2013 if he takes to Double-A well this year.
5- A.J. Pollack, OF
Pollack isn't a super flashy prospect. What he lacks in flash, he makes up for with polish and being near major league ready. He doesn't project to hit for more than mid-teens home run totals, but should steal bases and hit for an average that will play well in fantasy games. He stole 36 bases at the Double-A level at an 83.7 percent clip, and slashed .307/.357/.444. If he plays well in Triple-A, he could get a September promotion as a bench bat and reserve outfielder.
Top 5 in 2012
1- Trevor Bauer, SP
I have little faith in Josh Collmenter repeating his smoke and mirrors magic act of 2011, and think there will be an opening in the Diamondbacks rotation sometime over the summer. The Diamondbacks aggressive treatment of Bauer leads me to believe that he'll beat Skaggs to the show.
2- Tyler Skaggs, SP
As of now, the rotation is full at the major league level, and Skaggs looks to be behind Bauer. That said, Skaggs upside is too good to ignore, and how often does a major league rotation stay healthy for the duration of a season?
3- Wade Miley, SP/RP
Miley is a quietly good prospect who is probably going to be forced to the bullpen because of the over abundance of talent on the Diamondbacks major league roster, and in the upper minors. He is a left-handed pitcher that throws with plus velocity (for a southpaw) sitting in the low-90s as a starter. Often times, starters see a bump to their stuff working in shorter spurts. If that's the case for Miley, that could make his fastball a fearsome offering. His best secondary pitch is a plus change-up. Miley also throws a curveball and slider, though both are inconsistent. Those in leagues that count holds should file Miley's name away as a sneaky starting pitcher eligible reliever.
4- Cole Gillespie, OF
The signing of Jason Kubel to a contract has not only pushed Gerardo Parra to the bench, but also Gillespie down the pecking order. Gillespie has proven all he can in the upper minors, and is ready for regular time in the majors. Unfortunately, he finds himself in a pickle stuck behind four outfielders on the major league roster, and feeling A.J. Pollack breating on his neck. He may need another trade to get the playing time he has earned, but the Diamondbacks have few other upper minors options to select as 2012 impact prospects.
5- Brett Lorin, SP/RP
Case in point that the Diamondbacks have few upper minors options to round out this list is the presence of Brett Lorin. Lorin was the teams Rule Five draft selection. As a Rule Five pick, he'll need to stay on the active roster all year, or be offered back to his former organization (Pittsburgh Pirates). Lorin pitched most of his minor league career as a starter, but won't sniff the rotation. He has yet to pitch above High-A, leaving serious questions about his ability to even stick with the Diamondbacks. He is a tall man, 6-foot-7, and leans on a two-pitch mix of a high-80s -to-low-90s sinker and a slider. If he is awarded starting pitcher eligibility, he, like Miley, could be a sneaky holds option.