D-backs stacked with future arms in NL West
Bauer, Bradley, Skaggs highlight division's all-prospect rotation
Who are the best prospects in each organization? Which Minor Leaguers should you get the most excited about seeing on your favorite team? Now it's just a click away, with the rankings of the Top 20 prospects for each organization being unveiled on Prospect Watch this week.
Next up is the National League West, with a new division coming each day through Saturday. Let's go one step further. Within the Top 20s in each division, who are the best prospects? MLB.com spoke to general managers from outside each division to get their thoughts on who the top future stars are within that division. Today, it's time to discuss the NL West all-prospect team.
Trevor Bauer (No. 9 on Top 100; D-backs' No. 1)
Archie Bradley (No. 20 on Top 100; D-backs' No. 2)
Tyler Skaggs (No. 21 on Top 100; D-backs' No. 3)
Drew Pomeranz (No. 24 on Top 100; Rockies' No. 2)
Zach Lee (No. 45 on Top 100; Dodgers' No. 1)
Two things stand out with this rotation: It's as good as any division's, with all five in the top 50 (four in the top 25), and the D-backs have an embarrassment of riches, with the top three on this staff.
It was easy to agree on the top four, though the general manager interviewed for this story wondered aloud about how it will be interesting to see if Pomeranz maintains his stuff all year. There was some debate, however, about the No. 5 spot in the rotation. The Dodgers' Lee certainly has a bright future, but others were discussed, like the Padres' Casey Kelly, who is No. 50 on the overall Top 100 list. Other Padres were also considered, with Joe Wieland and Joe Ross, the organization's second first-round pick from last June's Draft, getting praise.
"We really like Joe Ross, his delivery and his arm action," the GM said. "I realize how far away he is. ... I know we're probably in the minority, but we would probably take him over Archie Bradley or Zach Lee. He has the chance for better secondary stuff than Bradley."
Heath Hembree (Giants' No. 3)
Hembree is clearly the best of the relief crop coming up in the division. The Minor League leader in saves in 2011, he's struck out 14 batters per nine innings since being drafted in 2010.
1B: Yonder Alonso (No. 39 on Top 100; Padres' No. 1)
New to the NL West, he replaces the guy who would've been here in Anthony Rizzo. The Padres evidently preferred Alonso to Rizzo, and the Miami product should rack up the doubles at Petco Park in 2012.
2B: Cory Spangenberg (No. 81 on Top 100; Padres' No. 6)
He's the only second baseman in the Top 100. The 2011 first-round pick hit the ground running by signing early and then going out and hitting well in his summer debut. He was the clear choice above the Giants' Charlie Culberson or his organization-mate Joe Panik, who could end up at either middle-infield position (more on him below).
SS: Chris Owings (D-backs' No. 4)
There wasn't a clear-cut choice here, and the GM expressed some surprise that there weren't more options from which to choose. Panik, the Giants' first-round pick from 2011, was discussed, but he may not even be a shortstop long term (he played second base exclusively in the Arizona Fall League). The GM said he would strongly consider the Rockies' Trevor Story but added, "It's not a great group there."
3B: Nolan Arenado (No. 22 on Top 100; Rockies' No. 1)
Here, there were some options. While Arenado, last year's Minor League RBI leader and the AFL MVP, was the obvious choice, having a backup like the Padres' Jedd Gyorko is not a bad thing at all.
C: Yasmani Grandal (No. 68 on Top 100; Padres' No. 4)
Grandal came with Alonso to the Padres in the Mat Latos deal, and he's not too far from being big league ready. He was given a slight edge for the spot over the Rockies' Wilin Rosario.
"Grandal is a little bit more polished with his plate discipline," the GM explained. "Both will be defenders. Rosario might be a little flashier, but Grandal may transition to the big leagues better."
Gary Brown (No. 48 on Top 100; Giants' No. 1)
Rymer Liriano (No. 60 on Top 100; Padres' No. 3)
Francisco Peguero (No. 98 on Top 100; Giants' No. 2)
This was not a terribly deep crop, with Brown being the one name that jumped out as a no-brainer. There wasn't too much discussion about Liriano's inclusion, but there was pause when it came to that third outfield spot. It ended up being a choice of ceiling vs. certitude and the GM was weighing which to go with.
"We like Peguero's tools, but the lack of discipline concerns us," he said. "[The Rockies'] Charlie Blackmon would be a safer bet."
Blackmon wasn't the only Rockies outfielder to be mentioned, as Tim Wheeler's name also came up in conversation.
Most teams would love to have the D-backs' pitching. The Padres' system, as evidenced by having four position players on this roster, is in pretty good shape. Overall in the division, the arms are up and the bats are down.
"The pitching stands out," the GM said. "It was harder to narrow down the pitching than the other position guys."