Around the MinorsSeptember 03, 2008
Rating the Prospects: NL West
By Marc Hulet

Prospect rating season is just about upon us with the Minor League Baseball season all but over and we are now into playoffs in most leagues. Over the next five weeks (one division a week), with your help, I am going to pick the Top 15 prospects in each organization's stable.

After that, the next six weeks will be devoted to ranking those prospects that people helped choose in the comments section of the articles. Things to consider when choosing the prospects are 1) tools, 2) statistics, 3) history, and 4) level of competition/age. The players also must still be rookie eligible, which means pitchers cannot have exceed 50 big league innings and hitters cannot have exceeded 130 at-bats at the MLB level.

Feel free to also comment on who you think is the best prospect in the division, as well as which team has the best minor league system. The players listed below are in no particular order and these are just working/brainstorming lists.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks
The Pitchers: Max Scherzer (Triple-A, right-hander), Jarrod Parker (A-ball, right-hander), Matt Torra (Triple-A, right-hander), Hector Ambriz (Double-A, right-hander), Brooks Brown (Double-A, right-hander), Cesar Valdez (Double-A, right-hander), Barry Enright (High-A, right-hander), Kyler Newby (High-A, right-hander), Wes Roemer, Leyson Septimo (High-A, left-hander), Daniel Stange (High-A, right-hander), Daniel Schlereth (A-ball, right-hander), Wade Miley (Short season, left-hander)

The Hitters: Gerardo Parra (High-A, outfielder), Reynaldo Navarro (Short season, shortstop), Ed Easley (High-A, catcher), Pedro Ciriaco (High-A, shortstop), Mark Hallberg (High-A, infielder), Pete Clifford (High-A, outfielder), Evan Frey (High-A, outfielder), Collin Cowgill (A-ball, outfielder)

Comments: I had forgotten how bad the Arizona system has gotten since the organization traded away most of its promising players, albeit to acquire some pretty good players like Adam Dunn and Danny Haren. The pitching certainly looks stronger than the offence, although there are a lot of pitchers that appear to be future No. 4 or 5 starters. There don't seem to be any impact bats anywhere near the top of the system (I still can't believe how badly Arizona gave Carlos Quentin away, but I guess that makes up for stealing Chris Young).

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Pitchers: Scott Elbert (Double-A, left-hander), Chris Withrow (High-A, right-hander), James McDonald (Triple-A, right-hander), Josh Wall (High-A, right-hander), James Adkins (Double-A, left-hander), Ethan Martin (Rookie, right-hander), Josh Lindblom (Double-A, right-hander), Travis Schlichting (Double-A, right-hander), Victor Garate (High-A, left-hander), Steve Johnson (High-A, right-hander), Geison Aguasviva (Rookie, left-hander), Cole St. Clair (Rookie, right-hander), Michael Watt (Rookie, left-hander)

The Hitters: Pedro Baez (A-ball, third baseman), Josh Bell (High-A, third baseman), Ivan DeJesus(Double-A, shortstop), Andrew Lambo (Double-A, outfielder), Lucas May (Double-A, catcher), Xavier Paul (Triple-A, outfielder), Kyle Russell (Rookie, outfielder), Austin Gallagher (High-A, third baseman), Jamie Pedroza (High-A, shortstop), Trayvon Robinson (High-A, outfielder),

Comments: The Dodgers continue to have a nice collection of raw, toolsy players, although the system is not as deep as it has been in recent years. The organization is not afraid to promote young, promising players, rather than having them sit around dominating inferior leagues all season (San Fran, can you hear me?). It seems that every time a LAD prospect falters, two more sleepers come to the forefront.

Colorado Rockies
The Pitchers: Casey Weathers (Double-A, right-hander), Brandon Hynick (Double-A, right-hander), Pedro Strop (Double-A, right-hander), Chaz Roe (Double-A, right-hander), Juan Morillo (Triple-A, right-hander), Jhoulys Chacin (High-A, right-hander), Christian Friedrich (A-ball, right-hander), Xavier Cedeno (Double-A, left-hander), Keith Weiser (Double-A, left-hander), Aneury Rodriguez (High-A, right-hander), Esmil Rogers (High-A, right-hander)

The Hitters: Dexter Fowler (Double-A, outfielder), Hector Gomez (High-A, shortstop), Chris Nelson (Double-A, shortstop), Michael McKenry (High-A, catcher), Jonathan Herrera (Triple-A, shortstop), Corey Wimberly (Double-A, second baseman), Eric Young Jr. (Double-A, second base), Daniel Carte (Double-A, outfielder), Daniel Mayora (High-A, shortstop),

Comments: The Rockies have a real glut of prospects at Double-A, both on the mound and in the field. There are some intriguing speedsters in the system but a lot of them appear to be headed to bench roles at the MLB level. Fowler, though, looks like a serious prospect and could be playing full-time in Colorado as soon as 2009. Keep an eye on Jhoulys Chacin and Aneury Rodriguez.

San Francisco Giants
The Pitchers: Tim Alderson (High-A, right-hander), Madison Bumgarner (A-ball, left-hander), Henry Sosa (A-ball, right-hander), Clayton Tanner (High-A, right-hander), Kelvin Pichardo (Double-A, right-hander), Ben Snyder (Double-A, left-hander), Jesse English (High-A, left-hander), Waldis Joaquin (High-A, right-hander), Kevin Pucetas (High-A, right-hander)

The Hitters: Buster Posey (Short season, catcher), Conor Gillaspie (Short season, third baseman), Brandon Crawford (Short season, shortstop), Roger Kieschnick (NA, outfielder), Angel Villalona (High-A, first baseman), Nick Noonan (A-ball, second base), Wendell Fairley (Rookie, outfielder), Brian Horwitz (Triple-A, outfielder), Nate Schierholtz (Triple-A, outfielder),

Comments: Knowing that they had stolen some amazing pitching prospects during the 2007 draft, the Giants concentrated on nabbing some interesting and advanced college hitters in 2008. The Giants' minor league system was horrible as recently as two years ago and has improved significantly in a short period of time. The depth is still lacking a bit, but there are some stars-in-the-making. I just wish the Giants promoted players a little more aggressively, rather than letting them dominate inferior competition for significant periods of time, which seemingly does nothing for a player's development.

San Diego Padres
The Pitchers: Matt Latos (Short season, right-hander), Wade LeBlanc (Triple-A, left-hander), Steve Garrison (Double-A, left-hander), Will Inman (Double-A, eight-hander), Nick Schmidt (Injured, left-hander), Matthew Buschmann (Double-A, right-hander), Ernesto Frieri (Double-A, right-hander), Jeremy Hefner (High-A, right-hander),

The Hitters: Allan Dykstra (High-A, first baseman), Jaff Decker (Short season, outfielder), James Darnell (Short season, third baseman), Logan Forsythe (Rookie, infielder), Blake Tekotte (Short season, outfielder), Cole Figueroa (Short season, second baseman), Matt Antonelli (Triple-A, second base), Cedric Hunter (High-A, outfielder), Kyle Blanks (Double-A, first baseman), Yefri Carvajal (A-ball, outfielder), Kellen Kulbacki (High-A, outfielder), Will Venable, Drew Cumberland (A-ball, shortstop), Mitch Canham (High-A, catcher), Lance Zawadzki (Double-A, shortstop), Chad Huffman (Double-A, outfielder), Rayner Contreras (High-A, infielder), Eric Sogard (High-A, second baseman)

Comments: It's been a disappointing season for the San Diego Padres organization from top to bottom. A number of interesting prospects disappointed throughout the season and the club continues to be snake-bitten when it comes to first round draft picks. The organization's impact depth has been hurt by years of drafting "safe" college picks with lower ceilings. The pitching depth is especially sorry, while the hitting is starting to show signs of life.

Up Next: The AL Central


The Giants have been slow to move up the position players but not with pitchers - Lincecum, Sanchez, Accardo, various rookies this season, even Bumgarner, fresh from high school, was placed in low-A when many don't even make the Short Season Northwest League their first pro season, and Alderson, also fresh from high school, was placed in the California League (A-level), plus Henry Sosa leapt from instructional to low-A to A-ball (Cal League) last season.

I think the major reason has been that their offensive talent has not been that very good, not that they "dominate" a level then move up. If you look at most of the position players of significance, none of them had really done much if you examine their MLEs.

Still, what is wrong with what they did this season? They did move up Bowker to the majors from essentially AA last season, Burriss was in low-A ball at the end of last season but looks set in the majors for now, Rohlinger started the season in the California League, and the big kahuna of this season, Pablo Sandoval, made the leap from the California League to the Majors and he has mashed everywhere he has hit. Angel Villalona was only 17 and got placed in low-A.

Lewis and Schierholtz are probably who you are thinking did not move up when dominating a league, but their MLEs was good but not appreciably better than the vets already playing (about 800 OPS) ahead of them. When Lewis finally had a nice offensive year last year, he got moved up and has been up ever since.

Schierholtz arguably should have been the starting RF this season, but that's only if you look at the numbers. Most scouting reports I've seen said that he has flaws in his swing that would get exposed in the majors and that he could use more time in the minors to get that fixed.

Other than them, really, no other Giants position prospect has deserved a quick rise through the system.

Oh, and Frandsen also rose through the system relatively quickly as well, probably the only position player to rise so fast during the 2000's.

Overall, you are missing the biggest success this season, Pablo Sandoval. Following close would be Travis Ishikawa, who dominated AA then AAA and has been doing as expected in the majors (low BA, lots of K's, HR power, walks). However, they could amass 130 AB by the end of September, at least Sandoval should.

You also didn't mention Sergio Romo and Alex Hinshaw, still rookies per the definition. I would also include Rafael Rodriguez, who got $2.5M, and thus should be on your list as well.

Other than those, I think your list is pretty complete.

I don't understand how the D-Backs "stole Chris Young." Wasn't the deal basically Young for Javier Vazquez?

As a follow up, I researched the deal and it was El Duque, Luis Vizcaino, and Young for Vazquez. El Duque went to the Mets in 2006 a couple of months after the deal and Vizcaino went to the Yankees along with Randy Johnson I believe.

"It's been a disappointing season for the San Diego Padres organization from top to bottom."

What are you talking about?

Kellen Kulbacki, in his first full season of professional baseball is hitting combined: .304/.400/.540.

20 year old High School draftee Cedric Hunter is hitting .318/.362/.442 in High-A with excellent defense in CF

Eric Sogard (2B) led the ENTIRE organization in XBH (42 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR) until the season ended (.308/.394/.453)...

Kyle Blanks (1B) came on strong to finish the season .325/.404/.514 in a pitchers' park...

And don't get me started on the 6 hitters from the '08 draft Dykstra, Decker, Darnell, Forsythe, Tekotte, and Robinson...

And the pitchers have not been as bad as you think either.

Disappointing? The big league club? Yes, but the minors have done VERY well.

The Dodgers farm system might not be as deep as it has been but keep in mind the reason is because many of the top prospects are already up in majors and under team control for the next 4 to 5 years. If you look at it as a projection of what their team can look at over the next 5 to 8 years, surely it can be agreed that the Dodgers are substantially deep in young talent.

Currently 5 out of the 8 player positions are filled full-time as well as two spots on the staff and about half the bullpen. The plan would hopefully be to sign a good majority for the longterm and where it doesn't work out use the far to fill in the holes from within or through trades. A Free agent or two here or there rounds it out.

The Dodgers seem to be in excellent shape in young talent at the major league level. They are certain to have Martin, Loney, Ethier, and Kemp, and it appears that Blake DeWitt will be able to hold down either second or third base, depending on team needs. Martin can go to third if either of the Dodgers two top catching prospects is ready. Chin-lung Hu might or might not be ready to hit, but he has superb fielding numbers at shortstop, assuming that the Dodgers don't resign Furcal or even the far cheaper (for a reason) but rejuvenated Angel Berroa. Delwyn Young seems like a big league hitter and could play left or second, and Repko looks like he's finally over that horrendous muscle injury as well. So it appears the Dodgers could field an entire team of decent young talent before looking at Manny or Furcal, either of whom (healthy) would probably be the best player on the team while probably replacing the weakest player in the lineup.

The problem for the Dodgers will come in about 3 years, when Martin, Kemp, Loney, and Billingsley all will expect contracts in excess of $10M/year. But until then, this team looks good.