As the Arizona Diamondbacks continue their 2012 spring training preseason, fans of the 2011 NL West champs will note that at 4-9, the D-Backs aren't exactly tearing it up in the Cactus League.
For many teams, spring training is a time to give youngsters a chance—to see how organization prospects fare in a semi-MLB-caliber game.
The Texas Rangers' 3-8 record is not indicative of the two-time defending AL Champs' chances in 2012, and neither is the Diamondbacks' early losing streak.
The Diamondbacks have many exciting prospects waiting in the wings at Triple-A and even below, including some youngsters who received spring training invites this year to show the big-league club their capabilities.
There is a reason coaches sit outside of the dugout during spring training. Separated from the players, coaches can freely discuss performances and especially those young prospects who could become the next Paul Goldschmidt.
Including some spring training invitees and some still waiting for that March call-up opportunity, these are the Diamondbacks' 10 prospects most likely to have a real impact on the MLB stage by 2015.
At 21 years old, Trevor Bauer picked up his first spring training invite in 2012 and has made three appearances, including two starts in which he is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and seven strikeouts in exactly 7.0 innings pitched. His WHIP is 0.86.
Bauer played his 2011 season at Visalia of the Single-A Advanced California league, spotlighted by a stint with Double-A Mobile.
The D-Backs organization is hoping Bauer has the stuff to be the next Ian Kennedy circa 2011, and judging by his performance with the big-league club this spring, Bauer could easily make an MLB difference by 2015 if not much sooner.
An unfortunate victim of a broken hand last year, pitcher Charles Brewer is still finding his groove as he gets back into the swing of things during the D-Backs 2012 spring training; the fact that the club has kept him in spring training this long should be taken as a positive sign.
If this 2011 AFL Rising Star is able to fully recover and continue his pitching development, Brewer could see MLB action as a rotation or bullpen regular by 2015.
After being named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star with the Angels in 2010, Corbin switched affiliations to Arizona's Single-A Visalia franchise before being promoted to Double-A Mobile in 2011.
Corbin is a career 4.00 pitcher in the minors, though he has dutifully pitched seven innings for Arizona during spring training in 2011 and 2012, surrendering just one run while striking out seven.
A three-time Southern League pitcher of the week in 2011 and a Southern Mid-Season All-Star last year, Corbin is well on his way toward a 2014 or 2015 MLB arrival.
First baseman Matt Davidson has climbed from Short-A in 2009 to Advanced-A in 2011, taking time to develop his power numbers, increasing his RBI count to 106 in 2011 from 90 in 2010 and 28 in 2009, when his season was about half as long as it was last year.
With the rookie Paul Goldschmidt representing the D-Backs' youth movement at first base, it is fortunate Davidson also has experience at the hot corner.
His 2012 spring training stats are better than his first go-around in 2011, too—his .267 batting average is exactly a .100 improvement over his 2011 figure, while his 2012 OPS of .686 is more than double his 2011 mark.
Davidson is a slow-but-steady candidate to make the bigs in 2015, and having been named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star two years running, he clearly hasn't lost anything by staying at Single-A a little longer.
A three-time All-Star during his varied tenures of minor-league service, 23-year-old right fielder Adam Eaton holds a career .340 average in the minors with a .956 OPS, 17 HR and 104 RBI in 682 at-bats.
Eaton has room for improvement, batting just .143 with three hits in his 21 at-bats (all singles) during spring training 2012. However, this is a skill Eaton can continue work on at the minor-league level, as the Diamondbacks do not have a pressing need whatsoever for a new right fielder.
Whether Eaton stays or leaves the organization is irrelevant; he has the potential to break out when he arrives at the MLB level in a few years, no matter where he plays.
At 25 years old, Wade Miley is a starting pitcher on the verge of making it big, but he will need just a little more fine-tuning at Triple-A Reno to perfect the formula.
Miley holds a career 3.69 ERA in the minors, with 328 strikeouts in 422.1 innings pitched. With a batting average against of .264, Miley needs to find a pitch or two to separate himself from the rest of the pack.
If he is able to do so, Miley could have a real impact on MLB in 2012 or 2013.
Shortstop Chris Owings is gradually climbing the minor-league ladder, having spent 2009 in the rookie league, followed by a 2010 stop-off at Single-A full season and a trip to the Single-A Advanced league on Visalia of the California league.
Though Owings impressed most during rookie ball, his spring training stats in 2012 are superb, going five-for-11 with a home run and a 1.227 OPS.
With a minor-league career OPS of .704, Owings is in prime position to develop his strength and grow into a fine young MLB ballplayer by 2015.
Allen Lorenz "A.J." Pollock, 25, one of the more experienced prospects, who still stands a solid shot at a pre-2015 MLB breakout after missing the 2010 minor-league season with a severe elbow injury.
Though he played Single-A ball in 2009 before his absence, Pollock returned to the organization in 2011 at Double-A Mobile, where he proceeded to hit .307 with eight home runs, 73 RBI and 36 stolen bases.
In 2009, Pollock had hit just .271 at the lower level with three homers.
Though Pollock's strength still can stand to improve, he was named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2011 after being named to both the Southern mid and postseason All-Star teams.
After seeing his first MLB regular-season action in 2011, throwing 33 games in relief, the Diamondbacks should keep an eye on this Triple-A Reno-to-MLB-Phoenix commuter.
Shaw put up a 2.54 ERA with the big-league club last year, striking out 24 in 28.1 innings of work, and holding the opposition to a .273 batting average.
Shaw could use more fine-tuning at the Triple-A level, but when he is ready to return—either in 2012 or 2013—he has the potential to go far.
Pitcher Tyler Skaggs first lit up D-Backs spring training in 2011, pitching six shutout innings over two relief appearances, picking up wins both times out.
At the minor-league level, Skaggs is a career 3.04 ERA pitcher over 266.2 innings thrown since 2009. His 313 strikeouts during that time suggest an overpowering performance, though Skaggs has recently been bothered by pain in his left shoulder, which is always a problem for a left-handed pitcher.
Skaggs last pitched on Wednesday, shutting down the L.A. Angels during a perfect two innings thrown. Ever efficient, Skaggs completed that task using just nine pitches.