Re-Ranking the Top 10 Pitching Prospects in Arizona Diamondbacks' System
From former Diamondbacks great Randy Johnson to Arizona's 2001 World Series cataclysm Byung-Hun Kim, every pitcher and position player alike begins his career as a prospect.
During that vital time in the minor leagues, from Single-A Rookie Ball to AAA, prospects test their might with the hope of making it to the big leagues.
Along the way, some excel on an accelerated path, while others flounder or find themselves falling backwards. For others, their journey is put on hold by an untimely injury or leave.
For this reason, any given organization's ranking of prospects is in constant flux. As the calendar turns to June, these are the D-Backs' top 10 pitching prospects.
No. 10: Charles Brewer
Charles Brewer is a pitcher who has truly worked his way into Triple-A. Since being selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 18th round of the 2006 draft, Brewer has seen himself fall out of baseball only to be saved by the D-Backs franchise during the 2009 draft.
With a 3.06 ERA during four minor league seasons, Brewer has struggled to find his command in the upper echelons of minor league ball. His Triple-A WHIP of 1.984 is less than a tenth of a point shy of being double his Rookie Ball WHIP of 1.058.
If Brewer is able to improve in Triple-A Reno, he will undoubtedly ascend from the 10 spot. Until then, he rounds out the top prospects in Arizona.
No. 9: Barry Enright
Is time running out for Barry Enright?
At 26-years-old, Enright is an older prospect, and his progress has been rather hit-and-miss. With Double-A Mobile in 2010, Enright picked up a 2.88 ERA and 1.025 WHIP, only to see his ERA explode to 5.21 with a 1.378 WHIP in Triple-A one year later.
Though his 2012 figures appear to be an improvement over 2011, only time will tell whether Enright has what it takes to stay as a major leaguer.
No. 8: Yonata Ortega
His 6' 1", 220-pound physique might remind you of Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen, yet Ortega has been truly trying to finesse his out-of-the-bullpen role, modulating finishing games with late-inning relief. In 2012, he finished 12 of the 17 games he appeared at in Mobile, while in 2011, he finished just six of 14 games at Mobile.
However, as a Visalia pitcher in 2011, Ortega appeared in 34 games, finishing nearly all (31) of them.
With a fluctuating WHIP (it was 1.019 in 2011 and is 1.857 in 2012) and strikeouts-per-nine rate hovering around 9.0, Ortega simply has to develop his ability to keep runners off the base paths and he will increase his stock in the prospect ranks.
No. 7: Bryan Shaw
Prospect Bryan Shaw broke into the big leagues last season, posting a 2.54 ERA in 33 games and 28.1 innings of relief.
Since then, he has improved his opposing batting average from .273 to .239 and his WHIP from 1.34 to 1.16. This suggests his ERA decline to 3.92 might be circumstantial, likely bearing some relation to the Diamondbacks' overall downturn from 2011 to 2012.
No. 6: David Holmberg
After joining Arizona's organization in Missoula in 2010, Holmberg advanced through the ranks to Advanced-A Visalia. He opened his 2012 season there with a 6-3 record, 3.13 ERA and sizzling 1.026 WHIP.
Holmberg's strikeouts-to-innings ratio is barely above one-to-one, yet the 6' 4" Port Charlotte native has taken a 4-7 Rookie Ball record and transformed a 4.36 ERA into a 2.39 ERA in Single-A South Bend.
With continued improvement, Holmberg could prove to be a very underrated prospect.
No. 5: Patrick Corbin
Patrick Corbin has had a rough go as of late, but still finds himself a promising prospect. What gives?
Though Corbin holds a 2-3 record with a 5.27 ERA in the bigs, his 2012 minor league stats are considerably more consistent with that of a touted prospect. With a 3-1 record, 2.84 ERA and .243 opposing batting average, Corbin simply needs more time at the minor league level before resurfacing at Chase Field.
No. 4: Wade Miley
Power and player rankings can be extremely variable given recent trends and performances, and in the case of the Diamondbacks' hurler Wade Miley, this is especially true.
As a prospect working on his first full-time MLB season, Miley has been outstanding: a 6-1 record to complement a 2.41 ERA and .241 batting average against.
Pitching at least six innings in six of his seven starts this year, Miley has given the D-Backs something they had been otherwise lacking in the starting pitching department—quality starts. Of Miley's outings this season, five have have been quality starts.
No. 3: Archie Bradley
19-year-old Archie Bradley was rated the No. 25 prospect by Baseball America in advance of the 2012 season, and his statistics haven't exactly disappointed.
Bradley has retired 8.6 batters for every nine innings pitched, compiling a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.68, and surrendering just two homers in 54.1 IP at Single-A South Bend.
Bradley may be experiencing the first slump of his professional career, but with the way he has been pitching, we can expect a rebound shortly.
No. 2: Andrew Chafin
21-year-old Andrew Chafin was selected by Arizona in the 1st round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, pitching just one inning during the 2001 Rookie season before advancing to Advanced-A Visalia in 2012.
At Kent State, Chafin threw a phenomenal 1.26 ERA during his freshman year, with a 4-1 record and 55 strikeouts in just 35.2 innings of work.
With 77 strikeouts in just 58.2 innings at Visalia, Chafin clearly hasn't lost his touch, even after a 2010 redshirt due to an arm injury.
No. 1: Trevor Bauer
After putting up a 2.57 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in three 2012 spring training appearances, prospect Trevor Bauer was sent back to the minor leagues to hone his craft.
Selected in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft, Bauer has long been considered Arizona's top pitching prospect. His 9-3 overall record belies Bauer's dominating journey that has seen his Triple-A Reno WHIP fall to 0.846.
As I previously wrote, Bauer is just about ready for the next level, and the Diamondbacks would be wise to expose him to MLB if the club is intent on a playoff run this season.