Diamondbacks prospects flourished in 2006
Callups overshadowed successful years by other players
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- As a whole, the Diamondbacks' Minor League system received plenty of attention in 2006, but while most of focus was on guys like Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Alberto Callaspo and Justin Upton, there were plenty of other players that performed well.
Here's what D-backs farm director A.J. Hinch had to say when asked to point out some players who may have flown under the radar at each level:
The ability for the team as a whole to respond to losing such great players like Quentin, Drew and Miguel Montero was impressive. A couple of guys that don't get a lot of attention are infielder Brian Barden (.298, 35 2B, 16 HR, 96 RBIs) and first baseman Chris Carter (.301, 30 2B, 19 HR, 97 RBIs). They're two guys that just kind of continued to be strong forces in the lineup throughout the year.
You look at their numbers and they are very impressive, but because of the numbers put up by some others, they tend to get lost. Whereas if you pluck them and put them in any of the other Triple-A places, it stands out a little more. While everyone kept getting promoted they kept hitting doubles and homers.
Micah Owings got a lot of the attention on the pitching side, but right-hander Dustin Nippert (13-8, 4.87 ERA, 130-52 strikeout-to-walk-ratio) had a solid year, even if the numbers don't jump out at you. He stayed on course. He had some dominant starts at the end, and how you finish is really important. He finished strong and I think he's prepared to compete for one of the rotation spots in the big leagues next spring.
Everyone was pulling for lefty Mike Bacsik (11-0, 2.79 ERA) at the end because he had put together such a good year.
They get lost behind Callaspo, Drew and Barden, but second baseman Danny Richar (.292, 25 2B, 8 HR, 42 RBIs) and shortstop Alberto Gonzalez (.290, 20 2B, 6 HR, 50 RBIs) are probably about as exciting a middle infield combo that you can find at Double-A. They impact the game offensively and defensively.
On that team they got a lot of attention, but within our whole group of prospects they tend to get overlooked. Those two just kind of continued to do their thing. Richar hit .300 all year and Gonzalez played stellar defense and came around after a slow start. The reason those guys didn't get to Triple-A sooner was because of the presence of the Drews, Callaspos and guys like that.
On the pitching front, right-handers Russ Ohlendorf (10-8, 3.29 ERA) and Steven Jackson (8-11, 2.65 ERA) both took that challenge of skipping a level and ran with it. Jackson finished second in the league in ERA and Ohlendorf was their most consistent and durable starter throwing 180 innings, which in the Minor Leagues means he's a horse.
Those two made the biggest leaps forward and they did it while skipping levels, which is a bigger deal than a lot of people realize. The hardest jump is from Class A ball to Double-A ball, and combine that with the fact that they did it from the lowest A ball, and it makes for a very solid year for those guys.
Class A Advanced Lancaster:
At the beginning of the season, all the talk was about Mark Reynolds, but the lone All-Star was Chris Rahl (.327, 44 2B, 8 3B, 7 HR, 50 RBIs) who just kept hitting and hitting and hitting. He was learning in center field, because he hadn't played a lot of outfield. He was an infielder in college and he got moved in his first year of pro ball. He never really had that lull, he just continued to play well. In the past, it was all about Carlos Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds.
Second baseman Emelio Bonifacio (.321, 35 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 50 RBIs) would have seen Double-A if it hadn't been for Richar, who would have seen Triple-A if it hadn't been for Callaspo. I couldn't get these guys out of these leagues. He has game-changing skills. He can bunt, he can hit, he can run and he's an above average defender.
Class A South Bend:
It was all about Upton, who was the only person that anyone wanted to talk about, but if you look past him there were some other guys that had good years.
Right-handed pitcher Kyler Newby (6-1, 2.05 ERA) was one of them. If you look at his line, he has impressive strikeouts-to-innings numbers (64 to 44) and he does it with some deception, able to trick guys with a decent fastball. He was a guy that didn't even start the year there and yet wound up being their most consistent closer (11 saves).
One of the more intriguing guys is outfielder Leyson Septimo (.251, 22 2B, six HR, 51 RBIs) who had a decent year playing over here at 20 years old. He was over here from the Dominican Republic for the second time in his life, playing previously in South Bend. I think he played like most young players -- a good month, a bad month and then an OK month, but I think he opened enough eyes to where he's on the map.
Class A Short-Season Yakima:
Right-hander Cesar Valdez, a 21-year-old Dominican pitcher, had a 3.15 ERA and threw a couple of complete games. He did enough to open my eyes and be one to watch in Spring Training.
Winning a Pioneer League championship is a nice introduction to pro ball. I mean, in Missoula, they're playing in front of 2,000 people, which may not seem like a lot unless you're a kid in pro ball that is used to playing in front of 200. They're all under the radar because we hadn't seen any of them. Right-hander Dan Stange (5-2, 4.25 ERA, 13 saves) was the closer on a championship team and outfielder Dan Perales (.275, seven HR, 39 RBIs) led them in hitting.
http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/app/ ... &fext=.jsp