D-backs' 2010 organization review
In 2009, the Arizona Diamondbacks had five picks in the first 45 selections of the First-Year Player Draft, and there was hope some of those top picks would lead the way, perhaps quickly, through the system.
It did indeed turn out that some 2009 draftees did shine in the Arizona system this past season, though it wasn't the top picks who stood out. First-rounder A.J. Pollock missed the year, but eighth-rounder Paul Goldschmidt led the system in a host of offensive categories. High school picks Bobby Borchering and Matt Davidson had solid first full seasons as well.
On the mound, top pitching draftee Mike Belfiore was OK, but not great, in his first year, while 12th-rounder Charles Brewer earned a promotion in his full-season debut. There's no doubt that those extra picks, along with acquisitions like those made in the Dan Haren trade (Tyler Skaggs really stood out during instructional-league play), added some depth to the D-backs system.
"I think things went exceptionally well," Arizona farm director Mike Berger said. "We stayed healthy to a large degree, though losing Pollock out of Spring Training really hurt. Fortunately, he's healthy.
That might quicken the timetable for some of them -- Goldschmidt, Ryan Wheeler and perhaps Marc Krauss -- but those hoping that the farm system can provide a quick turnaround for a Major League club that lost 97 games in 2010 might have to be a bit patient. The D-backs did have three affiliates finish with winning seasons, but it might be another year before the impact is truly felt up top.
"I don't know if it's there in 2011, but I think 2012 is when you'll really get excited about this current group," Berger said. "I think that's when you'll start to look at these guys. But I'm pleased with the performance of so many of them."
Berger believes there will be more of the same from this group of prospects and others, which might help make up for the lack of a first-round pick this past June (Arizona didn't sign top pick Barret Loux after he failed his physical). The other variable the system might have to deal with is a change in upper management. Any time a new general manager comes into an organization, there's bound to be some transition, though Berger hasn't really concerned himself with what Kevin Towers' arrival will mean.
"No thoughts," Berger said, honestly. "I'm not dodging the question. It's just business as usual. We've been focusing on these players."
MLB.com's preseason picks
A.J. Pollock, OF: The thinking was that the advanced college hitter would pick up where he left off from his solid summer debut in 2009. An elbow fracture in Spring Training ended the 2009 first-rounder's first full season before it started, though he's healthy now and will go to make up for some lost time in the Arizona Fall League.
Mike Belfiore, LHP: Belfiore mostly relieved in college, but with a four-pitch aresenal, the Diamondbacks were hopeful he could have a career as a starter. He wasn't terrible in his first full season, pitching all year with South Bend and finishing with a 3.99 ERA. But a 3-10 record and .277 batting average against does not a Pitcher of the Year make.
MLB.com's postseason selections
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B: The Diamondbacks jumped the 2009 eighth-round pick up to the Class A Advanced California League in his first full season and he responded by missing out on an organizational triple crown by one percentage point in batting average (.314, 35 HR, 108 RBIs). He finished tied for third in the Minors in homers, sixth in RBIs and ninth in OPS.
Charles Brewer, RHP: The 2009 12th-rounder out of UCLA started in South Bend but finished it in Visalia with Goldschmidt and more than held his own in the hitting-friendly California League. Combined, he finished with a 2.45 ERA and 153 strikeouts, both tops in the organization. He only walked 35 in 150 2/3 innings while keeping hitters in two leagues to a combined .229 average.