Since Goldstein's Future Shock columns over at Baseball Prospectus cover the top prospects from every team, he is a great analyst to gauge the D-backs' prospects in relation to what other organizations have. So naturally, our interview begins on that note.
FutureBacks: After being pretty close to depleted a couple of years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system appears to be on the rebound. Approximately where do they rank among the 30 MLB organizations now?
Kevin Goldstein: Well, in some ways, there was nowhere to go but up, as I had them 29th coming into the year. I still don't think it's a very good system, but if you are an optimist, you can look at what's there and say there are players who COULD move forward and help the system. I haven't done all of my rankings yet, so I don't know where they'll rank, but my gut says it will be below the mid-point.
FB: New GM Kevin Towers has completely overhauled the Scouting and Player Development departments in the front office. Do you anticipate major changes to the Diamondbacks' drafting or developmental philosophies as a result?
KG: I think so. Obviously, the 2010 draft was a bit of a disaster, but with the compensation pick, Arizona has two of the first seven picks in June, which could really change the entire system in what is a very strong draft. Philosophies are one thing, and I do think they'll be different, but they'll also need buy-in from ownership to spend the money.
FB: Did the Diamondbacks get enough in return for Dan Haren?
KG: Maybe? It's a fun question, and one can look at the return for Haren and say to themselves, "that's it?" But if that was what the market was offering, then that was the fair value. Guys like Tyler Skaggs COULD be very good, but obviously there is risk involved.
FB: Several of the D-backs' top prospects were injured for a large portion of the year, including Jarrod Parker, Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock, and Trevor Harden. How do you factor such injuries into your prospect evaluations?
KG: It depends on the injury, really. With guys like Owings (foot) and Pollock (elbow), it's not the kind of injuries that should effect them in the future, so other than the missed development time, it's not a big concern. Parker obviously injured his throwing arm, but the team was thrilled with his rehab and how good he looked in the instructional league.
FB: Three prospects we are pretty high on here at FutureBacks - Ryan Wheeler, Scottie Allen, and Collin Cowgill - didn't get a mention in your recent article detailing Arizona's top prospects. What do they each lack in your estimation?
KG: Wheeler was playing third base in deference to Paul Goldschmidt, but he's bad there and with first base a more natural position, he just doesn't have enough bat. Allen obviously is a Yankee now, but he's not especially projectable, nor does he have much now stuff. When all you can get is a soon-to-be 28 year old minor league first baseman for him, you can see where his value lies. It's hard to bet against Cowgill, as he definitely gets the most out of his limited skill set, but it's impossible to see him as anything more than a bench outfielder in the end.
FB: Most of Arizona's minor league talent spent the 2010 season in the lower levels of the organization, but which Diamondbacks prospects are closest to making an impact in the majors?
KG: If Parker can stay healthy and is as good as he looked this fall, he could get there in late-2011, and Wade Miley is a nice sleeper to get there at some point this year as well. But you are right, most of their top prospects are a ways away still.
FB: After netting seven of the first 64 players selected in the 2009 draft, the Diamondbacks signed just one of the first 64 players taken in the 2010 draft. Did Arizona find any sleepers to help offset their lighter haul this year?
KG: Like I said before, it was a bit of a disaster. J.R. Bradley and Robby Rowland are both guys with the raw tools for a step forward at least. As far as sleepers go, you can find some scouts who believe in what Adam Eaton did at Missoula.
KG: Or Keon Broxton. He's very raw, and he might not work out, but get excited anyway. Smart teams take these kind of players (Worthington too), because when they work out, this is where stars come from. They're lottery tickets for sure, but the payoff is significant and I think it's a great way to spend in the draft.
FB: The Diamondbacks have been pretty active on the international scene over the past year or so. Which of their recent international signings are most intriguing to you?
KG: Wagner Mateo is certainly the most intriguing, both for his talent and his background. If he can be anything close to the player the Cardinals signed and then unsigned, he could be a steal.
FB: What Diamondbacks prospect's 2010 performance was the biggest disappointment and which was the most pleasant surprise?
KG: For surprise, I'm going to take an out-of-nowhere guy and say Raul Navarro. He was barely on the radar coming into the year, but he can hit and he has some solid defensive skills as well. I expect him to be on the Top 11 next year. I think the biggest disappointment was Mike Belfiore, who I saw in person more than once, and just on a pure stuff level was nowhere close to the guy I saw at Boston College.
We thank Kevin for taking the time to share his insights on Arizona's farm system. Click here for his article index.
Are you a full member of FutureBacks.com? If not, then you are missing out on the top Diamondbacks coverage we provide to our premium members, as well as full access to over 400 other Scout.com sites. Join us today!