The way it's been explained to me, FutureBacks.com is all about the minors,
about the prospects, the kids who will help the Diamondbacks in the future,
hence, FutureBacks. So with all due respect to Mr. Merchant, Andy Green is not the future of the franchise. At 28 years old, with trips to
the Majors in both of the last two years, Andy Green is a fringe Major Leaguer.
I believe he has the talent to stick, likely as a utility guy, but he's not a
star in the making, not someone who could become a household name.
The Diamondbacks have some players like that. Have some guys who could
be All Stars, who could even become Hall of Fame caliber players. Conor Jackson looks like he'll be platooning for one more season, and then take over
at first base, and I'd give you even money that he'll win at least one batting
title before his time is done. Carlos Quentin is a pure hitter, likewise
Chris Carter has emerged as a potential home run machine. In the lower
levels Carlos Gonzales is so much better than any 20 year old should be it's
almost scary and Cesar Nicolas has shown a combination of power, average, and
clutch abilities that make him look like one of the brightest rising stars in
Still, there's one name that we haven't mentioned, and I wouldn't be
surprised if this is the longest FutureBacks has gone without mentioning his
name in more than a year.
Stephen Drew is the Position Player Prospect of the Year.
From the moment he fell to #15 in the 2004 draft, and the Diamondbacks
scooped him up, signability issues and all, he's been at the forefront of
virtually every Diamondback fan's, front office official's, coach's, and
"I'm excited just to watch him first hand," said Triple-A Sidewinders Manager
Chip Hale of Drew, and all the young shortstop was going to do was some casual
workouts in Tucson, preparing for the Arizona Fall League.
"He's going to have plenty of time to showcase himself in the AFL," says
Director of Scouting Mike Rizzo, "but we expect to see big things from him
The holdout only seemed to raise the expectations. For nearly a year we
(and by 'we' I mean fans, reporters, the front office, and virtually all of
minor league baseball) held our breath. Would he sign? For how much?
Could he justify it with his play? Finally, just minutes before the
Diamondbacks would have lost the rights to him, and he would have re-entered the
draft pool, Drew signed, and the Diamondbacks assigned him to Hi-A Lancaster in
the California League. It wasn't really a stretch for a player who was
universally understood to have the best tools of any position player in the 2004
draft. Still, despite spending a month with the Independent League's
Camden Riversharks, he hadn't played baseball at that high a level before, and
one had to wonder how long it would take him to get in the groove.
Apparently not long at all.
In his very first game in the Diamondbacks organization Drew went 2-3 with
two walks and two runs scored. It took five games for him to hit his first
home run, and then he hit a second the next night. He reeled off an 18
game hitting streak during his first month. He had a four games stretch in
there where he went 7-17 with a double, five homers, and 10 RBI. He made
it look effortless, he made it look like he was a six year veteran who was in
Lancaster for a quick rehab tune up.
By the time his stint at Hi-A was done, Drew had put virtually all doubters
to rest. In 149 at bats he hit .389, half of his 58 hits went for extra
bases, including 10 homers. He drove in 39 and scored 33 times in 38
games. He tweaked his hamstring just a week into his time in Lancaster, so
the speed numbers were down a little, but you don't have to run hard when the
ball is leaving the park.
"You watch a guy like that hit, and he just makes it look so easy, like
there's nothing to it," Tennessee Smokies left hander Clint Goocher said of
This is a prospect, a true, real, honest to goodness prospect.
But don't expect us to be able to call him that for long. Drew will go
to the Arizona Fall League, and if he continues to dominate there he'll come
into Spring Training as one of the top candidates to start at shortstop for the
Diamondbacks. At that point he'll stop being a candidate for Top Prospect,
and start being a candidate for Rookie of the Year. He'll immediately
become an All Star candidate, and his five tools make him as good a bet as any
rookie to eventually end up in the Hall of Fame.
So in my first article for FutureBacks.com I'll simply say this, Stephen Drew
is the Position Player of the Year. Not just for what he did, but what he
might do. We're about prospects here, and Drew is the very definition of
prospect. If there was such a thing as a 'sure thing' in Minor League
Baseball Drew would be it.