When we rank prospects
here at FutureBacks.com, we do consider organizational depth. A
fantastic prospect won't ever get a chance to make his mark if he's stuck behind
young studs. This became quite apparent when we ranked
Chris Carter (of Stanford) at #9 last year, in part because we had heard
whispers that either Conor Jackson or Chad Tracy would be traded to make room
Well, Tracy and Jackson are still here but Carter is not. Batting .324
with 60 extra base hits in the PCL did Carter little good, as he is now stuck
behind David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis in Boston. He will become a free
agent after the 2009 season, but at that time, he will be 27 years old with
little big league experience under his belt. He may never get a fair
chance to display his obvious hitting talent at he major league level.
This teaches us two things: 1. Do not rank prospects in a vacuum.
2. Defensive versatility is key.
Hankerd could become
an offensive force
When we ranked Cyle Hankerd at #11 and Gerardo Parra at #16 in early
December, we weren't implying that they weren't top-notch prospects. We
simply worried that they wouldn't get the opportunity to succeed in the
organization most stocked with young outfield talent in all of baseball.
That no longer describes the Arizona Diamondbacks. With Carlos Gonzalez and
Aaron Cunningham gone to Oakland, there are suddenly opportunities in the Diamondbacks
outfield. At the very least, Eric Byrnes will depart after the 2010
season. At most, Chris Young never learns to hit a curveball, Justin Upton
needs more time to develop, and Byrnes plummets back to Earth sooner than anticipated.
Hankerd and Parra can both provide a boost if any of these doomsday scenarios
occur. If disaster befalls the organization prior to 2010, however, there
could be trouble. Hankerd won't be ready before then,
even with the advanced instruction he received at USC. Parra is almost a
year behind Hankerd. An open outfield spot in 2008 or 2009 would go to Alex
Romero, whom scouts adore, but who has been a mostly empty-average hitter in his
six-year minor league career.
Chris Rahl could also factor in such a scenario, but he's coming off a down
year. The other option is Javier Brito, whose best position is first base.
Brito led the Southern League in both batting average and on-base percentage
last year. His bat may force his way into the big leagues one way or
another, but unlike Romero and Rahl, Brito is not an option in centerfield.
Long term, however, Hankerd and Parra are the guys to watch. Hankerd
has done nothing but hit since being drafted in the the third round of the 2006
draft. Literally. He's driven in 115 runs in 667 at bats, but has
often proven clumsy in the field and on the base paths. He's good enough
to play left field, but would wield a below-average arm in right. In
contrast, Parra has the best outfield range in the organization, and a good
enough gun for right field.
The reason Hankerd ranked ahead of Parra before the Haren trade is simple: if
one of these two was going to have hit enough to force his way into a crowded
outfield it would have been Hankerd. But with Gonzalez and Cunningham gone
- both of whom could play any outfield position - that ability to play all three
outfield spots at a high level becomes a premium.
Remember when we said
that versatility was key? Parra has it, both in the field and on offense.
He can drive in runs or set the table. If he develops more power and plate
patience, Parra will blossom into a formidable player indeed.
New Outfield Rankings:
1. Gerardo Parra 2. Cyle Hankerd 3. Tyrell Worthington 4. Alexander Romero 5. Chris Rahl
* If we considered Javier Brito, primarily a first baseman, as an outfielder,
he would rank between Hankerd and Worthington.
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comments for Keith Glab to
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