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D-backs '09 Draft class shines already

D-backs '09 Draft class shines already

Coming into the 2009 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks were well-aware that when it came to offensive depth, there just wasn't that much in the system.

It's not that they had never had a surplus of good young hitters. But over the past few years, most of them had made it to the big leagues (like homegrown prospects Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Conor Jackson, Miguel Montero and, most recently, Gerardo Parra) or been traded away.

This year, though, the club has appeared to have restocked that pool in just a matter of a few hours, as it took advantage of having eight of the first 100 picks in the Draft and used many of them to select and sign an impressive array of young position players.

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NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CHW | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

Among that crew are first-round picks third baseman Bobby Borchering (at No. 16), outfielder A.J. Pollock (No. 17), third baseman Matt Davidson (No. 35), shortstop Chris Owings (No. 41), outfielder Marc Krauss (No. 64) and outfielder Keon Broxton (No. 95) among the Top 100, along with potential standouts like shortstop David Nick (fourth round), first baseman Ryan Wheeler (fifth round) and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (eighth round), who was the lone short-season player to earn one of MLB.com's postseason honors for his organization.

"These players have the very real ability to become everyday Major League players," said Mike Berger, who took over as the club's director of player development, coincidentally, the day of the June Draft, after farm director A.J. Hinch was made the D-backs' manager.

"I don't know if they put the [Draft] board together with that preference for young position players, because I wasn't privy to the process," said Berger, who had a long tenure as a top scout with the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Montreal Expos among others. "But the way they put this group together speaks to the tremendous effort made by the scouting department."

When Berger got to watch the crew this fall in instructional league, what impressed him more than anything was seeing a legitimate prospect at every position.

"This was just a tremendous, tremendous Draft class," he said, adding that he expects most if not all of the players will open 2010 with full-season clubs, and some might skip past Class A South Bend.

Although Berger wasn't around in 2008 to be able to make the comparison one year later, he has been hearing about it from the field staff and coordinators who were.

Overall, the Arizona farm teams finished with a .476 composite winning percentage (372-409), 25th among the clubs, with Triple-A Reno (79-64) and short-season Missoula (40-36) over .500. The Missoula club finished runner-up to Orem in the Pioneer League championship series.

ORGANIZATIONAL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

MLB.com's Preseason Picks

Gerardo Parra, OF: We said before the season, "The club's top young hitter could continue to move quickly," and we were right on target. His quick start at Double-A Mobile, where he hit .361 in the first month, earned him a big league promotion, and he never looked back. He batted .290 with five homers and 60 RBIs and finished tied for eighth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Daniel Schlereth, LHP: The club's top pick out of Arizona in 2008, the closer prospect with the blazing fastball and power curve continued to develop on the mound in '09, including some time getting his feet wet in the big leagues, though he does maintain rookie eligibility for 2010 after posting a 5.89 ERA in 21 games, a span of 18 1/3 innings, and limiting big league hitters to a .221 average. He posted a 1.01 ERA in 21 games at Mobile and tossed one scoreless inning at Triple-A Reno as well. He has three quality pitches when you add his changeup to the mix. He continues to work on command to finish off the product.

MLB.com's Postseason Selections

Paul Goldschmidt, DH/1B: It's a rare situation where a short-season player earns the nod for one of MLB.com's organization end-of-season awards, but the D-backs' eighth-round pick this spring out of Texas State had a rare season. At designated hitter and first base at Missoula, he put up numbers that would be impressive over the course of a full season, hitting .334 with 18 homers and 62 RBIs in just 74 games, along with 27 doubles. He posted a .408 on-base percentage and his .619 slugging percentage ranked fourth in the Minors, with 30 multihit games. Half (48) of his 96 hits went for extra bases. Whether his power will translate at bigger parks and in the upper levels remains to be seen, but it was enough in '09 for him to wrap up this honor.

Terry Hose, RHP: In his first full season, the 36th-round pick from 2008 out of East Carolina moved into a new relief role, after having been a starter in his debut at short-season Yakima in '08. Between two Class A stops at South Bend and Visalia he combined for a 2.11 ERA and 12 saves, striking out 70 while walking just 17 in 59 2/3 innings and limiting hitters to a .209 average. After earning Midwest League All-Star honors for South Bend, he maintained his dominance even after his promotion to the hitting-heavy California League, striking out 27 while walking five in 22 2/3 innings there.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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