Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/5/13
Stryker Trahan, Matt Davidson and Chris Owings each flashed plus power for their respective positions at Salt River Fields in Arizona. For Owings, it was a line drive home run to right-center field in his first at bat of the Triple-A game. Davidson just missed barreling an outside fastball, but was still able to drive it to base of the right field wall. Trahan belted multiple shots to left-center field. One resulted in a double while the other ended in a long out. These in game displays of power were preceded by powerful batting practice sessions full of laser line drives and towering home runs. If the game of baseball revolved around the power tool, the Diamondbacks would have three of the best prospects in baseball. Of course, hitting ability, speed, defense and arm strength are also factored into the equation. This is where each loses his luster. In 2012, Davidson was the the third best “get” on the Mobile Bay Bears behind Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer. In a June write up, I questioned every aspect of his game other than the ability to run into a fastball and hit it a long way. Little has changed. On defense, his footwork is still slow and it was disconcerting to see coaches riding him so hard on the back fields during infield practice. If he can’t stick at third base, his value falls off a cliff. At the plate, he continued to be fooled by off-speed pitches down and away. Once Davidson feels himself drifting on his front foot, the pitch is a lost cause. If Davidson learns to leave the bat on his shoulder instead of flailing wildly, it will lead to more consistency. This off-season, the Diamondbacks have dealt for Martin Prado and signed him to an extension as their third baseman going forward. Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt followed Prado’s lead signing extensions of their own. One could leave the door open for Prado to return to left field, clearing a spot for Davidson, but Cody Ross was signed and Adam Eaton emerged. If Arizona is in the playoff hunt at the deadline, expect Davidson to be moved for help at the Major League level. Chris Owings struck me as a poor man’s Trevor Story. He flashes similar hitting skills without the plate discipline which makes the Rockies prospect so good. His home run was impressive, but flailing at multiple outside sliders without making adjustments will seal his fate at the Major League level. At 21, his walk rate needs to begin trending upward so the strikeout totals start coming down. 6% or more in Double-A would be a positive start. The balance, bat speed and power potential are there for him to be a productive hitter. If the approach doesn’t tighten up, it won’t matter. Plus, he’s a lesser defensive player destined for second base due to a lack of range and arm strength. Stryker Trahan impressed with a 1.99 pop time between innings, but he’ll need to improve his agility to stick at catcher. Plus, his bat is far enough ahead of the glove to force the conversation of whether catching will push back Trahan’s Major League ETA. And what a bat it is. In terms of prospects scouted previously, Trahan’s power ranks only behind Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper and Xander Bogaerts in terms of prospects scouted in person. If things break right for the young slugger, he’s a 70-power hitter with enough catch-and-throw for the Diamondbacks to accept other defensive limitations. Trahan’s build and walk rate point to a prospect with limited projection. For me, it’s impossible to see the Diamondbacks catcher and Padres Jaff Decker in the same week and not note similarities. In fact, Decker was even more dominant in his short season debut before the numbers began to slip with each promotion. Other Prospects Of Note Diamondbacks outfielder Alfredo Marte is a late bloomer who posted a .401 wOBA in the Southern League as a 23-year old. In person, he continues to profile as a fourth outfielder for me for a number of reasons. Marte has above average power, but an overly aggressive approach will limit its utility. As a corner outfielder without plus speed, Marte’s bat will need to carry him and I don’t think it will be good enough to warrant 600 plate appearances. Shortstop Nick Ahmed was the “tools guy” dealt from the Atlanta Braves in the Justin Upton deal. His glove work and hitting mechanics were tighter than last spring. After watching his inside-out approach punch balls to the right side previously, seeing Ahmed stay inside a fastball for a line drive to left field was promising. Ahmed is an above average athlete with speed and fluid movements, but a lack of strength keeps me from moving him to the plus category. What happened to Wagner Mateo? From three million dollar man to afterthought, the 20-year old has become a bad body first baseman. The bat speed is still excellent, but his awkward set up appears to tie him up more often than not. The Diamondacks did receive a discount on his services after the Cardinals voided an initial contract with Mateo due to a degenerative eye issue, but he’s looking like a sunk cost.
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