PHOENIX - JULY 03: Outfielder Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks attempts a leaping catch on the home run hit by Andre Ethier (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 3 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ah, it's finally summer. No more finals, and no more ridiculous D.C. humidity for now. Obviously a little something called life has been getting in the way of my writing the past couple days, but now that I'm settled in one place with few responsibilities other than waiting until my summer job starts, I should be able to get back on the horse again.
And I suppose this is a particularly nice treat, because the All Bonus Baby Team that we're about to look at is, well, pretty stacked. Arizona's already moved on from many of the players from that generation of Baby Backs, but you'll surely be impressed by the lineup that's put together here. Also, as a reminder because we haven't done this in a while: these teams are all about this season; we're merely looking at what kind of team each organization could build using only players drafted and signed since 2000.
We're having fun here.
1) SS Stephen Drew - 2004 1st Round Pick (15th overall)
He's not a prototypical lead-off hitter, but this lineup doesn't really have one. Drew should be perfectly fine, though, as he's pushed his walk rate up to 11.1% this season and posted a solid .352 OBP last season. He doesn't really get that much hype for someone with his kind of pedigree, but defensive improvement over the years has made him one of the best shortstops in the NL.
2) RF Justin Upton - 2005 1st Round Pick (1st overall)
One of the best young players in the game, it's easy to forget that Upton is only 23. The guy is younger than Philadelphia top prospect Domonic Brown, for example. He appeared to be on his way to superstardom after 2009, but he regressed a good deal in 2010 and has cooled off of late after a hot start to 2011. But Arizona shouldn't be disappointed; they either have an elite superstar, or a very, very good regular right fielder.
3) 2B Dan Uggla - 2001 11th Round Pick
One of the all-time great Rule 5 picks, Uggla's been one of the most prolific power-hitting middle infielders in recent memory. He's taking a much more aggressive approach this season (swing rate is up from 41.9% to 48.6%), and the results haven't been good. Less strikeouts is good, but he's a better hitter when he's more selective and taking more pitches.
4) DH Carlos Quentin - 2003 1st Round Pick (29th overall)
The 27-year-old Quentin is one of the best power-hitters in the American League, but UZR hates his defensive work in right field, which kills his fWAR marks. I don't think he's -20 bad in right, but he's certainly below-average. With that said, he's capable of giving you 30+ homers with a well above-average OBP, so you take the bad with the good.
5) 3B Mark Reynolds - 2004 16th Round Pick
The ultimate hit-or-miss MLB batter, it's tough to tell which part of his game is more ridiculous: the raw power, or the propensity to swing-and-miss. In 2009, it worked to the tune of a 127 OPS+ and 44 homers in 155 games. Since then, Reynolds has batted .198/.315/.419 with 35 homers in 176 games. If Baltimore wanted mediocre defense, lots of power, and even more strikeouts, they could have just handed the third base gig to Josh Bell.
6) C Chris Snyder - 2002 2nd Round Pick
Snyder had a few nice years in Arizona before losing his spot as the regular catcher to Miguel Montero, and he's continued to be a quietly solid catcher for the Pirates now. Even in his mediocre years, his bat has been adequate for a catcher. He walks a lot and has good power- that's more than a lot of regular catchers can say.
7) LF Conor Jackson - 2003 1st Round Pick (19th overall)
I was pretty much ready to give up on Jackson after last season, but clearly Oakland saw something they liked in the 29-year-old when they tendered him a contract over the winter. And he's actually been a bright spot for the A's so far, hitting .270/.341/.392 with above-average UZR marks in left field.
8) 1B Chris Carter - 2004 17th Round Pick
Now, to be clear here, we're talking about the 28-year-old Chris Carter that's currently playing for Triple-A Durham in the Tampa Bay organization. He's generally regarded to be a Quad-A player; 2011 will be his fifth full season of Triple-A ball, and he's batted .305/.372/.497 in his time at that level. But he's shown improved contact skills of late, and you could certainly find worse stop-gaps at first base.
9) CF Scott Hairston - 2001 3rd Round Pick
Hairston's currently the fourth outfielder for the Mets, but most teams are probably banking on seeing Jerry's brother return to pre-2010 levels. After hitting .258/.309/.466 in 2008-2009, he's batting .205/.293/.337 since the beginning of last season. Here's a good example of a low-BABIP hitter, too. He's a fly ball hitter that pops up one-fifth of his fly balls; that's usually a good formula for having a .276 career BABIP.
1) LHP Brett Anderson - 2006 2nd Round Pick
I feel like Trevor Cahill gets more attention than Anderson at this point, but the young lefty may actually be Oakland's best pitcher. Staying healthy has been his biggest issue, but his ERA, FIP and xFIP marks are all below 3.5 for his career. Between Cahill and Anderson, the A's should have two legitimate aces for a while.
2) RHP Max Scherzer - 2006 1st Round Pick (11th overall)
Remember when everyone was saying that Scherzer didn't have the third pitch or durability to be a starter? Well, now the 26-year-old is on his way to his third consecutive 3+ WAR performance as a starting pitcher. He's still not the most efficient pitcher as his command comes and goes, but there aren't many pitchers out there that can miss bats like Scherzer can. You have to wonder if the D-Backs regret trading Scherzer for Edwin Jackson, although they're probably happy to have Dan Hudson around now.
3) RHP Ross Ohlendorf - 2004 4th Round Pick
Ohlendorf is currently on the mend with a shoulder injury, but he can be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. Home runs have always been an issue for the former Yankee farmhand, but he did accumulate 4.5 rWAR over the course of 2009 and 2010.
4) RHP Barry Enright - 2007 2nd Round Pick
Enright was totally over his head while posting a sub-4 ERA in 17 starts for Arizona last year, and he's only made that clearer over the course of his first six starts with the club this season. He's a fly ball pitcher that's struggling to miss bats at the MLB level; you want to give him the benefit of the doubt because he's only 25, but it's hard to picture Enright being an effective MLB starter right now.
5) RHP Micah Owings - 2005 3rd Round Pick
Owings is back in the Arizona organization after spending two years with the Reds, and at this point you have to imagine that he'll get a shot at taking Enright's job eventually. He's struggling with home runs so far at Triple-A, though, so you have to wonder if the D-Backs are too set on letting him pitch in Chase Field. But he does have a 3.7 K/BB ratio so far, and he does get some bonus points for being a particularly effective hitter.
Set Up: Daniel Schlereth - 2008 1st Round Pick (26th overall)
Schlereth has a 2.13 ERA so far this year, but there are numerous red flags surrounding his performance. He's not missing bats like he used to, and his 5.47 FIP indicates that he's due for some serious regression over the next few weeks. The bigger questions should surround how hard he's throwing, though: his average velocity is down for the second consecutive year, from 93.1 in 2009 to 91.8 in 2010 to just 90.3 this season.
Closer: Sergio Santos - 2002 1st Round Pick (27th overall)
Santos has a pretty great story. In 2002, Arizona drafted him in the first round as a shortstop, and he was rated as one of the very best shortstop prospects in the game in 2004 and 2005. He hit Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2005, but his bat totally stalled out at that level, and he would spend the next couple years bouncing around with the D-Backs, Blue Jays and Twins. A plus arm was always one of the most appealing things about Santos as a shortstop, and so the White Sox converted him to pitching once they got ahold of him in 2009. And after dominating as a set-up man for Chicago in 2010, the 27-year-old has already taken hold of the closer's role this season. In his first 67 MLB appearances, the once-elite shortstop prospect has posted a 2.37 ERA and a 2.80 FIP.
DISTRIBUTION OF PICKS
2000: 0; 2001: 2; 2002: 2; 2003: 2; 2004: 4; 2005: 2; 2006: 2; 2007: 1; 2008: 1; 2009: 0
6th or later: 3