The Visalia Rawhide will begin their 6th season as an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate with a roster loaded with major league potential. Seven of the 25 players assigned to Visalia by the Arizona Diamondbacks are rated among the D-backs' top 25 prospects here at FutureBacks.com. The top three among those are returning starters from last year's squad.
David Holmberg, the 9th-best prospect in the system, will anchor the starting rotation for the Rawhide. The 20-year old left-hander stands out for his poise and ability to locate his fastball on either side of the plate. Holmberg has improved his secondary pitches over the past couple of seasons and is looking to build upon his stellar 2011 campaign. Bobby Borchering, a switch-hitting newly converted outfielder, ranks as the 10th-best prospect in the system after hitting 24 home runs last season at just 20-years old. Shortstop Chris Owings, fell from #3 to #13 on the rankings after struggling last season, but the 20-year old has youth and athleticism on his side for a comeback year. Outfielder Keon Broxton also returns to Tulare County this season. Coming in at #20 on the prospect chart, Broxton showed dramatic improvement in the second half of 2011 to post solid numbers.
2011 draft selections Anthony Meo, Andrew Chafin, and Kyle Winkler will join Holmberg in the rotation. Meo is a 2nd-round pick out of Coastal Carolina, the highest pitching draft pick in the school's history. He has the ability to pound the strike zone with a live fastball that has topped out at 98 mph. Chafin is a 1st-round supplemental draft pick out of Kent State with massive potential. The 20-year old left-hander throws a nasty slider, but his velocity reportedly dipped in the fall instructional league. Winkler, meanwhile, is the D-backs' 10th round selection out of TCU who has the potential to be a front-line starter at the major league level. He fell in the draft due to an arm injury, and has not yet thrown a pitch as a professional.
Jason Hardtke begins his second season as the manager of the team, and former major league All-Star and Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek returns as Pitching Coach. Jacob Cruz joins the team as the new htting coach. Cruz coached with short-season Yakima in 2011 and played nine seasons in the major leagues from 1996-2005.
With Opening Day set for Thursday, April 12th, the talent-heavy Rawhide are full of anticipation to begin what promises to be an action-packed season.
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