The FutureBacks.com Top 50: 20-16

<p>The Top 50 is finally here.&nbsp; After months of interviews, evaluations, discussion and hand wringing, we've done the Santa Claus thing, made the list, checked it twice, then reevaluated, discussed some more, and done some more hand wringing...then there were cuts, and trades, and rumored trades.&nbsp; There are still going to be cuts, trades, and rumored trades but for <b>#20-#16</b> the future is bright. </p>

#20--Carlos Gonzalez

Name Top 50 Prospect Profile: Carlos Gonzalez
Position Outfield
Age 19
Bats Left
Throws Left
'04 Club Short Season A Yakima Bears (Northwest League), Lo A South Bend Silverhawks (Midwest League)

Relieved in 2003 at Yakima, started in '04 with the Silverhawks.  Led the team with 14 wins.  Fastball is upper 80s with better than average control, but inconsistent location within the strike zone.  Had a deceptive delivery for a 6'5" pitcher, and a tight curveball, so might be better suited for the bullpen at upper levels, but the Diamondbacks were going to give him a shot at starting, and see how he fared next season in Hi-A Lancaster.  What the Dodgers will do with him on the other hand is yet to be seen, as he is part of the deal that will bring Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks.

#19--Justin Wechsler

Name Top 50 Prospect Profile: Justin Wechsler
Position Pitcher
Age 22
Bats Left
Throws Left
'04 Club Hi A Lancaster JetHawks/ AA El Paso Diablos ( Texas League)

Wechsler repeated 2004 at Hi-A Lancaster, but this year in a different role, out of the bullpen.  At the start of the season he pitched very little, but he established himself as the set up man in late May, and after Jason Bulger's promotion to Double-A El Paso Wechsler took over the closing duties last season and came into his own, eventually earning a team high (fifth in the California league) 18 saves.  He was named to the California League All Star team in 2004 and impressed with a more consistent slider and a better approach on the mound.  As a starter Wechsler had difficulty spotting his fastball and often fell behind taking his best pitch, a devastating slider, out of play.  Now in the bullpen Wechsler has found the location on his fastball, and consistently throws in the 91-92 range, up from the high 80s he showcased as a starter.  

#18--Chris Carter

Name Top 50 Prospect Profile: Chris Carter
Position Outfield/1st Base
Age 20
Bats Left
Throws Left
'04 Club Yakima Bears (Short Season Northwest League), South Bend Silverhawks (Lo A Midwest League)

Chris Carter came out of Stanford a relatively unhearalded 17th round draft pick in 2004, mostly because a combination of injuries and personality conflicts limited his playing time there. The Diamondbacks placed Carter at Short Season Yakima where he proceeded to destroy the league, contending for the triple crown. Bill Plummer, who was Carter's coach in Yakima, and recently was named manager of the 2005 Hi-A Lancaster JetHawks said of Carter, "He was the best hitter in the Northwest League last season, that probably surprised some people, but the way he worked it surprised no one up here. He's at the park early, he's at the park late, he's just always working."

#17--Brian Bruney

Name Top 50 Prospect Profile:  Brian Bruney
Position Pitcher
Age 22
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club AAA Tuscon Sidewinders (Pacific Coast League)/ Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Bruney is yet another in a long and talented line of potential closers in the Diamondback system.  He features a high ceiling because he's only 22, and the Diamondbacks have been very pleased with his progress from a tiny Oregon town to his big league debut last season.  The D'Backs saw his 34 strikeouts in just 31.1 innings coming, and they also saw the 27 walks.  When Bruney spots his slider consistently the Diamondbacks figure he will be a dominant closer, and the question is whether or not he will still be in a Diamondback uniform when that happens.

#16--Edgar Gonzalez

Name Prospect Profile: Edgar Gonzalez
Position Pitcher
Age 21
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Clubs AAA Tucson Sidewinders (Pacific Coast League)/ Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Gonzalez has been most effective when throwing like a groundball pitcher, rather than the strikeout hurler he was designated earlier in his career.  His command was his biggest assest in the minors, but has been his undoing since his promotion to the big leagues, not through walks, but instead simply not hitting his spots.  When he first got the call in 2003 he was the youngest player in the majors at 20, and the Diamondbacks gave him every opportunity to succeed in '04, with no results to speak of.  Gonzalez will compete with Ramon Pena, Mike Gosling, and Brad Halsey, the question is whether it will be for one spot in the rotation or two.


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