But players like Dan Uggla, Corey Myers and Matt Morgan have all followed the Chad Tracy model, which is, play third for now, but we might like you somewhere else tomorrow, while the potential still exists for Sergio Santos to move from short to third, where he saw some reps in Spring Training.
#4) The Diamondbacks continued their fantastic
That optimism may have been slowed a little bit after 2004. In his first full year in pro ball Murillo showed serious signs of fatigue during the second half, and his average slipped to .263 by the end of the season. Still, Murillo showed a more complete set of tools, improving his range at third, swiping 10 bases, and drawing 23 walks even as his average, homers and RBI slipped. The Diamondbacks will closely monitor Murillo, and set him up with an aggressive offseason weight training program after the 2005 season, but this season will be an important one for Murillo, who will turn 23 at the beginning of May and thus must make strides soon if he wants to get to the big leagues.
#3) How do you get excited about a guy who's played
only one half a season at the Rookie Level?
Take a look at Ricardo Sosa and it's easy to figure out. 6'1" and 200 pounds with more room to grow,
way above average speed, an advanced batter's eye, and the best part he won't
turn 21 until the end of May. Signed out
Sosa's best attribute might be his speed, but his power isn't far behind. That gap power should translate to home run power as he matures and becomes more comfortable with the pitching, but the speed is already there. With very little skill he managed to grab six stolen bases last year and added two triples to a speed resume that has the Diamondbacks drooling. One scout compared Sosa to right handed hitting Corey Patterson, implying that he could hit virtually anywhere in a lineup once he figures out how to harness all his tools.
#2) Brian Barden is head and shoulders above
every other candidate on this list defensively.
In fact he's so good defensively that the Diamondbacks have started
giving Barden a shot at second base at Triple-A Tucson. Why?
Because the conventional wisdom states that a third baseman absolutely
must be a power hitter, and of all the tools Barden possesses, a masher's bat
is not one of them. Barden may have been
listening to those whispers entering last season, as he posted his best power
numbers since his stint in the hitter friendly
Still, he's a defensive gem, and the Diamondbacks love that,
which might account for the (part time) move to second base. At second base the numbers Barden put up in
2003 at Double-A El Paso (.287 with three homers, 57 RBI, and 10 stolen bases)
would be solid; at third they are a little sketchy. Tucson Manager Chip Hale says Barden is one
of his favorite players for all the reasons a guys is a coaches favorite, he
runs everything out, is out at the park early, works with other players without
even being asked, and will do anything to help his team win. Unfortunately for Barden the system is loaded
with super subs (Matt Kata, Alex Cintron, fellow
With Green, Myers, and Keone DeRenne in Tucson with Barden the competition at third base should be fierce, and that's not even including Sergio Santos, who will start the season as the shortstop, but rumors still persist he might move to third. Barden's future rests solely on his bat, because none of those players can hold a candle to Barden defensively. If he shows he can cut down on the strikeouts and hit for just a little more power, he could be a legit option at the big league level if Troy Glaus suffered an injury.
#1) Jaime D'Antona was part of the famed ‘Three Amigos,' and even though Carlos Quentin and Conor Jackson might profile as better overall players, virtually everyone is agreement that for pure power, D'Antona is your guy. Taken in the 2nd round of the 2003 draft out of Wake Forest, D'Antona stepped into pro ball and made the ‘adjustment' from aluminum to wood look far easier than it should be. At Short Season A ball in Yakima D'Antona put up solid full season numbers in just half a year. Fifteen home runs and 57 RBI in just 271 at bats is fantastic, but that was Short Season ball right?
Fast forward to 2004 where D'Antona skipped the Lo-A
(Midwest League) South Bend Silverhawks and jumped straight to Hi-A
So what's the downside for D'Antona? Defense and contact are the early favorites. Rumors have already started that D'Antona will be moving from third base to first base, but he'll start the season at Double-A Tennessee firmly planted at the hot corner. While some believe that the signing of Troy Glaus has blocked D'Antona, it might actually be to his benefit, because before the signing D'Antona was on the fast track and now he'll have the time to sharpen his defense and his pitch selection, which appears to be the other chink in D'Antona's armor. In 615 total minor league at bats D'Antona has struck out 112 times, and several sizeable holes have been uncovered in his swing. While the Diamondbacks are not terribly concerned with those strikeout numbers (after all, 112 Ks with 28 homers isn't bad) they would like to see some of those holes closed, and 2005 will offer the opportunity to show that when healthy he can both hit for power and make contact consistently at the Double-A level.