Power Rankings IX

They love their pitching in Tennessee, and they love their hitters in Lancaster, but this week the PR gives D'Backs fans hope, because the top two spots are occupied by hitter at the highest level, Tucson. Debuts from the Rookie Level Pioneer League, some surprising drops from South Bend, and a new #1 are all inside this weeks FutureBacks.com Power Rankings.

Note:  Stats are current through Saturday July 23rd, 2005.  This list is not a ranking of the 30 top prospects, but instead of which 30 prospects are having the best weeks, and making the most of their opportunities.  Players with a significant amount of Major League Service time are usually not eligible, though in certain situations (change of position, change of role) exceptions may be made.  Agree?  Disagree?  Bored?  Email questions, comments, and concerns to FutureBacks@cox.net.

Rank Name Team Comment Last Week
1 Andy Green Tuc Honestly too good to be in the minors still.  Green has reached base in 36 straight games (thanks to hitting streaks of 15 and 18 games) and leads the minors in:  Hits (140), Triples (11), and Runs (91), is second in total bases (247) and extra base hits (62), and third in batting average (.357).  This week he was just your average everyday 13-28 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs, six RBI and eight runs scored.  Trade Alex Cintron and at least make Green the utility guy, if not the starting second baseman (or center fielder, a position he's playing more and more in Tucson). 5
2 Conor Jackson Tuc All of a sudden Green's made him look like the second best player in Tucson, but that's not exactly a diss, was only 5-22 this week, but is buoyed by the fact that four of those hits went for extra bases, and he drew 10 walks as well.  His 36 doubles are second in the minors, and is 67 walks are seventh. 3
3 Casey Daigle Tenn Two appearances, one win, one save, Daigle just keeps rolling on.  In his last seven appearances he's got two wins and five saves, and the closer you look the better he gets.  His overall ERA is 2.59, impressive, in July it's 2.00, even better, and now remember that he's made a few starts this season, his ERA as a reliever, 1.09.  That's real good. 4
4 Chris Carter Lan Carter was getting heat from people saying that his success was coming from hitting ahead of super stud Stephen Drew.  Keep talkin' kids, now Carter is the one protecting Drew, and doing it well.  Riding a six game hitting streak, Carter was 11-22 this week, with three doubles, three homers, eight runs scored and eight RBI.  7
5 Carlos Gonzales SB A tough week for our former #1, just 5-17 with a single run, a single extra base hit, and just three RBI.  He walked three times, struck out twice, and was 0-1 in stolen bases.  Drops four spots. 1
6 Miguel Montero Tenn Double-A hasn't been as much fun as Montero hoped.  This week he was a solid 6-17, but with just a single triple, single run, and single RBI on the week.  Yes, it's a limited number of at bats, but he's hitting .714 at home, just .182 at home since joining the Smokies. 2
7 Stephen Drew Lan Honestly, we blinked twice as well, but this is proof positive we don't get swayed by the big names.  Drew drops a spot this week after rolling out a just okay 6-23.  The average is one thing, of much more concern is the single RBI.  Two doubles and four runs scored are better, but further inspection finds that Drew3 is simply making an adjustment.  Five walks this week as his protection switches from Montero to Carter, and he's still on when it counts, hitting .341 with Runners In Scoring Position.  Had a 15 game hitting streak to start July off, looks to start another soon. 6
8 Jeff Cook Lan Moving up because hitting fifth and sixth in a lineup where Drew and Carter are hitting third and fourth mean there are duck on the pond, and Cook is driving them in (five RBI this week).  Good pitch recognition (three walks against two Ks), production (five runs scored to go along with the RBI), and consistent no matter what the situation, he's hitting .403 when leading an inning off, but also a solid .336 with RISP.  It's been a bounce back month for Cook, who hit .311 in June (.333 in July) but only drove in eight all of last month, and already has 22 in July. 12
9 Carlos Quentin Tuc Was living large with a 14 game hit streak that got snapped Wednesday, so his 6-24 gets a little bit of a pass, still productive even without a lot of hits, he scored four runs, drove in seven, and two of those six hits were round trippers.  Continues to see a lot of time in center field and continues to be better than most thought he would be.  His .315/5/17 thus far in July would make anybody smile, and seems to be more focused in crucial situations (.363 with RISP, just .227 when leading an inning off).  13
10 Dan Uggla Tenn He's hitting close to .330 for the year, so his .293 in July, while great for most prospects, is a little causing a little concern here.  As many RBI (5) as hits this week, and while five walks against six strikeouts isn't great for some, for Uggla it's a major improvement, and one we've been waiting to see. 11
11 Matt Elliott SB If it weren't for Daigle's success we'd be calling Elliott the best closer the Diamondbacks have anywhere (sorry Mr. Bruney, but you scare us).  Two appearances this week, one save, three innings pitched, just one hit and no earned runs.  His 25 saves rank him seventh in minor league baseball, and he's the anti-Bruney, rarely making things exciting, he hasn't allowed an earned run since June 2nd (19 appearances), love the strikeout (51 in 39 innings pitched), and hasn't allowed a home run all year. 14
12 Cesar Nicolas SB Drops a couple notches as it seems the dog days of summer are getting to some of our best bashers.  Just 4-20, but drew three walks as well.  Scored six runs, so finds a way to get home, now he needs to find a way to get others home, he's hitting just .190 with RISP and two outs.  Of major concern...this week he hit a home run, but it's the only one he's had in his last 44 at bats, jacked 14 in his first 160 trips to the plate.  10
13 Augie Murillo SB On a South Bend team that appears to be slumping offensively, Murillo is the most obvious example.  Just 3-23 this week, zero runs scored and just one RBI.  He's had only four extra base hits all month, and his average in July is just .241.  Had faced more lefties this month than in any prior, and it could explain the numbers, he's hitting just .233 off southpaws this year, as opposed to .338 against right handers.  8
14 Dustin Nippert Tenn Nippert lost his only start this week and still moves up a notch because it was yet another 'Quality Start,' six innings of three run ball.  He did allow a home run, but it's the first he's allowed in more than 50 innings pitched, and he's a bullpen savior, going at least five innings in all 10 starts this year.  A .291 ERA, a .240 opponents against batting average, and one has to believe he's going to continue to get better, since he's still on the mend (in theory) from Tommy John surgery.  If the Diamondbacks fall out of the race, expect Nippert to get a start or two in September. 15
15 Tony Pena Tenn Maybe it's the water in Tennessee, but like Nippert, Tony Pena is on fire.  After a horrible April (opponents hit .483 off him), and a disappointing May (.303) Pena has turned it on in the middle of the year.  His elbow is now fine, he's off the oh-fer train (he lost his first seven decisions) and things are clicking.  That opponents average in June?  Try .239, and after his two hit complete game shutout this week, opponents are hitting just .217 off him in July...if you call that hitting...he's won his last three starts, and it appears he'd like to reclaim his status as top pitching prospect in the organization. 21
16 A. J. Shappi Lan Shappi's been making mechanical, and philosophical adjustments to his game, and he has just gotten promoted, so it's hard to be mad at him, but he's 0-3, opponents are .343, and he's given up eight homers in four starts since the promotion to Lancaster.  This week was a disaster, allowing seven hits in 5.2 innings, and four of those left the yard.  Expect his to scuffle for awhile, but figure things out toward the end of the year and set himself up nicely for the '06 season. 9
17 Enrique Gonzalez Tenn The third member of Tennessee's starting rotation to make the PR, but while Nippert and Pena are on their way up, Gonzalez is holding steady.  Lost his only start, but it was an encouraging one.  Seven innings, five hits, two earned, just one walk and six K's.  It was the first time he's got seven innings since May 28th, but he's still 0-5 in his last five starts, and even with the good showing this week he's carrying a 7.20 ERA in July.  One problem might be control, he's walked 10 and struck out 10 in 15 July innings, prior to that he'd walked 31 and K'd 86 in 95.1 innings. 17
18 Koley Kolberg SB Pitching dominates the teens this week in the PR, and Kolberg is representing South Bend's starting rotation despite not getting a decision this week.  The former University of Arizona prospect is getting no love from his struggling offense, this week going five innings of scoreless ball, and in July going 1-2 despite having an ERA of 3.00 and holding opponents to a .245 average.  He's been way good at home as well, posting a 1.29 ERA at home. 19
19 Edgar Varela Lan Quietly getting it done amongst the big basher in Lancaster, this week the 1B/3B was 5-16, scoring three and driving in three, but he's been seeing the majority of his playing time lately at first base, and he's going to have to produce more to move up as a corner infielder, he's hitting just .169 with RISP, despite a .313 average in July. 18
20 Josh Perrault SB Love for middle relief, Perrault is exactly the guy to want to see coming in the game when the pressure's on, opponents are hitting just .217 off him with RISP, and his July ERA (1.13) is fantastic.  Another good week (three appearances, four innings, four hits, just one earned) moves him up the list. 23
21 Rusty Ryal Miss Our highest debut comes from the lowest level of the organization, as Ryal is tearing the Pioneer League apart.  This week he was 14-28 with three doubles, a triple, a home run, six RBI and a crazy 12 runs scored.  He was 1-2 in stolen base attempts, so he's got speed as well, and scouts tell us the power (nine extra base hits in 78 at bats) is only going to get better.  Clutch (.375 with RISP, and .462 with RISP and two out) and hot, (.385 in July) he finished the week on a high note, with back to back three hit games. NR
22 Ross Ohlendorf SB The once and future king of the K, Ohlendorf is struggling of late.  Two starts this week, an 0-1 record, just 11 innings pitched and nine earned runs.  His 12 strikeout were nice, but we'd like to see about half the four walks.  Has not shown the killer instinct yet (opponents are hitting .322 with runners in scoring position) and the ERA shows it, he's over 6.00 in each of the last two months. 20
23 Sam Smith Lan More love for middle relief, Sam Smith is the guy one level above Perrault who starters like to see when they are leaving.  Two appearances this week, three innings pitched, just one hit and zero earned, that's a developing trend by the way, as opponents are hitting just .213 off him with RISP.  Since moving into the bullpen he's 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA, striking out 16 in 24.1 innings. 27
24 Alberto Gonzalez SB He's back on the PR after a few weeks off, the other Gonzalez (that's with a 'Z') was white hot, going 12-27 with three doubles, a triple, an RBI and five runs scored.  He stole two bases this week, he's hitting .361 in July, and he's so good with the glove (his .981 fielding percentage is tops among Midwest League shortstops, though technically he doesn't have enough attempts to qualify, even though he's had 258 total chances) he's bumped Mark Reynolds to third base. NR
25 Mark Reynolds SB Moved to third by Gonzalez and despite a down week they're going to keep that bat in the lineup.  Just 3-15, but one of those was a homer, and he found a way to drive in five even when he wasn't hitting that well.  Hitting just .239 in July and pitch selection is becoming a major issue.  He's walked just two times in July, while striking out 11 times, and that's a trend that's been there from day one, this season he's got 29 walks and 77 strikeouts.  22
26 Jereme Milons SB Baseball America loves this kid, and we're starting to as well.  His modest seven game hit streak is nice, but the 8-16, four double, two homer, four RBI and five runs scored week he posted this week is even better.  He's hitting .296 in July, his best month yet. NR
27 Matt Wilkinson Yak Inching his way up the list, the Yakima closer is steady as they come.  Just one appearance, two hits and zero earned in his one inning.  Opponents are hitting just .176 off him, his ERA is a stellar 0.90, and he throws strikes, six walks and 11 Ks in 10 innings thus far. 29
28 Steve Garrabrants Lan Dropped off the list because of injury, and now back on and figuring to move up quickly.  Does anything you ask him to, he's hitting .314 with nine bases on ball when leading off, he's hitting .396 with runners on, and he's at .403 with RISP.  His .316 average in July is even more impressive when you consider he started slowly after coming off the DL.  Seven walks and just one strikeout this week, all in the leadoff spot, which makes up for an otherwise disappointing 4-24 week.  Three runs scored and four RBI, this kid could hit anywhere except #3, and #4 in the lineup if you wanted him to. OTC
29 Javier Brito SB Stays on the list because of past achievement, but another week like this one (0-15 with a single RBI) will drop him off the PR and continue to lose him at bats in South Bend. 16
30 Steve Mena Miss Our last newbie comes from Missoula as well, and it's another masher.  A six game hitting streak, and three of his seven hits this week left the yard, which helps explain a whopping 10 RBI, add a stolen base and five runs scored for good measure.  NR


On the Cusp:

Matt Chico (Lan):  When he first got demoted to Lancaster Chico struggled, but suddenly he's starting to figure things out.  This week he had his best outing of the season, going seven strong innings, allowing only four hits and shutting his opponents out.  A season high 10 strikeouts is great, and even better with only two walks.  He's allowed three earned or less in his last four starts, and eight of his 10 starts since moving down to Hi-A.  This month opponents are hitting just .208 off him, and he's carrying a 2.03 ERA in four starts this month as well.

Billy Murphy (Tuc):  Stays OTC for a second straight week after a five inning, four hit, two earned showing in which he was the hard luck loser.  Control is still and issue (13 walks in 22.1 innings pitched this month), but it's getting better and showing results, he's 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA in July.  The long ball is also troublesome, he's allowed 10 jacks in just over 83 innings this year.  Needs one quality start to crack the PR.

Jon Castellanos (Lan):  This kid's been quietly getting it done all year, and this week's six inning, 12 hit, one earned win is indicative of how.  Doesn't overpower like teammate Garrett Mock, but gets the job done, he's allowed just one earned in three of his last four.


Falling Off:

Matt Kata (Tuc):  Should get an honorary spot on the list simply because his trade value brought the Diamondbacks a reliever (Tim Worrell) they desperately needed.

Jarred Ball (Tenn):  After a crazy good June he's falling apart in July, hitting just .157, and this week's 1-17 performance didn't help.  Strikeouts are once again the biggest issue, he K'd 10 times this week, and drew only two walks.

Jay Garthwaite (Lan):  While everyone else in Lancaster is hitting, Garthwaite is hurting, maybe literally.  Rumors have surfaced that he's trying to play through a bad back, and though he had a double this week, it was his only hit.  The average in July is just .170, after hitting over .360 in June.

Jesus Cota (Tenn):  Coming into the season the question was could he stay healthy and hit for power.  Health yes, power, not so much, and the long season (it is a long season already, considering he's usually spent time on the DL by now) appears to be wearing on him, his average has dropped significantly each month, down to just .200 in July. 

Emilio Bonifacio (SB):  Not a horrible week, but when you're #30 on the PR it takes a good week to keep you there.  He's a lead off hitter batting only .228 when he leads off, and down think about moving him to a run producing spot, he's hitting a horrendous .128 with RISP and two outs.

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