Deric McKamey Q&A on Diamondbacks Prospects

Minor League Expert Deric McKamey answers reader questions on Diamondbacks Prospects, including fireballers Jarrod Parker and Max Scherzer, infielders Mark Hallberg and Taylor Harbin, the injured Esmerling Vazquez, and more.

Deric McKamey of was kind enough to answer our questions about the Arizona Diamondbacks system.

More on Deric McKamey and his rankings

When you rank prospects, do you consider organizational depth at the position that a prospect plays, or evaluate them in a vacuum?

I do evaluate prospects in a vacuum, as I believe that is the fair way evaluate and it makes ranking more fluid whenever a player gets traded.  Organizational depth is something I look at, but do not base my rankings on.  One thing that does factor into my evaluations is the developmental philosophy of the organization, such as the aggressiveness or lack thereof concerning promotions and whether there is a track record of individual development, both good or bad.

Who will have the better fastball when he reaches the majors – Jarrod Parker or Max Scherzer? Where do their fastballs rank among all pitching prospects?

Assuming both remain starting pitchers, I'd have to give Parker the slight nod.  Both can throw in excess 95 MPH and can maintain their velocity in the 91-95 MPH range.  Parker throws a bit harder, and though he pitched in high school last year and has very smooth mechanics, I don't see much body projection, and thus I don't think he'll throw any harder.  Scherzer has excellent arm strength and slightly better pitch movement at the moment, but that is something that Parker can catch up to him with.  I ranked Scherzer slightly ahead of Parker on Arizona's organizational list (very close on my top 100 as well) based on proximity to the majors, a better slider, and more professional experience. 

In terms of velocity and movement, it would be a safe assumption that Parker and Scherzer would rank in the top 10 of all minor league pitching prospects for fastball quality (velocity and movement).

Mark Hallberg and Taylor Harbin both had outstanding pro debuts and draw a lot of praise from within the organization.  How much do their small statures affect their prospect status in your eyes?

It isn't so much their stature, especially Hallberg, who I don't consider that small at 5'11", but more their tools that effect their prospect status.  Both are hustling type middle infielders that make good contact at the plate and have excellent plate discipline, so hitting for batting average won't prove difficult.  Hallberg doesn't have a lot of power, but the big knock on him is his defense.  His arm strength is average at best, which is a push at SS, and his hands are stiff.  Harbin is on the small size, but swings harder, which gives him a chance for moderate power.  The downside to Harbin is he that he is only an average runner, which coupled with his average arm strength, makes 2B his only viable position.  I do think he'll make a better second baseman (softer hands, quicker DP turn) than Hallberg, which is why I ranked Harbin slightly higher.

How much did Esmerling Vasquez' labrum injury cause him to fall on the charts?  Where would you have put him had he stayed healthy?

The torn labrum and subsequent surgery dropped him significantly, as he would have been ranked #4 after the deals were done.  Fortunately, it was injured on a freak play rather than being a result of throwing, but a torn labrum is a torn labrum, no matter how you look at it.  Vasquez' 88-95 MPH fastball was very solid, with his whip-like arm action providing excellent movement.  He changes speeds well and projects from a body/arm standpoint, so I'll be very interested to see how he recovers from surgery.

Cyle Hankerd looked like a pretty polished hitter coming out of USC.  What earns him just a 30% chance of reaching his potential?  Is the high upside you foresee completely driven by his bat, or do you anticipate his development into a plus fielder?

Hankerd dropped to an 8D from an 8C, based primarily on his offensive production in 2007.  I know he battled a wrist injury for much of the year, which drained his power, but I was expecting more from him playing in the California League.  Perhaps that was harsh on my part, but that's how I saw it.

His upside is almost exclusively driven by his bat.  His range and arm strength both grade-out to below average and will be limited to LF when he arrives in the majors.  What also factored into his D-rating was that he hits right-handed, possesses a platoon differential (.379 versus LHP, .251 versus RHP),) and ultimately, I don't see him having the type of bat that makes one an asset in LF.

The Diamondbacks left Jaime D'Antona unprotected in this winter's Rule 5 Draft and no team bit on him.  Thoughts?

Honestly, I thought a National League team would select him and use him as a reserve 1B-3B/third catcher.  I like how D'Antona has progressed offensively, altering his hitting mechanics, which gives him a better balance of power and batting average.  His lack of defense is holding him back.  While he has plenty of versatility and plus arm strength, he lacks mobility and soft hands, which makes him below average at whatever position he plays.

More Diamondbacks analysis from Deric McKamey is available for premium FutureBacks members:

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Aftermath of Winter Dealings

Deric McKamey's Minor League Baseball Analyst profiles over 1000 minor league prospects and includes detailed scouting reports, sabermetrics, major league equivalencies, organizational lists, a top 100 list, and potential ratings.  The book can be purchased through Baseball HQ, where the purchaser will also receive a free online update to the lists in the book.   You may also purchase the book through any of the major on-line bookstores.  The Minor League Baseball Analyst is expected to arrive mid-January.

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