FutureBacks Power Rankings: Week 1

Last April, the Arizona Diamondbacks' minor league affiliates were all struggling to win games. This year is quite different, as Mobile and Visalia are each arguably off to their best starts in team history. The first FutureBacks.com Power Rankings for 2009 are littered with so many dominant performances from BayBears and Rawhide players that it's hard to fit all of the qualified candidates.

Reno Aces 4-6 (2nd)
Mobile BayBears 8-2 (1st-t)
Visalia Rawhide 10-1 (1st)
South Bend Silver Hawks 3-7 (4th)

The Visalia Rawhide tied a California League record by beginning the year 10-0 before finally losing to the Modesto Nuts 10-2 on Sunday.  Their success isn't such a surprise; the only affiliate to finish over .500 last year was the South Bend Silver Hawks, who advanced to the Midwest League Finals after a dominant second half of the season.  The majority of that Silver Hawks squad is now playing for the newly-named Visalia Rawhide.

"It's amazing," said Rawhide first baseman/outfielder Ryne White, who is leading the California League with 12 RBI.  "A lot of guys on the team played together last year in South Bend, and went to instructional league together, and really developed together as a team. A lot of teams have guys that haven't played with each other much, and it takes awhile to develop that team chemistry. And we have that team chemistry. We all get along with each other, and you can see that chemistry on the field."

Mobile's success has more to do with all of the veteran insurance policies that the D-backs signed to clog up Triple-A.  So the BayBears have not only the best players from last year's Visalia Oaks in the fold, but also several stars from last year's BayBears, as there was no room for them to advance to Triple-A Reno.  Bryan Byrne, Chris Rahl, Gerardo Parra, Matt Torra, Hector Ambriz, Cody Evans, and Jason Urquidez are the primary BayBears from 2008 who are back with the team, but making it look like they should be playing in Triple-A or higher, because the Southern League isn't challenging them anymore.

Remember, these rankings chronicle the hottest organizational prospects who are making the most of their opportunity, not the best prospects overall.  Cesar Valdez, for example, is a terrific prospect that got roughed up in his second start, so you won't see him listed here.  Also, there are many Diamondbacks prospects who have been successful to begin the season, but who simply could not fit on these rankings.  There's a good chance that those prospects will appear on next week's list, as there's no way the minor league system as a whole can continue to stay this hot.

Or can it?

Abbreviations: Mob=Mobile, SL=Southern League, PCL= Pacific Coast League
SB=South Bend, MWL=Midwest League, Vis=Visalia, CL=California League

Stats are accurate as of Sunday, April 19th.   

Rank Pos Name Team Comment
1 SP Bryan Augenstein Mob One of three SL pitchers with >10 IP and 0.00 ERA; Lowest WHIP (0.50)
2 SP Josh Collmenter Vis One of two CL pitchers with >10 IP and 0.00 ERA; Lowest WHIP (0.55)
3 3B Ricardo Sosa Mob Pacing SL with .447 BA, 17 H, 3 HR, and 12 RBI
4 SP Jarrod Parker Vis No decisions, but no runs allowed, 11 K in 9 IP, and 0.56 WHIP
5 OF Collin Cowgill Vis 4th in CL with .469 OBP; leads with 12 runs scored
6 OF Brendan Duffy SB 4th in MWL with .433 BA, 2nd with .528 OBP, 1st with 13 hits
7 1B Bryan Byrne Mob Pacing SL with .568 OBP; Could be ML-ready now
8 OF Chris Rahl Mob Somehow, .560 OBP and .647 SLG are both second on team
9 OF Gerardo Parra Mob Patience was his one weakness, now he's drawn 11 walks in 9 games
10 RP Jeff Dietz Vis 2nd in CL with 3 SV; 0.00 ERA, 1 H, and 8 K in 6.2 IP
11 1B Joshua Whitesell Reno No spot for his .500 OBP or .606 SLG on big league squad?
12 RP Esmerling Vasquez Reno He's baaack! Un-scored upon through 6.2 innings
13 C John Hester Reno .985 OPS and just one strikeout in 22 AB
14 SP Hector Ambriz Mob 1-1 1.54; 2nd in SL with 14 strikeouts
15 OF Evan Frey Mob Odd: leadoff hitter 1st in SL with 12 RBI, plus .390 OBP
16 RP Jason Urquidez Mob Just one hit allowed over 5.1 innings
17 1B Ryne White Vis Batting .324 and leading CL with 12 RBI
18 RP Scott Maine Mob No walk or runs allowed thru five innings
19 C Ed Easley Vis .465 OBP and looking better at both 3B and C
20 SP Wade Miley SB 11 K, 1 BB, and 2.53 ERA in 10.2 IP
21 C James Skelton Mob .447 OBP is no surprise; 2 SB are nice touch
22 SP Ryan Cook SB Sinkerballer is 1-0 1.50 despite just 5 K in 12 IP
23 SP Patrick McAnaney Vis 2-0 2.70 and 10 K in 10 IP
24 3B Augie Murillo Reno Mexican League star is back with .400 OBP and .500 SLG
25 SP Cody Evans Mob 2-0 with just one walk issued in 11.2 IP

Five to Watch:

SP Trevor Harden (South Bend) has 11 strikeouts and one walk in 10 IP, but 12 hits allowed and 4.50 ERA

OF Ollie Linton (Visalia) has a sub-.300 SLG and scary five caught stealings, but a  .451 OBP and is 2nd in CL with 11 runs scored

RP Daniel Schlereth (Mobile) hasn't allowed a hit yet, but has hit a batter and walked three over four innings

SP Barry Enright (Mobile) has no decisions in two starts, but also no walks allowed and a 2.70 ERA

OF Trent Oeltjen (Reno) is tied for team lead with 10 RBI despite a middling .763 OPS

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