Saturday, January 27, 2007

Prospects Bright for NL West

Sax favorite Keith Law profiles six of the majors' top farm systems and the NL West is well-represented:

2. Colorado: Despite some odd first-round selections in recent years (Greg Reynolds, Chris Nelson), the Rockies have still managed to stack their system with promising hitters. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and catcher Chris Iannetta will see a lot of big league time this year, and corner infielder Ian Stewart and outfielder Dexter Fowler are both promising. The system is short on pitching prospects, though, with oft-injured right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez the closest to the majors.

3. Arizona: Former scouting director Mike Rizzo can still claim a good chunk of the credit for the wave of young talent showing up in Phoenix, and there's more coming, including homegrown products like outfielders Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez, catcher Miguel Montero and right-hander Micah Owings, as well as players acquired by GM Josh Byrnes via trades, including second baseman Alberto Callaspo and the system's jewel, center fielder Chris Young.

The Padres rate a dishonorable mention:

Cold Plate Special: Padres
There are a number of barren farm systems, but San Diego's stands head and shoulders above ... er, below the pack.

Since the trade of their best hitting prospect, catcher George Kottaras, for a month of David Wells' time, the Padres no longer have a single prospect who could earn a solid 45 (one grade below average) on the 20-80 grading scale. Their best pitching prospect, 2005 first-rounder Cesar Carrillo, missed the last half of the season with an elbow injury.

They had the first overall pick in the 2004 draft and went for signability, taking shortstop Matt Bush in a first round that also included Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Homer Bailey, Stephen Drew, Josh Fields and Philip Hughes. Their first pick in 2003, Tim Stauffer, hid a shoulder injury until after he was taken and looks like a four-A player at best. And in 2006, they went conservative again in the first round, taking Wake Forest infielder Matt Antonelli, who projects as a utility player in the majors.

The other four: Yankees, Devil Rays, Royals and Indians.