AZL Diamondbacks

League: Arizona League (Rookie)

Record: 29-27 (5th of 13 teams in the Arizona League)

Runs Scored: 262 (11th of 13 teams)

Runs Allowed: 280 (5th of 13 teams)

Recap: despite some nice individual seasons, the Diamondbacks struggled to score runs with any semblance of consistency. The team clearly lacked any sense of serious power, with the highest homerun total on the team standing at three (Yeisson Rosario). They also struggled to move runners around with no one outside of Matt McPhearson posting double-digit steals. In a league where pitching and defense can be shaky, you’d like to see more damage done by hitters on nightly basis.

There were some strong pitching performances that allowed the sluggish offense to stay in the game. Brad Keller, Ryan Doran and Sean Furney were all successful starters while there were some notable bullpen seasons from Bud Jeter and Justin Van Grouw. Given the paltry offensive production, it was often up to these guys to shoulder the load and they were clearly up for the challenge.

Offensive MVP: Justin Williams, OF

The AZL DBacks were clearly led b Justin Williams, who tore up the Arizona League all year long and got two late-season promotions before the end of his campaign. Williams posted a .345/.398/.446 line in 37 games, upholding his reputation as one of the best high school bats available in the 2013 draft. He’s known for his raw power but didn’t showcase it frequently this year, hitting only one home run in 208 at-bats. He did hit 18 double, though, and that’s a good sign as those will end up as home runs down the road. Would like to see him walk more, but it was a great start for Williams.

Runner Up: Jamie Westbrook, MI

Although he played many games at short this year, Westbrook is likely a second baseman long-term. That’s fine, though, as it appears that his bat can carry him. He triple-slashed .292/.373/.468 over 40 games with eight doubles, eight triples and a home run. Best of all, his 21:17 strikeout to walk ratio shows that he understands the strikezone, can make consistent contact and has some pop. I like his quick, compact swing and he’s a strong kid despite being only 5’9”. He even held his own in a late-season promotion to the Pioneer League.

Pitcher MVP: Ryan Doran, RHP

Doran went undrafted in 2013 out of San Diego State but signed shortly after the draft with the DBacks. He was old for the league but did a nice job of proving that he belongs in minor league baseball. He was the team’s most useful, effective starter by posting a 1.07 WHIP over a team-leading 56.1 innings. He dominated, as he should have, over younger competition with his 64:6 strikeout to walk ratio. He was good in three starts in Hillsboro after a promotion and should see South Bend next season.

Runner Up: Justin Van Grouw, RHP

The big righty out of Wake Forest signed after the draft as a free agent, just like Doran above him. He pitched mostly out of the ‘pen this season but was stingy, posting a 1.01 WHIP over 27.2 inning. He also did damage in the strikeout department, racking up 38 K’s while only allowing five walks. Like Doran, Van Grouw was old for the league but did what he needed to do in the Arizona League. He scuffled as a starter after a late-season promotion to the Pioneer League.

Top 5 Prospects

Justin Williams, OF – the combination of bat-to-ball skills and reported raw power make Williams a top prospect for the organization. He’s a big, thick, athletic kid who put together a great rookie campaign after being drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft. I’d like to see him walk more but the strikeouts weren’t horrendous and he’ll continue to grow at the plate.

Jamie Westbrook, MI – the quick, strong, athletic middle infielder showed a nice combination of pop and speed in his debut. Known as a hard worker, Westbook’s future looks very bright. Plate discipline appears to be a strength, and when paired with his contact abilities, it appears that he’ll up for a challenge in 2014. He’s not a shortstop, but he can hit.

Brad Keller, RHP – have to love the demeanor of this kid. Throws hard and attacks hitters, plus has an advanced changeup for a prospect of his age. The slider has a chance to average or better and he looks like someone who could serve as a high-leverage reliever if pitching as a starter doesn’t work out. Considering he’s coming from a small high school that lacked much competition, 2013 was success.

Sergio Alcantara, SS – Alcantara is a shortstop all the way and while he didn’t hit for much power, he can clearly judge the strikezone. He only struck out 36 times in 169 at-bats while walking 44 times. The clarity of the zone didn’t necessarily translate to a strong hitting performance as he hit only .243, but he’s super young at only 17-year old. He’ll physically grown and can hopefully continue to mature with the bat.

Ryan Doran, RHP – while Doran had an excellent debut with the AZL Diamondbacks, it was less impressive when one considers that he was an undrafted free agent who played at the age of 23 against mostly teenagers. The numbers were good and he was durable for the team, so we’ll have to wait and see how he performs at higher levels before knowing if he’s a great pitcher or was just able to overmatch younger competition.

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