League: Southern League (Double-A)
Record: 79-60 (1st out of 10 teams in the Southern League)
Runs Scored: 563 (4th of 10 teams)
Runs Allowed: 478 (1st of 10 teams)
Recap: it was nearly a three-peat in Alabama as the BayBears fell one win short of the Southern League crown. Down 2-1 in the series, they forced a decisive Game 5 behind an excellent start from Bo Schultz and Jake Barrett did his thing slamming the door. In the final game of the series, a depleted pitching staff did what it could to keep the Birmingham Braves at bay but ultimately fell 4-2. It was yet another excellent season in the history of the Mobile franchise as they took the Southern League title in 2011 and 2012 before finishing runner-up in 2013. You have to like what you see from the Diamondbacks in the high minors.
At the dish, the team had some nice performance, albeit from generally older, more experienced hitters. Justin Greene led the team in average (.308) and was second on the team in steals (31). Ender Inciarte edged him out for the stolen base lead when he took 43 bags. In the power department, Nick Evans led the team in doubles (24) and home runs (19) while slugging .449. Defensively, shortstop Nick Ahmed won the Southern League Gold Glove award, rounding out a nice season for the position players.
Mobile’s pitching staff allowed the fewest runs in the league, leading the way for the deep postseason run. At this point, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the season that Archie Bradley had. What might surprise you, though, is that he was actually fourth on his team in innings pitched and the three guys ahead of him all posted sub-3.50 ERA’s. The starting staff was both durable and effective as the five primary starters accounted for 110 of the teams 139 starts. David Holmberg led the team in innings pitched and put together a strong season with a 1.19 WHIP. Andrew Chafin and Bo Schultz were also reliable and effective starters. In relief, Bryan Woodall, Willy Paredes and Kevin Munson were solid with Jake Barrett joining the team midseason and dominating. The BayBears’ success started on the mound in 2013.
Offensive MVP: Nick Evans, 3B
You might remember Evans from his time with the Mets where he actually played 159 games in the majors between 2008 and 2011. As you can imagine, AA baseball wasn’t much of a challenge for the 26-year old given his past experience. He led the team in doubles (24), homeruns (19) and RBI (81). His .267/.357/.449 line seems impressive but he struck out in nearly 25% of his at-bats, more than you’d like to see from someone with his experience. In fact, contact has always been the issue as it basically ran him out of the majors.
Runner Up: Justin Greene, OF
Greene is another older prospect at 26-years old that put up solid numbers offensively after coming over to the Diamondbacks organization from the White Sox prior to Spring Training. In addition to his 29 extra-base hits, including nine triples, he swiped 31 bases and posted an excellent .377 OBP. He’ spent time at AAA Charlotte in the past, so look for him to see Reno in 2014.
Pitcher MVP: David Holmberg, LHP
Surprise, surprise. Holmberg’s quantity of quality innings was really impressive. He doesn’t dominate the way Bradley does, but he pitches good, clean, efficient baseball. His 1.19 WHIP shows that efficiency as he was tough to hit and limited the walks all year long. Noted as a durable starter, he lived up the billing by throwing over 160 total innings on the year. I’m looking forward to seeing him hone his game in AAA before reaching the Diamondbacks’ rotation full time.
Runner Up: Archie Bradley, LHP
Rated universally as one of the top three pitching prospects in all of baseball, Bradley was excellent in his age 21 season. He struck out 119 batters in 123.1 innings, often overpowering entire lineups. After his quick promotion from Visalia, he was immediately hard to hit for AA batters, allowing just 93 hits over his 21 starts. The only concern for Bradley is his control as he walked 59 batters in AA, good for nearly 4.5 walks per nine innings. That’s something that will have to change in order for him to succeed at the next level.
Top 5 Prospects
- Archie Bradley, LHP – the consensus top prospect in the system, Bradley has the ceiling of a number one with plus raw stuff. The part that goes unnoticed, however, is his lack of command at this point in his career. It’s still very early and time is clearly on his side, but I’m not in favor of rushing him to the majors until the command improves. Be reminded, stuff without command usually gets pounded (see: Tyler Skaggs).
- David Holmberg, LHP – not sexy, not overpowering, but durable and reliable, Holmberg will make a fine middle of the rotation starter in the majors. He’s a guy that will be able to handle 200 innings and pitch efficient baseball once he fully hones his arsenal. The value is in the quantity, not the overpowering quality which may never arrive. I like him as an average number three or above-average number four starter.
- Andrew Chaffin, LHP – 2013 saw Chaffin cut down the walks, which is nice, but the strikeouts fell, too. This may be due to an emphasis on contact rather than striking every batter out. Known for his bulldog demeanor, Chaffin is either going to turn into a back-end starter or a high-leverage reliever. I think he stays in the rotation as long as possible but I’d love to see some of the strikeouts come back. Stay tuned as he could go either way depending on need.
- Ender Inciarte, OF – Inciarte’s an interesting prospect. He held his own in AA at the age of 22 and continued to make a ton of contact (only 47 K’s in 473 AB’s). He needs to walk more but has speed to burn as one of the faster players in the DBacks organization. His legs helped him hit .281 on the year although most of his hits were singles. Once on first, though, he likes to run. Inciarte stole 46 bases between South Bend and Visalia last year, then stole 43 in Mobile in 2013. He’s got some interesting upside as a fourth outfielder/pinch runner type but may never become a big league starter.
- Nick Ahmed, SS – make no bones about it, the value of Ahmed comes with his glove. He can be a passable hitter at times, but he’s never going to wow anyone with the stick. Instead, he’s as steady as they come at shortstop and has a AA gold glove to show for it. He’s a Cliff Pennington, Brendan Ryan type who will make it to The Show for his defense but will never hit enough to be a first division guy.
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