Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10
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Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your D-backs questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Mike from Orrville, OH asks:
Will, In the capsules, you mention that Santos and Hairston may have to move off the middle infield to 3rd and the outfield. If that happens, will Alex Cintron stay at short? Who do you think will actually be the third baseman in the future, Tracy, Santos, or Hairston?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Hey everyone, thanks for being here. I'll move as quickly as possible because I've got a 3 pm appointment.

Will Kimmey: The Diamondbacks don't say it, and you can't blame them, but don't expect either Hairston or Santos to end up in the middle of the diamond. My best guess is Hairston ends up in left, where his bat will play fine. For this year, if Matt Kata, the Opening Day 2b, comes back to earth and Hairston is warm in Tucson, Hairston will get time at 2b, but he just doesn't have the arm slot or actions for the position. He's Luis Gonzalez' eventual LF replacement. Santos has the best bat of any candidates for 3b, so he should win out there. He might just be too big for SS, but would fit better at a reactionary position like 3b, where his cannon arm will play fine. I don't see Cintron as a long-term option as SS, at least not on a first-division team. He really never hit before last season and it will be interesting to see how h does in regular duty. That said, he's the best returning option and I'd take him over Counsell for sure, especially from a cost-effeciency standpoint.

 Q:  Miguel Sanchez from Springfield asks:
Are there any sleeper prospects in the lower levels you like? How about Marland Williams?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Absolutely. I think the Diamondbacks have a surprisingly deep system, and the guys they brought up last year, not including Brandon Webb, were just the tip of the iceberg as far as being good major leaguers. I really like some of their OFers. Williams is so fast, he'll need to trim his strikeouts and lose the uppercut in his swing, but can impact a game with his feet. Josh Kroeger's another interesting OFer with the possibility for avg and power, as is Carlos Gonzlez, an 17-year-old who held his own in the Pioneer League and compares to Bob Abreu. Plus you've still got guys like Jay Garthwaite and Luis Terrero. And that's just the OF. 3b Jamie D'Antona is intriguing from a raw power standpoint, but might need to move to 1b

 Q:  Hope from Tuscon, AZ asks:
Do you view Rosario as having #1 starter potenital as the D-Backs do? I find it a little alarming that with his velocity he didn't strike out more MWL hitters and the fact that he didn't crack the MWL Top 20 Prospects List.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: They feel he can be frontline, and from looking at his repertoire and age--you have to believe the listed age until told otherwise--there's no reason to doubt that. He was the top overall among first-year players in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, and has been solid there against veteran hitters going 3-2, 3.12 with 18 Ks in 26 IP. The K rate is a little troubling, but a lot of young Latin players do struggle in their first trip through the cold weather leagues like the MWL.

 Q:  Ryan from Nashville, TN asks:
Do you still think Mike Gosling can be a part of Arizona's futire rotation after his disasterous year in AAA? What do you see his potential as?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He can, but won't be the difference-maker they thought he was when he was a projected first rounder out of Stanford. NNow they'd be happy if he can be a No. 4-5 starter who eats innings in the rotation as his best attribute is a knack for mixing his pitches. He got off to a slow start last year, then righted his record before losing three straight to end the season. A nice spring and early start in Tucson could give him a quick jump to Arizona. Also, he could break camp as a cost-effective starter, given that the D'backs return only Johnson, Wood and Dessens from last year's rotation and should battle with Edgar Gonzalez and John Patterson for one of those spots if no free agents are signed.

 Q:  michael from round rock asks:
did any AZ pitcher do more to help his chances in 2003 than Dustin Nippert (the somewhat shorter, right-handed Big Unit clone)?...do you see AZ continuing to move him rapidly (Double-A in 2004?) onward and upward?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: This guy will go down as a nice draft-day steal as a 15th round pick in 2002. He dominated the AFL late in the year, showing he could come back from missing time after having a benign tumor removed from under his armpit during the season. His fastball velocity and power curve give Nippert two plus pitches. The D'backs aren't going to be shy with moving their best prospects through the system, as they showed last year in moving Sergio Santos to Double-A in his first full season. Expect a nice prospect rotation at Double-A this year, with Nippert, Rosario, Jared Doyle at the forefront.

 Q:  Erik from Glendale, AZ asks:
What do you think about the future of the Diamondbacks minor league system? Do you think they are using too many of the players in AAA & AA for this season and do they have enough lower level players for years to come?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: As I said earlier, I think Arizona has done a nice job in recent years adding to what formerly was a shallow system hurt by trades, the loss of draft picks through free agent signings and some bad draft luck. For me, they rank among the top third of MLB teams in terms of minor league talent, if not the top 10. I'm not sure what you mean by using too many guys from the higher levels, but if you mean putting them in the majors and trading them for big league help, that's exactly what a farm system if for: developing major leaguers (Wood, Hairston) or players to trade for major leaguers (Sexson deal). They should keep getting guys for the future as evidence by solid drafts the last two years, guys like Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin can be considered solid prospects in the lower levels.

 Q:  Rafferty from Niceville, FL asks:
Aside from Bruney, what other Dbacks prospects have the closer arm andor mentality?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: The D'backs, unlike a lot of other teams, like developing closers in the minors. They have a bunch of guys with plus fastballs and one other solid pitch as well as the aggressiveness and short memory needed for closing games. Brandon Medders tops out at 96 with a plus slider. His stats are deceiving because of home-road splits and a hitter-friendly home park (309 average at home the last two years, .209 on the road). Dustin Glant, Pete Sikaras (who is available in the Rule 5 draft) and Matt Wilkinson are all nice closer prospects who could follow in the lineage of Byung-hun Kim, Bret Prinz, Mike Koplove, Jose Valverde, Oscar Villarreal--all of whom collected saves in the Arizona system.

Will Kimmey: Sorry for the mistake, I've called Brandon Webb, the Arizona pitcher, Brandon Wood, the Angels SS prospect from the 2003 draft, three times. Sorry.

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
Could Conor Jackson start in A Lancaster or AA El Paso to start 2004?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Probably high A, but Arizona will be aggressive with him, sending Jackson over to El Paso as soon as he shows he's ready. That seems to be more of their MO in recent drafts, picking more advanced players and shooting them through the system quicker. They missed on some toolsy high school picks further back in their short history and seem more reticent when it comes to drafting those types now.

 Q:  michael from round rock asks:
any chance a minor league CF (Luis Terrero or Victor Hall perhaps) will ever get an opportunity to play with the D'backs?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I think there are plenty of candidates, as evidenced by all those CFers I named earlier. Finley has just one year left on his deal, and Arizona hopes to see Williams, Kroeger or Terrero claim that job. Terrero just can't seem to stay healthy. He shows flashes of all five tools but just can't stay healthy as his thin but sculpted physique is so tight that things seem to pop all the time. He's missed time with injuries to his rib cage, ankle, groin, hamstring, hamate bone over the last three seasons, and then was hospitalized in November when a blot clot led to swelling in his left arm. On the plus side, he's hit for two cycles in the 2002 season, cranked a walk-off homer and three-run bomb on back-to-back major league spring training games in 2003 before tying for the minor league lead in triples. With all the OF depth, Hall doesn't seem to have much of a future in the organization.

 Q:  Dave from Maryland asks:
What is the future of Carlos Quentin?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Probably as a slugging RF in Arizona in two-three years. He had a plus arm before Tommy JOhn surgery and many guys come back with more arm strength after surgery. As for hitting, I don't think that will be much of a problem either. Stanford's produced a ton of great players, and Quentin ranks first or second in at least six offensive categories. He's been hitting off tees and just started to hit live pitching recently, working out near Palo Alto as he finishes his college degree in an amazing 11 quarters. He should be ready to play the OF by the second week of the season.

 Q:  Kris Arthur from Downers Grove, IL asks:
It seemed to me (obviously not to you guys) that Brandon Webb somewhat came out of nowhere for the Diamondbacks last year. They seem to be very good at finding pitching... do you see anybody they might pull from the minors this year who will impact the major league team?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Edgar Gonzalez has the stuff and mentality to succeed and could be their top rookie starter this season. Don't expect another Brandon Webb redux, that can't happen each year. Brian Bruney, a closer-type with nasty stuff, might make the biggest contribution. He could be an 8th inning guy right away, and his presence, along with Valverde should allow Arizona to move Matt Mantei to save some salary.

 Q:  Damian Elliott from Indianapolis asks:
I'm just curious, where do you see S.Santos,S.Hairston, and E. Gonzalez starting out next year? Also Does Edgar Gonzalez have the stuff to be maybe a #1 or #2 Starter? Thank you and Have a Merry Christmas.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Double-A for Santos, Triple-A for Hairston and most likely the majors for Gonzalez. He's probably more middle of the rotation because while he has a solid repertiore, he also tends to nibble at times, trying to be too fine. He'll need to be a bit more aggressive. Hope your holidays and Festivus are solid as well.

 Q:  Hope from Tuscon, AZ asks:
What are your opinions of Sergio Lizarraga and Jared Doyle, 2 pitchers on the South Bend team last year?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Doyle's a middle of the rotation guy, and a former JMU Duke. He throws a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 94 and also adds an above-average breaking ball and a solid changeup. His deceptive delivery makes it tough for hitters to get a good look at him and his pitches have above-average movement to compensate for less than pinpoint command. Doyle often nibbles early in the count and falls behind, resulting in good hitters' pitches and too many walks. Lizarraga has always had great command of his three-pitch repertoire and a knack for pitching beyond his years, but the extra strength helped raise his fastball from the 87-89 mph range up to the low 90s as he occasionally hit 94. He also throws a solid slider and a changeup. He might end up in a swing role not unlike Miguel Batista had, but is better in the pen.

 Q:  Damian Elliott from Indianapolis asks:
Where Does Jesus Cota fit into the D-Backs Future?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: With Sexson now in the fold, given that they sign him longterm, Cota will have to get used to the OF. He won the triple crown in the Pioneer League in 2001 as a 1b, but struggled last year with hip problems that sapped his power, so we'll give him a mulligan. He hits sort of like fellow Hermosillo, Mexico, native Erubiel Durazo, but doesn't have the same plate discipline.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Hi Will. Three quick Q's for you: First, do you think Chad Tracy will ever win a NL batting championship? Secondly, Santos has been on the fast track. Do you see him getting considerable time in AAA in 2004? Last what happened to Chris Snyder's bat in AA?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Don't know that Red Hot Chad Tracy will ever be Tony Gwynn, but he can probably give you .300 a good number of times in his career. He makes great contact and was adding power in the DR this winter, with 4 HRs already. Santos spent the second part of 03 in Double-A so he'd be eligible for the AFL this offseason. If he keeps stroking it at Double-A to begin the year, he certainly will get a quick bump to trips. Snyder has never had the conditioning to play a full season, and has slowed down at the end of each of his pro campaigns. That's an issue the D-backs have stressed with him, and he knows he must build up the stamina to catch 120-130 games if he's going to play at the BOB. He's still odds-on as the longterm solution behind the plate, with Hammock supplementing as a C-3b-OF.

 Q:  John Bristor from birdsonthebat.com asks:
What's up with Chad Tracy? The Diamondbacks never seem to give a chance to corner guys from Tracy to dumping Alex Cabrera.
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Never compare Tracy and 1b Alex Cabrera. Cabrera was pretty old for the Texas League a few years back, and was on there in the first place to provide protection for Jack Cust. You have to think he'd be in the majors and not Japan if any team thought he could help. Tracy's a legit guy who can play defense at third and really swing it. He's also a gritty gamer and won't wilt under Bob Brenly the way Lyle Overbay did last year. He's a sleeper to take the 3b job from Shea Hillenbrand, who's not as good a fielder, this year.

 Q:  Jeff from Lancaster, CA asks:
I was surprised to see that Josh Kroeger was left off the top prospect list. He's one of the younger guys on the AA team and has played very well. What do you think lies in store for him? Thanks
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Kroeger just missed, he's No. 12. He had a nice bounce-back year repeating high A, but then seemed to relapse into his plate discipline struggles after moving up. Still, he's a solid defender who can play CF or RF that profiles as a .280 hitter with 25 HR power. His swing and highest potential ceiling compare to David Justice, but Kroeger really needs to make more consistent adjustments.

 Q:  Tey Dyson from Houston asks:
What do you think of Jarred Ball? He put together a solid season in South Bend at only 20. With Finley getting up there in age, do you think he has a chance to be the Diamondbacks center of the future?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He's a very interesting player. He's got great wheels and is a solid defensive player in CF. He's lower in the system, that some of the other CFs we've mentioned, but I probably should have tossed his name out here earlier. Plate discipline is a key improvement area for him to work on next season.

 Q:  Brian from New Mexico asks:
Would Chris Capuano and Jorge De La Rosa have rated on this list if it weren't for the trade? If so, where?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: De la Rosa would have been at the end of the top 10, like in the 8-10 range. Capuano was originally in the top 30, as I compiled the list before the deal. He was No. 22.

 Q:  dfan from chicago asks:
What is the Diamondback future for Corey Meyers and how about Casey Daigle and Mike Gosling in 2004
 A: 

Will Kimmey: We've discussed Gosling, so we'll take the other two. Daigle led the Texas League in innings pitched and has a nice assortment of pitches. Maturity and mental preparation are the biggest keys for him. Meyers was one of those unfortunate draft picks from a few years back. Arizona was primed to take Ben Sheets in the first round, but switched to Meyers after a nice power display in a predraft workout at the BOB. He's a very nice guy and hard worker, but has fallen to the status of organizational first baseman.

 Q:  Patrick from Chicago asks:
Any thoughts on where Brian Barden fits in at their overload of players at 3B or if he is even in the D-Backs long term plans? Will a trade be required for the former Beaver to get his shot with Santos, Tracy and Hillebrand blocking his path?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Barden had a pretty ugly OPS under .700 for a corner infielder last season, and this was in a strong hitters; league. He must show more power if he's to advance as a 3b. He's likely the best defensive 3b in the system, in a close call with Tracy, and might be able to play 2b in a pinch. I don't think Arizona would make trades to leave Barden as their only 3b option, especially with their depth. It's more likely he could be traded somewhere else where a team really needs to fill a hole there, but ultimately he doesn't seem like a first division 3b, though his story and accolades at OSU are impressive for a lightly recruited player out of HS.

 Q:  Miguel Sanchez from Springfield asks:
It's pretty common knowledge the Diamondbacks changed their drafting philosophy a few years ago, going from high school to mostly college players. Is the success of their system due entirely due to the change in philosophy, or did they also hire new scouts, player development types, etc...?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Farm director Tommy Jones is an original front office member, but scouting director Mike Rizzo came in for the 2000 draft and changed the philosophy. However, a lot of the guys who made impacts last season--Hammock, Kata, Cintron--were picked by Donnie Mitchell, the former scoutinf director.

 Q:  James from Guthrie asks:
Hi Will, What are yout thoughts on Adriano Rosario as a Prospect. And how fast do you think Conmor Jackson and Jamie D'Antona are going to move? Thanks
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I like Rosario. He could reach the majors with three plus pitches, including a mid-90s heater. That's plenty for me. Jackson, as I said before, should shoot through the system provided he keeps hitting. Some scouts question if he'll develop much more than 20 HR power, but are sure he'll hit for average. D'Antona is a little more raw, but can flat hit balls not only over the fence, but over the river running behind the fence. He's got a big arm but little range at third for now, but his thumping bat should carry him quickly as well. These are both guys from top-level college programs--Cal and Wake Forest--who can and will be challenged.

 Q:  Josh from Irvine, CA asks:
Is Santos comparable to AROD? Will C.Tracy get a shot ever?? Thanks,
 A: 

Will Kimmey: No player is comparable to the game's best one. They both are tall SS of Latin decent with pop, but Santos isn't a gold glove defender and probably will have to move to 3b or the OF. I'd say his offensive game compares better to that of Miguel Tejada as both have 35 HR power but are free-swinging enough to fight to get a .275 average. I say Tracy is playing in the majors by at least midseason. If Arizona doesn't go with him this year, he's nice trade bait--a .300-hitting third baseman with solid defense.

 Q:  James from Guthrie asks:
Will do you know what the Dbacks are looking for in the player to be named later deals?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Guys who are Rule 5 eligible because they are not on 40-man rosters. That's who will be coming over. The teams just want to wait until after the Rule 5, which is next Monday, to make sure they don't get nabbed there. Several recent PTBN deals should be completed a week after the Rule 5.

 Q:  Thom from Ann Arbor asks:
How do you view the futures of Craig Ansman and Chris Snyder?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I bet some team that loves stats grabs Ansman in the Rule 5. He's got big offensive numbers but really isn;t much defensively. Snyder has always been a great catch-and-throw guy, and the D'backs think he can hit 20 bombs with a 260 average. That'd be nice to have behind the plate for any team.

 Q:  James from Guthrie asks:
Will Is Jerry Gil back to being a solid Prospect? Will Lino Garcia ever come around and put things together??
 A: 

Will Kimmey: He did hit .260 and did fine with the bat over the end of the year. It's hard still to see if he'll be just another defensive-minded SS with no bat, but he's young still. I want him to hit for a full season before I believe. Garcia's close to falling into the abyss of players with oodles of tools who can't put them together for production.

 Q:  Mark from Phoenix asks:
What is your opinion of Greg Aquino and Phil Stockman?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Aquino has been around the org for a while, originally signing as a SS. He can hit 100 on the radar gun and has a nice power slider. He doesn;t have a third pitch but it shouldn't stop him from becoming an effective late-inning reliever. Stockman's big and tall and took a while to hone his mechanics with a 6-7 frame. He gets up to 96, but can really sink his fastball in 91-93 range. Both could be intriguing bullpen guys with Stockman still holding hope for the rotation.

 Q:  Sulsal from Toronto asks:
Did you think that Brandon Webb was going to be this good so quickly
 A: 

Will Kimmey: No, and if you shot some truth serum into the Arizona front office, I think they'd say the same. But it's OK because you need a few surprises to go along with the disappointments that all teams face. The D'backs have three brutal parks to pitch in along their minor league system, with the last three stops being very hitter-friendly, and especially Lancaster and El Paso. So sometimes you might not be able to tell from pure numbers how well a guy's throwing.

 Q:  Mike from Scottsdale asks:
While I completely agree with your assesment of Scott Hairstons bat having impact potential you have clearly glossed over his weaknesses. I have watched him play many times and to say he is near an average defender is ridiculous! He can't catch a cold. Furthermore his desire to play hard is non existent. He never runs anything out and can only be characterized as a dog. He is the complete opposite of all the overachievers the d-backs have brought to the bigs in the last couple seasons (kata, hamock, etc.) He cant play 2b so where will he play in the bigs and will his character ever fit with the other hard nosed types?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: I've heard the same things in different places, and did mention them. It's tough to kill a guy's character when you don't know them well, and just seeing them three times or so isn't enough. I had to rely on the D'backs, who don't have a major problem with his makeup. Some scouts and opponents have been turned off by what seems like a major league attitude, but sometimes teammates and organization officials don't mind a cocky confidence as much, especially from a player with Hairston's skills. Barry Bonds, anyone?

 Q:  Mark from Phoenix asks:
Are Nippert and Rosario the only two potential front of the rotation starters?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Probably, but when I say that I mean guys who can be Schilling or Johnson-type difference makers as true No. 1s. There aren't 30 of those guys in the majors now, so to have 2 potential ones in one system is a luxury.

 Q:  Brittany from Fresno, CA asks:
Do you think Chad Tracy is a better long-term solution than Shea Hillenbrand? If not, do you think Chad Tracy would be effective at another position?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Yes, he's better with the glove by a good stretch. Hillenbrand might have a little more power, but it's probably now more than 5-8 HRs over a season. Tracy is an excellent hitter and should make up for that difference with a better average. Neither walk much, so that's a push. Tracy played first in college, but he's not moving Sexson, so no other position works for him, especially not when Hairston likely goes to LF.

 Q:  David Cooper from Phoenix asks:
Do you think there is a good chance that the Dbacks will lose any players in the rule V draft? Ansman, Hall, Beltran Perez...
 A: 

Will Kimmey: All three are interesting and likely possibilities. You've done your homework. I still like Pete Sikaras the best. He had 23 saves in an ugly Lancaster park for pitchers. He's 92-96 with a power slider at 84. That qualifies as a nice one-inning reliever for a lot of clubs. It's a similar one-two as two successful Rule 5ers from last year, Aqulino Lopez and DJ Carrasco.

 Q:  Coop from Phoenix asks:
What do you think of Matt Chico?
 A: 

Will Kimmey: Chico's intriguing and Arizona thought he was a steal in the third round. He was a HS hot shot and went to Southern Cal, then Palomar JC before ultimately deciding school wasn't for him. He's still a smart pitcher, and can from his heater up to 96 at times. He compares favorably to Mike Hampton, non-Colorado version.

Will Kimmey: That's all the time I've got. Thanks for the great questions. It will be interesting to see how this club goes in the longterm, with all the deferred salary they'll have to pay out, the farm system will be a must for cheap talent. But doing that while competing in a division with the Giants and Dodgers, and the Padres in a new ballpark will be difficult.