The Arizona Diamondbacks have reason to be excited about their farm system because they have future No. 1 starter Trevor Bauer making a quick path to the big leagues.
Or maybe it's because they have future No. 1 starter Archie Bradley just starting out his pro career.
Come to think of it, it could be because Tyler Skaggs is a future No. 1 who will be ready to knock on the door soon.
Organizations usually feel fortunate to have one top-of-the-rotation guy coming through the system. The D-backs, thanks to the Draft and a trade, have a trio to develop.
"It would be very difficult to put those guys in any kind of order at this point," D-backs farm director Mike Bell said. "They all have a legitimate shot to be No. 1 or No. 2 starters. I don't feel like that's a stretch."
Each is in a different point in his development right now. Skaggs is the one with the most professional time under his belt. The lefty who came over in the Dan Haren trade has seen his stock rise as his stuff has gotten better and he's dominated across several levels. Bauer is newer to the pro game, but he showed flashes of what he can do, competing well in Double-A in his first summer after signing. He could see Arizona this season, with Skaggs not too far behind. Bradley might be a high schooler who has yet to throw an official professional pitch, but even though he's further away than the other two, don't be shocked if he moves faster than expected. He stood out during his time in instructional league play.
"All those guys, to have three of them, it's a good position to be in," Bell said. "They're all hard workers, too. They're all mature kids. They want to be great. They understand it will take a lot of work."
The scary thing is that there's more than just those three on the mound in this system. The Double-A rotation in Mobile that won a Southern League title in 2011 had five legitimate prospects in it at one point. Charles Brewer and Patrick Corbin, the second lefty in the Haren deal, may only be mid-to-back rotation types, but they are future big leaguers. It speaks volumes of a system's depth that a top prospect like Jarrod Parker, who also pitched in Mobile, can be traded without it causing a huge impact.
Then add in David Holmberg lower in the system as well as 2011 draftees like Andrew Chafin and Anthony Meo and it is bordering on the ridiculous. For Bell and the D-backs, though, it's simply sublime.
"It's throughout the system," Bell said. "We're in pretty good shape."
Top 20 Prospects
The arms may get most of the attention, and rightfully so, but that doesn't mean there aren't any interesting bats in the system's Top 20 these days. And they're inching ever so closer to the big leagues.
Matt Davidson had a big year in the California League in 2011, then went home. Then the organization called and asked him to go to Mobile for the Double-A Southern League playoffs, where he promptly went 3-for-9 with a home run. Bobby Borchering also put up some big power numbers at Class A Advanced Visalia and reported early in Arizona to start working for the 2012 season. He and shortstop Chris Owings should hit Mobile soon.
A.J. Pollock shook off missing the entire 2010 season with a very solid campaign in Mobile in 2011. Adam Eaton, in his first full season, joined Pollock in that Double-A outfield. Both should have an impact in Arizona soon. So while the pitchers may be the strength of the system, it's looking like they should get ample run support at the highest level, too.
d-backs' top prospects
Chase Anderson, RHP: The D-backs drafted Anderson out of the University of Oklahoma in the ninth round of the 2009 Draft and his 2010 season made it look like a potential steal. But after posting a 3.32 ERA and 9.5 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate (not to mention a 2.1 walks rate), he missed nearly all of the 2011 season with elbow trouble. He didn't need surgery and he's ready to go in 2012, featuring perhaps the best changeup in the system.
Marc Krauss, OF: Krauss was very much on the radar a year ago, coming in at No. 7 on the D-backs' preseason Top 10 prospects list after a big year in the California League. But the 2009 second-rounder didn't have a particularly noteworthy 2011 season in Double-A, making his stock drop a bit. A hard worker, Krauss came in early on his own to get extra work and he's ready to put 2011 behind him and climb back up the charts.
Hitter of the Year
Davidson will take his small sample of experience in the Southern League playoffs and show that his 2011 season was not a California League mirage, leading the system in RBIs and slugging percentage.
Pitcher of the Year
Tough choice, but making the assumption that Bauer spends a good amount of time in the big leagues and Bradley has a small amount of first-year bumps, Skaggs will lead the way. Unless he, too, ends up in Arizona, he could vie for the organizational pitching triple crown.