Highlighting top Diamondbacks prospects for '09

We are breaking down the top five prospects for each organization for 2009, taking into consideration: games, at-bats, innings and major-league service time. We expect these players to have rookie status remaining heading into next year.

According to MLB rules: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list)."

Note: Statistics are those at each stop in the minors this season and age represents how old they will be on opening day 2009.

Arizona Diamondbacks

It has to be really hard to swallow missing the postseason this year. The D-Backs put a lot of their eggs in the basket to win in 2008.

They traded almost all of their top prospects for Dan Haren and sent Carlos Quentin to the White Sox in an ill-advised deal to get another piece -- Chris Carter -- to deal to the A's for Haren. Then, they dealt Micah Owings , Dallas Buck and Wilkin Castillo -- future major leaguers, all -- to the Reds for Adam Dunn .

The D-Backs are still a stock to buy, because of all their young talent still developing in the major leagues, but their farm system was robbed blind. One bright spot, Max Scherzer -- who exhausted his rookie eligibility this year -- should be another big-time arm in an already front-loaded rotation.

1. RH SP Jarrod Parker , 20

Parker held up nicely as a teenage professional and should continue to get stronger as he grows. If you are looking for an elite pitching prospect who will fly under the radar a little because he is a few years away, Parker is your guy. We see him opening 2009 in high Class A, but his talent suggests he could handle the majors by the end of the year. He will be one to watch the progress of closely next summer.

Team W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO BAA
Double-A 12 5 3.44 24 24 0 0 0 117 2/3 113 56 45 8 33 117 1.01 .251

2. RH SP Cesar Valdez, 24

Proximity and need actually makes Valdez the best pitching prospect in the system right now. Valdez had a breakthrough year and could even compete for a rotation spot in spring training. Failing that, Valdez will have a shot at impacting any Fantasy league before the end of 2009. His ceiling is not quite that high, but he could still pay some immediate dividends.

Team W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO BAA
High A 10 3 2.53 15 15 1 1 0 96 88 36 27 5 16 80 1.50 .238
Double-A 3 5 4.06 12 12 0 0 0 64 1/3 63 30 29 2 23 60 1.84 .261
Totals 13 8 3.14 27 27 1 1 0 160 1/ 151 66 56 7 39 140 1.62 .248

3. 1B Josh Whitesell , 26

Whitesell strikes out too much, but the power makes him intriguing, especially if they decide to move Conor Jackson to the outfield. Whitesell could make the team as a reserve first baseman, but his inexperience and tough/deep position makes him someone to expect little out of in the Fantasy near term.

Team AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLUG OPS
Triple-A .328 127 475 86 156 36 0 26 110 270 74 136 1 2 .425 .568 0.993
Majors .286 7 7 1 2 0 0 1 1 5 1 2 0 0 .444 .714 1.159

4. 3B Jamie D'Antona , 26

It was a banner year for the "Three Amigos" -- Carlos Quentin , Jackson and D'Antona -- who used to mash together in the lower levels. Quentin was an AL MVP candidate, Jackson made great strides as a run producer and D'Antona ... well ... at least his Triple-A numbers were outstanding. D'Antona can hit, but we are not sure there is a position he can play in Arizona at this point -- catcher, first base or third base. Maybe they move him to the outfield and/or use him as a super utility man who plays three or four games a week.

Team AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLUG OPS
Triple-A .365 110 419 69 153 35 1 21 79 253 30 64 1 0 .405 .604 1.009
Majors .176 18 17 2 3 0 0 0 1 3 2 4 0 0 .263 .176 0.440

5. OF Gerardo Parra , 21

He had a relatively disappointing season, considering his hype, but his bat speed suggests he will improve as he matures. Right now he is little more than an NL-only Rotisserie prospect, but his prospect name makes him someone to watch closely in the minors in the first half.

Team AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
High A .301 50 196 26 59 8 4 2 19 81 23 31 12 4 .381 .413 .794
Double-A .275 73 265 35 73 14 6 4 33 111 24 34 16 9 .341 .419 .760
Totals .286 123 461 61 132 22 10 6 52 192 47 65 28 13 .358 .416 .775

Best of the rest: SP Tony Barnette, SP Brooks Brown , 3B Rusty Ryal , 2B Taylor Harbin, SP Matt Torra, SP Trevor Harden, SP Billy Buckner , SS Pedro Ciriaco, SP Barry Enright , 1B Ryne White, C Rossmel Perez, RP Bryan Shaw, RP Daniel Schlereth, SP Wade Miley, SP Juan Gutierrez , SP Hector Ambriz , RP Reid Mahon , SS Reynaldo Navarro, SP Wes Roemer , SS Justin Parker, SP Esmerling Vasquez , OF Collin Cowgill, SS Mark Hallberg, RP Jailen Peguero , SP Daniel Strange, 1B Javier Brito , RP Connor Robertson , RP Leyson Septimo, SP Matt Green, SP Sean Morgan and SP Kevin Eichhorn.

2008 rookies to exhaust eligibility: SP Max Scherzer , RP Leo Rosales (service time) and OF Alex Romero .

Last year's top five here: Scherzer, OF Carlos Gonzalez (traded to OAK for Dan Haren ), SP Greg Smith (traded to OAK for Haren), SP Brett Anderson (traded to OAK for Haren) and OF Aaron Cunningham (traded to OAK for Haren).

You can e-mail Emack your Fantasy Baseball prospect questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: D-Backs prospects in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.

Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Crowdsourcing.org... Full Bio

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