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Bradley, Owings make D-backs proud
Davidson parlays All-Star campaign into Major League debut
10/03/2013 6:00 AM ET
Chris Owings was named the D-backs' Minor League Player of the Year.
Chris Owings was named the D-backs' Minor League Player of the Year. (Kenny Karst/MiLB.com)

This offseason, MiLB.com is honoring the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in their organization. We're taking a look at each team to determine the outstanding seasons in Minor League Baseball. Select a team from the dropdown below.

The D-backs were the only Major League team to finish at exactly .500 this season. And in many ways, their Minor League affiliates reflected that degree of success. Several clubs went down swinging in league championship series, while others -- most notably Triple-A Reno -- fell short, despite producing some quality players.

In all, D-backs fans have to be happy with the continued development of Archie Bradley and Chris Owings. And developing bats like Brandon Drury, Gerson Montilla and Matt Davidson could give Arizona its first true slugging prospect since Paul Goldschmidt.

Reno hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game this summer but finished last in its division with a 60-84 record, the second-worst in the Pacific Coast League. Short-season Hillsboro went 34-42 in its inaugural season and Rookie-level Missoula missed the Pioneer League playoffs after going 31-42. The Arizona League Diamondbacks finished third with a 29-27 mark.

There is good news, however. Double-A Mobile won the Southern League South Division and pushed Birmingham to five games in the Championship Series before falling short of a three-peat. Class A Advanced Visalia earned the California League North Division Wild Card but lost in the second round of the playoffs and Class A South Bend captured the Midwest League first-half Eastern Division crown before getting swept by Quad Cities in the Championship Series.

D-backs Organization All-Stars

Catcher -- Tuffy Gosewisch, Reno (72 games), Arizona (14 games): The D-backs are high on Gosewisch's defense, plus he hit .284 at Triple-A and played 14 games in the Majors.

"He threw out 50 percent of baserunners and his overall defense, what he does for the pitching staff, how he blocks balls, he just shuts down the running game," said D-backs director of player development Mike Bell.

Honorable mention -- Stryker Trahan, Missoula (59 games): Besides having an awesome name, Trahan showed good production in his second season with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 59 games. The 2012 first-round pick finished the year as the organization's No. 9 prospect. ... Ed Easley, Reno (87 games): The 2007 first-round pick hit a career-best .334 with six homers, 49 RBIs, a .394 on-base percentage and 98 hits in 87 games with the Aces. He led all Triple-A players in August with a .402 average.



First baseman -- Nick Evans, Mobile (133 games): The 27-year-old spent parts of four straight seasons in the Majors with the Mets from 2008-11, but after appearing in only 21 games in 2012, he found himself at Double-A. A Southern League All-Star, Evans hit .267 and led the system with 19 homers and 81 RBIs while compiling a .357 OBP. He also ranked third in the Southern League in RBIs.

"He was huge for us. He's an older guy with Major League experience, so he helped a lot of our younger players along with what he did," Bell said. "He's got outstanding character and he put together a good year. Hopefully, there's a place for him in our organization next year."

Honorable mention -- Arizona had a few productive bats -- some older than others -- at first base in 2013, including another former Met in Mike Jacobs, who batted .304 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs at Reno after spending time in Mexico (toss in his Mexican League totals and he finished .296/28/95). Kila Ka'aihue opted out of his contract after hitting .313 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs through May at Triple-A, while younger prospects like Ryan Court (.315-11-67) and Rudy Flores (.274-19-64) enjoyed solid seasons.

Second base -- Gerson Montilla, Visalia (134 games): The 23-year-old posted some of the best production numbers in the system in 2013, and he did it as a middle infielder. Montilla hit .282 and tied Evans and Flores with an organization-leading 19 homers. He added 72 RBIs, stole eight bases and finished with 153 hits and 90 runs in 134 California League games.

"He's put together a couple of good years," Bell said. "He's a good hitter, he's got some sock in his bat. He just quietly keeps going about his business with good numbers. He's a good-looking second baseman, so we'll keep pushing him."

Honorable mention -- South Bend's Fidel Pena batted .256 with 10 homers, 75 RBIs and 18 steals in the Midwest League. And he hit for the cycle on his 22nd birthday.

Third base -- Matt Davidson, Reno (115 games), Arizona (31 games): Arizona's No. 2 prospect made his Major League debut in August after a solid Triple-A campaign in which he hit .280 with 17 homers, 74 RBIs, a .350 OBP and 55 runs scored. A 2009 first-round pick, Davidson also won Home Run Derby at the Triple-A All-Star Game and was named MVP of the All-Star Futures Game. His numbers with the big club didn't translate too well (18 hits and 24 strikeouts in 76 at-bats), but being 22, he's got time to develop. In fact, Bell said he thinks Davidson has a chance to make the Opening Day roster.

"Outstanding," Bell said. "Not many times a guy goes to Triple-A and does what he did offensively, so that's definitely a good thing. He was impressive. Definitely an outstanding year and defensively, he was outstanding. Seventeen errors for a young player is exceptional, and he got better as the year went on."

Shortstop -- Chris Owings, Reno (125 games), Arizona (20 games): Owings authored a memorable season in which he was named Pacific Coast League MVP, a postseason All-Star and the D-backs' Minor League Player of the Year. The team's No. 3 prospect also made his big league debut, hitting .291 in 20 games after batting .330 with a dozen homers, 81 RBIs and 20 steals at Reno. The 22-year-old repeats as an Organization All-Star after ranking second in the system in RBIs and taking home D-backs' Organizational Player of the Month honors in April, May and June.

"He's at a premium position, he plays it well, he hit all year," Bell said. "He's a young shortstop who, I think, can start at short. And we've got a lot of good options there, but he continues to impress."

Outfield

Tom Belza, Visalia (128 games), Reno (two games): The Oklahoma State product has turned into a pretty nice asset, going from a 43rd-round pick in 2010 to hitting over .300 and reaching Triple-A this summer. Belza, 24, bats left and throws right-handed. He hit .304 with 10 homers, 63 RBIs, a dozen steals and a .369 OBP, mostly with Visalia. The D-backs will see if he can continue that trend at Double-A, with Bell noting he did not commit an error all season.

Justin Greene, Mobile (117 games): After slugging 24 homers from 2010-11, Greene's power disappeared this summer, but his knack for getting on base (and stealing a few more) has improved. While the 27-year-old hit just one homer in 380 at-bats, he batted .308 with 19 doubles, nine triples, 30 RBIs, 42 walks and 31 stolen bases. Greene led the Southern League in batting, while his .377 OBP helped set the table for Mobile and earned him Southern League mid- and postseason All-Star nods.

David Peralta, Visalia (51 games): A converted pitcher signed out of an independent league this summer, Peralta raked at Visalia -- he hit .346 with 42 RBIs and a .370 OBP in 51 games. The lefty-swinging outfielder totaled 72 hits and opened some eyes in the system.

"We purchased his contract, [our scouts] knew about him, so we took a chance on him and he's been a very pleasant surprise," Bell said. "He's a good-looking player, I was shocked. He was outstanding for us, so I like him a lot. You never know, you see he has some good numbers. He's a good player."

Honorable mention -- Ender Inciarte led the organization with 43 steals while batting .281 at Mobile. ... Brad Snyder, 31, hit a career-high .311 with 12 homers, 29 doubles, 77 runs scored and 60 RBIs at Reno.

Utility -- Brandon Drury, South Bend (134 games): The D-backs' No. 15 prospect was a Midwest League All-Star after hitting .302 with 15 homers and 85 RBIs in his fourth season. Acquired from the Braves in the Justin Upton deal last January, the third baseman transitioned well to the Arizona system, ranking first in RBIs and seventh in average.

"He's a good all-around player -- only 11 errors at third base -- and offensively, he carried the team," said Bell, a former third baseman. "He came through with a lot of key hits in big situations. He just turned 21, but he carries himself as a mature veteran. He's a good, solid all-around player."

Right-handed starting pitcher -- Archie Bradley, Mobile (21 games), Visalia (five games): Bradley may have been the Minors' most dominant right-hander this season, but the D-backs showed patience by keeping him at Double-A. The 21-year-old Oklahoma native went 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA and 162 strikeouts over 152 innings at two levels. As you can imagine, he led the system in wins, ERA and strikeouts while ranking second in the Minors in wins and sixth in strikeouts.

"The key thing for him is to stay focused on the process and the work, and it's going to happen for him," said Bell, who suggested Bradley could reach the Majors next year. "His stats locked in on what he needs to do, and when it happens (reaching the Majors), he'll stay and be successful for a long time."

With the year Bradley turned in, some had hoped the 2011 first-round pick would get a look late with the D-backs. Bell said keeping him at Mobile was a decision the organization made in hopes of giving him a taste of the postseason.

"We felt like he was in the right place. Mobile was in the playoffs, he was pitching important innings, so you try not to get too caught up with the levels," said Bell, downplaying a jump to Triple-A. "It seemed like the right fit for him, and he was a big part of that team. I think our guys enjoy playing with a team competing, so we let him stay there and gave him a chance to win a championship in the Southern League. Some people say that doesn't matter, but it does. These players put a lot into it, so it does matter. It was important to him."

Left-handed starting pitcher -- David Holmberg, Mobile (26 games), Arizona (one game): The D-backs' No. 5 prospect was a Southern League All-Star, made his Major League debut and finished 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 157 1/3 innings at Double-A. The 22-year-old, originally a second-round pick by the White Sox, ranked fourth in the system -- and the Southern League -- in ERA and third in the circuit in innings pitched.

"He's resilient, he goes to work every day, has good command of all his pitches, keeps you in every game," Bell said. "I think we all like his future here. We're looking forward to seeing him in the big leagues in the near future."

Honorable mention -- Andrew Chafin, Mobile (21 games), Visalia (six games): The D-backs' No. 8 prospect and 2011 first-round pick went 13-8 with a 3.20 ERA and 119 strikeouts across two levels while earning Southern League All-Star honors.

Reliever -- Jake Barrett, Mobile (24 games), Visalia (28 games): The Arizona State product went 3-2 with a 1.21 ERA, 29 saves, 59 strikeouts and 12 walks over 52 innings in 52 appearances. Bell said the righty's nasty slider was one of the keys to his success.

"He dominated," Bell said. "Big fastball. He threw a hard, wipeout slider and he's got no fear on the mound, neither [Barrett nor honorable mention R.J. Hively]. He was just repeating the same motion and he did it at a higher level [than Hively]. He's not scared to pound the zone, he goes right after guys."

Honorable mention -- R.J. Hively, Visalia (28 games), South Bend (27 games): A right-hander in his first full season, Hively finished 4-0 with a 1.81 ERA in 55 games. He struck out 68 in 59 2/3 innings, led the system with 33 saves and was a Midwest League All-Star.

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog, Minoring in Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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