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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Diamondbacks First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt

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A few years ago, the Diamondbacks traded for first base/outfield prospect Brandon Allen with the thought that he would be their first baseman of the future. Well, even though he has done everything he can do in the minors, the Diamondabcks shuttled him back to AAA out of spring training this year. Instead, they opted to sign free agents Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan to play first base for them this season.
These decisions were curious, but after the Diamondbacks signed Branyan, it was easy to figure out that the Dbacks were not high on Allen, who now might just be a AAAA player going forward.The knock on Allen is his defense, yet the Dbacks went out an signed Branyan anyway, so there might be more to the story in Arizona.

Another possible scenario is that the Diamondbacks may want to give first base prospect Paul Goldschmidt a chance to be their first baseman of the future. Goldschmidt is not on anyone's top 100 prospect list, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good prospect. And, looking at his performance in High A last year, and in AA this year, maybe Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers is onto something.

Read more on Paul Goldschmidt after the jump:

Goldschmidt had solid 2010 campaign in High A which saw him hit .314-.384-.606 with 35 HRs, 108 RBIs and 103 runs scored. His weakness is the strikeout and like many power hitters, he strikes out alot. He struck out at a 31% rate last year, but did walk at a 10% rate as well. Along with the 35 HRs, Goldschmidt also hit 42 doubles last year, resulting in an ISO of .291.

Here is what John wrote about him in his Top 20 Diamondbacks Prospects for 2011:

9) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Grade B-: California League power monster has strikeout issues that could prevent a good batting average/OBP at higher levels.

Baseball America ranked him as the 17th best prospect in the California League in 2010, and here is what they had to say about him:

Goldschmidt's power became the stuff of legend around the Cal League, as nearly everyone he faced witnessed him hitting balls a long way. The league MVP, he led the the circuit in doubles (42), homers (35), extra-base hits (80), total bases (318) and slugging (.606).

More than just a pull hitter, Goldschmidt has power to all fields. He ranked second in the league with 161 strikeouts, and while some observers thought the whiffs were an acceptable tradeoff for his homers, others think he'll make less contact at higher levels because he struggles with high fastballs and pulls off breaking pitches. He's a well below-average runner and athlete who's limited to first base, where he's an adequate defender.

So far in 2011, Goldschmidt is hitting .381-.536-1.143 with 5 HRs, 10 RBIs, 6 runs scored, and he has cut his strikeout rate to 19% and upped his walk rate to 25% so far this season. This covers a very small sample size of 21 at bats, so it bears watching to see if Goldschmidt can sustain this over 500+ at bats against better pitching in AA.

I ranked Goldschmidt as my 12th best fantasy first base prospect for 2011. I doubt he sees time in the big leagues this year, but with another impressive showing in AA, he could move up to AAA by the end of the season, and possibly be a mid-2012 callup. Chase Field in Arizona is a hitter's haven, and Goldschmidt could do some real damage if he becomes an everyday regular first baseman for the Diamondbacks as long as he can limit his strikeouts.