D-Backs keep top prospects 

January, 5, 2007
The Diamondbacks acquired one year of Randy Johnson from the Yankees (although they have since worked out a one-year extension), and while Johnson will be 42 and is coming off a season in which he posted a 5.00 ERA, there still seemed to be plenty in the tank until a late-season back injury ended his run of effectiveness, with a solid-average fastball and a still-plus slider, but less ability to blow the ball by hitters in the upper half of the zone. The Diamondbacks reportedly will pay $24 million for the privilege of having Johnson over the next two years, and they did give up a number of bodies, but didn't trade any of their top prospects -- not even Dustin Nippert, whom they've been offering around all winter.

In exchange, the Yankees received more pitching depth, although nothing resembling the high-end prospect they allegedly were going to receive. The one big leaguer they obtained was Luis Vizcaino, a hard-throwing middle reliever with iffy control but outstanding strikeout rates (except for his one year in the American League) who is probably a seventh-inning guy for the Yanks. His fastball is straight, and he's susceptible to the longball, limiting his upside, especially given the opposition he'll face as a Yankee. He has improved his splitter to where it's an average pitch, making him more than just a right-handed specialist.

Neither Ross Ohlendorf nor Steven Jackson projects as more than a reliever in the big leagues. Ohlendorf has remade himself since he was drafted out of some nondescript liberal arts school (Princeton) in New Jersey in 2004; in college, he had plus velocity but his fastball was straight, and his command was below-average, but he's exchanged a little velocity for some sink on his fastball, he's improved his changeup, and now pounds the strike zone. He has an average-to-plus slider with very good depth that is probably his best pitch to get swings and misses. He's got an outside chance to be a starter in the majors, particularly if he improves either of those secondary pitches.