Arizona Diamondbacks Set To Kick Off Spring Training With High Expectations

Yes, it's almost that time. We give you the rundown of why you should be more than excited for the 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks as they look to repeat as NL West champions.

Can you feel the magic in the air? No, that wasn't a Taylor Swift reference; I'm talking about the fact that it's only two days until Arizona Diamondback pitchers and catchers report and only two weeks until their first spring training game against the San Francisco Giants!

Not as excited as I undoubtedly am? Well, shake that Gibby death-stare off your face and show a little enthusiasm because this season is shaping up to be one of the most highly-anticipated preseason stretches in the D-backs' 14-year history. And rightfully so.

If you were frozen in carbonite from April to October of last year, allow me to catch you up to speed. After owning the third-worst record in Major League Baseball in 2010, the D-backs shocked the nation putting together a 94-win season, propelling the franchise to their fifth National League West title. Although they didn't get further than the first round of the playoffs after losing to the Milwaukee Brewers in an exhilarating five-game series, there's only room to grow with a young, talent-soaked roster.

But wait, there's more! (said in that bad informercial voice)

General Manager Kevin Towers A.K.A. The Midas of the 40-Man Roster A.K.A. The Gunslinger himself spoiled fans this offseason by acquiring three solid arms in starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and relievers Craig Breslow and Takashi Saito. Double that with retaining every major Arizona free agent plus adding some much-need lefty power in OF Jason Kubel and voilà: you have the early favorites to represent the division in the postseason yet again.

Still haven't bought your season tickets yet? Well then, allow me to bring up two more names: Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs. Bauer and Skaggs are just two more electrifying players that the D-backs have waiting in the wings. Skaggs, the prize in the Dan Haren trade, has shown an extreme consistency of missing bats, averaging 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings in Double-A Mobile. And if you thought that was impressive, you're going to faint when you read Bauer's resume.

Bauer won the Golden Spikes Award for the nation's top amateur baseball player before being selected third overall by the D-backs in 2011. The 21-year-old hard-throwing righty has already been called Tim Lincecum 2.0 thanks their similar deliveries plus Bauer's ability to throw nine different pitches. Yes, you read that right. Nine. The man could literally mow down an entire lineup and never use more than one particular pitch on each different batter.

Sadly, the D-backs have the "problem" of too much depth so both Bauer and Skaggs don't figure to make the initial 25-man roster out of camp. But with the duo ready to make a major league impact sooner rather than later, fans can expect to see some call ups once they avoid their Super-2 arbitration status and all that fun stuff.

So to recap, you have a blossoming roster featuring a perennial MVP candidate in Justin Upton + a handful of key off-season acquisitions to bolster an already booming talent quota + a top farm system spotlighted by two top-of-the-rotation-caliber rookies waiting in the wings.

With that equation in mind, I think there's only one question left to ask: is it April sixth yet?

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