The Arizona Diamondbacks’ system is quite deep with three clear top prospects while the rest of the list has some very tantalizing names. There’s a lot of disagreement of placement of the D-backs’ prospects outside of the top three but no matter what kind of player a particular writer tends to favor, he found something to like in the Arizona system.
Consider this list a “consensus list.” Since we weren’t provided a list by our friends at Venom Strikes, I created it by looking at five different Top Prospects lists, assigning scores depending on placement and then ranking. The top three on the list were pretty clear and if Matt Davidson was still with the D-backs, we’d have a very clear top four. After that, however, things get very murky with quite a few fringey prospects hovering around the back half.
We had a three-way tie for 10th place which I broke by looking first at who was on the most Top 10s (Jake Lamb) and then I kind of went with my gut.
Triple A: Reno Aces (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Mobile Bay Bears (Southern League)
High-A: Visalia Rawhide (California League)
Class-A: South Bend Silver Hawks (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Hillsboro Hops (Northwest League)
Advanced Rookie: Missoula Osprey (Pioneer League)
Complex-Rookie: Arizona Diamondbacks (Arizona League)
Date of Birth: February 19, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2011 draft
|2013||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-A+||ARI||1||5||.167||6.83||29||8||5||58.0||56||48||44||8||47||1||39||10||9||1.776||8.7||1.2||7.3||6.1||0.83|
Analysis: Meo makes it onto this list because he was ranked in the Top 10 by Jonathan Mayo despite a very disappointing year that saw him demoted from Double-A in 2013. He can still hit 94 mph on the radar gun as a starter but it’s looking like the D-backs are going to put him in the bullpen (or at least that’s where he ended up in Visalia). With a decent slider and no other pitches, he projects to a bullpen arm anyways. The control was obviously a big problem last year and if it’s a mechanical flaw that can’t be fixed quickly, Meo will be nowhere near this list next year.
2014 Prognosis: Back to Double-A Mobile for another shot.
Justin Williams – OF
Date of Birth: August 20, 1995
Height/Weight: 6’2″/215 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2013 draft
|2013||17||3 Teams||3 Lgs||Rk-A||ARI||51||224||208||32||73||18||0||1||37||0||1||11||44||.351||.397||.452||.849|
Analysis: I think that a lot of prospect writers are holding back on ranking Williams who had an outstanding professional debut as a 17 year old in three minor leagues. He showed some excellent contact ability and limited strikeouts to under 20% overall and displayed quite a lot of gap power that scouts think will translate into “over-the-fence” power as he matures. While, of course, he could improve his walk rate, the fact that he already has a solid season under his belt going into his Age-18 season is pretty impressive.
2014 Prognosis: Seeing how well Williams took to the professional game in 2013, the Diamondbacks could easily give him an aggressive assignment and have him play in South Bend in 2014.
Matt Stites – RHP
Date of Birth: May 28, 1990
Height/Weight: 5’11″/170 lbs
Acquired: Traded from the San Diego Padres on July 31, 2013 with Joe Thatcher for Ian Kennedy; Drafted in the 17th round of the 2011 draft by San Diego
Analysis: Stites is showing a lot of polish as a closer and could very well make a big impression in 2014. He’s got a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a slider that scouts think can be above average to go along with a potentially average changeup. Baseball America rates his control the best in the system.
2014 Prognosis: With a strong season in Double-A, Stites earned a non-roster invite to spring training. He’ll likely start the season in Triple-A.
Sergio Alcantara – SS
Date of Birth: July 10, 1996
Height/Weight: 5’10″/150 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic; $700,000 signing bonus
Analysis: Alcantara’s age is the biggest thing to look at here and he makes the list because so many prospect writers are saying that he’s one to keep an eye on. At only 16 years old, he more than held his own in the Arizona League and impressed with his defense and plate discipline by walking more than he struck out. His power is still developing but he has a chance to really make strikes in 2014. Baseball America says he has the best infield arm in the organization.
2014 Prognosis: He’s so young that he could easily repeat the year at the Diamondbacks’ Arizona complex but he might head to Missoula for a bigger challenge.
Brandon Drury – 3B
Date of Birth: August 21, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’2″/190 lbs
Acquired: 13th round of the 2010 draft
Analysis: Somewhat of a sleeper until last season, Drury opened a lot of eyes by hitting a ton of doubles in the Midwest League. While he was repeating the level, he certainly wasn’t too old for the level, turning 21 in August really showed quite a lot of polish in his approach at the plate.
2014 Prognosis: Look for his numbers to jump out in 2014 playing in the hitter-friendly California League.Aug 1, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zeke Spruill (52) throws to the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game at the Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Zeke Spruill – RHP
Date of Birth: September 11, 1989
Height/Weight: 6’5″/190 lbs
Acquired: Traded on January 24, 2013 from the Atlanta Braves in the deal that included Justin Upton; drafted by the Braves in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft.
|2013||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AAA-AA||ARI||6||8||.429||3.49||21||21||1||1||123.2||122||55||48||8||45||68||3||1||1.350|
Analysis: To show how tough to figure this D-backs system is beyond the top three prospects, Spruill, another player acquired for Justin Upton, ranked as high as #4 (Jonathan Mayo’s list) to not making some top 10 lists at all. Despite his plus fastball and solid overall control, he struggled in the majors last season but that could well be a BABIP issue rather than an indictment of his talent. Mayo thinks that Spruill is a number three or four starter in the bigs while Marc Hulet thinks he’s strictly a back-end guy who pitches to contact and gets a lot of ground balls.
2014 Prognosis: Spruill has had a big league callup and will likely have to fight hard to get back to the majors with the pitching depth that Arizona has. He’ll be back in Triple-A to start the year.
Jake Lamb – 3B
Date of Birth: October 9, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/200 lbs
Acquired: 6th round of the 2012 draft
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-Rk||ARI||69||304||248||48||75||22||0||13||52||0||0||50||75||.302||.421||.548||.969|
Analysis: Lamb was a sleeper prospect going into 2013 and is now coming into his own as being simply a highly-regarded young player. He had an outstanding season with Visalia, showing tremendous plate discipline and solid power. While his power numbers dropped in the Arizona Fall League he maintained similar numbers including a very high walk rate.
2014 Prognosis: Invited to big league spring training, Lamb will probably be an early cut and head to Double-A Mobile where the club will see if his 2013 were Cal-League inflated or not.
Aaron Blair – RHP
Date of Birth: May 26, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’5″/230 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (36th overall) of the 2013 draft
|2013||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–A||ARI||1||3||.250||3.14||11||11||48.2||44||20||17||2||17||41||3||1||1.253|
Analysis: Ranked as high as number five by Baseball America and as low as number 14 by Jonathan Mayo, Blair is another prospect who demonstrates how polarized writers are about this Arizona system. With a solid mid-90s fastball and potentially average curveball and changeup, Blair has a chance to be a very good major league pitcher, particularly thanks to his advanced feel and command, but he won’t strike too batters out and he relies on movement and location. Marc Hulet sees his ceiling as a number three or four starter while Mayo is also fairly optimistic about his ceiling.
2014 Prognosis: I have a gut feeling that Blair skips High-A Visalia and goes straight to Mobile for a real test of his skills.
Jose Martinez – RHP
Date of Birth: April 14, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’1″/160 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic; $55,000 signing bonus
Analysis: Jose Martinez is still young and has shown a very good arm despite a lack of control in 2013. He throws in the low-to-mid-90s (hitting 96 mph on occasion) and throws a hard curveball that projects to being a plus pitch. The boys at Venom Strikes just wrote about Martinez the other day and they have a link to some video for you to enjoy.
2014 Prognosis: He will likely attempt full-season ball for the first time in 2014 with South Bend.
Jake Barrett – RHP
Date of Birth: July 22, 1991
Height/Weight: 6’3″/230 lbs
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2012 draft
|2013||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||ARI||3||2||.600||1.21||52||47||29||52.0||39||11||7||4||12||59||3||6||0.981|
Analysis: It’s rare to see such a high ranking for a reliever but Barrett has proven that he has the ability to be a dominant closer in the upper minors. With a fastball that clocks in the high 90s and a good, hard slider, Barrett is being touted as the D-backs’ closer of the future. He also flashes plus command which can only serve him well at the highest levels of baseball.
2014 Prognosis: Despite getting an invitation to big league spring training, Barrett will probably split 2014 between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. The bullpen is deep already and, as a 2012 draftee, there’s no hurry to get him on the 40-man roster.Sep 25, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings (16) records a force out at second ahead of the slide by San Diego Padres catcher Rene Rivera (44) during the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Chafin – LHP
Date of Birth: June 17, 1990
Height/Weight: 6’2″/205 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (43rd overall) of the 2011 draft
|2013||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-A+||ARI||13||8||.619||3.20||27||27||2||157.1||150||62||56||6||55||119||3||16||1.303|
Analysis: Since his 2010 Tommy John surgery and his being drafted out of Kent State in 2011, Chafin has done nothing but excel in professional baseball. His big frame allows him to throw in the low-90s but other writers say that his delivery isn’t the smoothest which could cause strain on his already surgically repaired elbow. While he didn’t strike out as many in Double-A, Marc Hulet was told that it was a conscious effort to pitch to more contact. With three potentially average or better pitches, Chafin could be mid-rotation starter but he could also head to the bullpen at some point.
2014 Prognosis: Chafin looks like he’ll head to Triple-A Reno but could be on tap for a big league debut in 2014.
Stryker Trahan – C
Date of Birth: April 25, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’1″/215 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (26th overall) of the 2012 draft
Analysis: A high-school draftee in 2012, this young catching prospect lit up the Pioneer League with 10 home runs and 15 doubles while striking out under 20% of the time. Listed as one of the Top 10 catching prospects in the big leagues, Trahan is making some big waves in addition to the progress that he’s making behind the plate.
2014 Prognosis: A full-season assignment in South Bend.
Braden Shipley – RHP
Date of Birth: February 22, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’3″/190 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (15th overall) of the 2013 draft
|2013||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A-||ARI||0||3||.000||4.99||12||12||39.2||44||24||22||3||14||40||2||3||1.462|
Analysis: I’ve seen Shipley ranked as high as number two but I think that three is a good place for him. Drafted 15th overall in 2013, Shipley showed very good control already and used his mid-90s fastball and potentially plus changeup to rack up strikeouts in A-ball in 2013. His breaking ball is still a work in progress but scouts think that it will become at least a major-league average pitch. His ceiling is of a number two or three starter, depending on how the curveball develops.
2014 Prognosis: Shipley should start in Visalia in 2014 and if he does well, you might see the Diamondbacks get him out of the hitter’s haven Cal League in a hurry.
Chris Owings – SS
Date of Birth: August 12, 1991
Height/Weight: 5’10″/180 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (41st overall) of the 2009 draft
Analysis: Owings is the type of player who doesn’t necessarily do a lot of things that stand out but the whole package works very well. He hit very well in Triple-A with a lot of gap power and displayed good speed and base-stealing skills and certainly held his own after a major league calling, being more patient at the plate and not getting overwhelmed. He has average range at short but a strong arm.
2014 Prognosis: With Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hill ahead of him on the major league depth chart, Owings may make the big league roster in a backup role, unless he has a good enough spring to overtake Gregorius. Still only 22, he could go back to Triple-A if necessary.
Archie Bradley – RHP
Date of Birth: August 10, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’4″/225 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (7th overall) of the 2011 draft
|2013||20||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-A+||ARI||14||5||.737||1.84||26||26||2||152.0||115||40||31||6||69||162||6||2||1.211|
Analysis: The D-backs’ consensus number one prospect, Bradley is looking to make a big impact in 2014. His 2013 numbers were outstanding flashing a mid-90s fastball as well as potentially plus offerings in his changeup and curveball. He’s still polishing his control but is legitimately projected as big-time number 1 starter. He could very well crack MLB Top 10 lists this year.
2014 Prognosis: With an invite to big league spring training, Bradley has a chance to impress the major league brass with his performance but he’ll likely be sent to Reno for his Age-21 season to improve his control.