Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Arizona Diamondbacks

What they may lack in impact bats, the Diamondbacks make up for with pitching depth. They have a lot of pitchers with high floors in the upper levels of the minors, and a few in the low minors that should move quickly. A few have top of the rotation potential. The addition of Dansby Swanson to the organization this June does a lot to help reinforce the offensive pipeline, but the team will have to do a better job developing hitters over the next few years.

Their quantity of outfield options is solid, and was something of a logjam in the upper minors this season. That four players who started playing for the team in 2015 make the top eight here is a good sign for their talent acquisition going forward. Look for the pitchers to start making their presence felt in the big leagues in 2016 and 2017, while we wait on some of the lower-level hitting prospects to put things together.

Here’s the primer for the series and my scouting thoughts in general. The grades I put on players heavily weight the functionality of each tool in game situations, rather than just pure tool grades. Here is a table to understand the position player grades:

Scouting Grades in Context: Hitters
Grade Tool Is Called Batting Average HR ISO Baserunning Runs Fielding Runs
80 80 0.320 40 0.300 12 30
75 0.310 35-40 0.275 10 25
70 Plus Plus 0.300 30-35 0.250 8 20
65 0.290 27-30 0.225 6 15
60 Plus 0.280 23-27 0.200 4 10
55 Above Average 0.270 19-22 0.175 2 5
50 Average 0.260 15-18 0.150 0 0
45 Below Average 0.250 12-15 0.125 -2 -5
40 0.240 8-12 0.100 -4 -10
35 0.230 5-8 0.075 -6 -15
30 0.220 3-5 0.050 -8 -20

As well as one to understand what the overall grades approximate:

Scouting Grades in Context: Overall
Grade Hitter Starting Pitcher Relief Pitcher WAR
80 Top 1-2 #1 Starter —- 7
75 Top 2-3 #1 —- 6
70 Top 5 #1/2 —- 5
65 All-Star #2/3 —- 4
60 Plus #3 High Closer 3
55 Above Avg #3/4 Mid Closer 2.5
50 Avg Regular #4 Low CL/High SU 2
45 Platoon/Util #5 Low Setup 1.5
40 Bench Swing/Spot SP Middle RP 1
35 Emergency Call-Up Emergency Call-Up Emergency Call-Up 0
30 *Organizational *Organizational *Organizational -1

One other difference for the way I’ll be communicating scouting grades to you is the presence of three numbers on each tool instead of just two. The first number is the current grade. The second number is the likely future grade; or, if you prefer percentiles, call this the 50th percentile projection. The third number is the ceiling grade, or 90th percentile projection, to help demonstrate the volatility and raw potential of a tool. I feel this gives readers a better sense of the possible outcomes a player could achieve, and more information to understand my thoughts on the likelihood of reaching those levels.

In the biographical information, level refers to where they finished the year, unless they were sent down for injury rehab or other extraneous reasons. Ages are listed as of April 1, 2016. You can also find each player’s previous rank from Kiley’s list last year. Below, Dave Cameron shares his thoughts on the general state of the organization. Returning for his popular cameo, Carson Cistulli picks his favorite fringe prospect toward the end of the list. Next up will be the Atlanta Braves.

Organizational Overview

The Diamondbacks feature a strong core of position player talent, with Paul Goldschmidt establishing himself as a truly elite player, while A.J. Pollock and David Peralta are looking like high-quality pieces as well. Nick Ahmed‘s strong defense and Jake Lamb’s offensive potential give them a few more young solid everyday pieces, and Yasmany Tomas was liked well enough by international scouts to not give up on even after a lousy rookie season.

So, there’s a base from which to build off of, but the organization lacks pitching, both in terms of impact and depth, and they have a ways to climb to catch the Dodgers in the NL West. With some loaded clubs in the Central and some strong young clubs in the East, the Wild Card isn’t an easily obtained goal in the National League, so the front office is going to make some big upgrades to take advantage of Goldschmidt’s peak, or else they risk getting caught in the circle of being a decent also-ran.


Video courtesy of Hillsboro Hops

1. Dansby Swanson, SS
Current Level/Age: AA/22.1, 6’1″/190, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 1st overall (1st round) in 2015 out of Vanderbilt by ARZ for $6.5 million bonus
Previous Rank: NA

Despite receiving only 99 plate appearances this season after getting drafted number one overall, Swanson showed a lot of promise in Low-A Hillsboro. His swing consists of an excellent hand path built for staying in the contact zone. He has a tendency for his hips to slide forward underneath him, leaving him a bit too reliant on driving balls with strength in his front leg, which contributes to a bat arch that is a little too level for consistent power currently. A club official I spoke to praised Swanson for his work ethic, and asserted his potential to be a 20-homer hitter with some further development. I think he will end up a little below that level, but with plenty of doubles and all-around contributions to be a dynamite player.

Defensively he has excellent feet in the field, allowing his above-average to plus arm play up even higher on bang-bang plays. He is able to get his body moving quickly in any direction, redirecting his momentum very effectively, a true impact player at a premium position.

Hit: 50/60/70 Power: 35/45/55 Run: 55/60/60 Field: 60/65/70 Throw: 60/60/60
FV/Role: 55, Above-average to plus regular

Video courtesy of Christopher Blessing

2. Braden Shipley, RHP
Current Level/Age: AA/24.1, 6’3″/190, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 15th overall (1st round) in 2013 out of Nevada by ARZ for $2.25 million bonus
Previous Rank: 2

Shipley has a solid lower half with good drive and sequencing. He has a tight upper back which rounds his shoulders forward, leaving his shoulders have to work more on the chest-side of his body. At first glance this makes it seem like he couldn’t be deceptive, since he physically can’t bring the ball completely behind his body after his hands break. Shipley makes up for it with a slight turn away from the plate as he picks up his stride foot to go to the plate, and he’s athletic enough that it doesn’t throw off his consistency.

Shipley has the makings of an excellent starter’s arsenal, with his best offering being a sharp curve, showing an ability to get it over for strikes and to bury it for a swing-and-miss pitch. His fastball is more a velocity than movement or command weapon currently, but the repeatability of his delivery and his overall athleticism make it likely to see improvements in how well he can place it. The change-up looks similar to his fastball out of his hand, though it is relatively straight, and thus probably does not have the ceiling of the other two.

After a brutal start to the season in Mobile, Shipley turned in a quality season overall by decreasing his walk and home run rates despite the drop in strikeouts. Reports are that he found and corrected a mechanical issue halfway through the year that made a big difference. The negative attitude toward his 2015 season is mostly overblown, and it’s important to note he hasn’t logged as many innings as other pitching prospects, having only started pitching in college. The strikeouts are likely to tick back up as his fastball and change-up improve this season, leaving Shipley as the best high minors pitching prospect the Diamondbacks have at present.

Fastball: 92-95 50/60/65 Curveball: 55/60/70 Change-up: 45/50/55 Command: 45/55/60
FV/Role: 55, #3/4 Starter with upside

Video courtesy of Minor League Baseball

3. Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP
Current Level/Age: A/22.5, 6’1″/170, R/R
Acquired: Signed in 2014 out of Taiwan by ARZ for unknown bonus
Previous Rank: NA

It’s pronounced “Way-Jay,” which is way cooler sounding than the butchered version I was using when I first saw his name. Huang throws from a high three-quarters slot with a clean arm action all the way through his delivery. Like many Asian imports, he has somewhat of a drop-and-drive delivery, but still keeps his back hip tall as he strides to maintain his balance instead of collapsing too far on his back leg and throwing uphill.

He has two pitches in his fastball and change-up that project as plus, and he commands both of them extremely well for a young hurler. Both have good running action, and the change-up really falls off the table down in the zone. His fastball sits at 89-92, running up to 93-94 in small samples, but the command and movement are where this pitch has the most upside. He also has a curveball and a slider, the latter of which was rarely used this season. The curve lags behind currently, as Huang has not found the shape and arm speed to put it near the same level of his best offerings.

He has room to add some muscle as he matures, but even without further physical development he could be on the fast track to the high minors. A team official I spoke with believes it’s realistic we will see Huang in Double-A Mobile by the end of this season.

Fastball 89-92 (94) 50/60/65 Change-up: 55/65/70 Curveball: 40/45/50 Slider: TBD Command: 50/60/65
FV/Role: 55, #3/4 Starter with upside

Video courtesy of 2080 Baseball

4. Aaron Blair, RHP
Current Level/Age: AAA/23.8, 6’4″/205, R/R
Acquired: 36th overall (Supplemental 1st round) in 2013 out of Marshall by ARZ for $1.435 million bonus
Previous Rank: 3

Blair has a good arm with a strong but stiff body. There is not a lot of athleticism in his delivery, almost looking like his body gets dragged along into his follow through by his strong arm. A D-backs official says not to let his body fool you, praising his overall athleticism. Even with some slight mechanical qualms, he has a relatively simple approach to the plate, and has an easy time keeping the ball in the zone. He pitches to contact and is a hard-worker.

Blair has some good arm-side run and sink on his fastball, lending to a future as a ground-ball artist fit for the middle or back end of a rotation, given his control. He still needs to harness the command of his pitches to reach that ceiling, but it is looking more likely with each step up the minor league ladder.

The change-up is still ahead of the curve at the moment, though the movement on the curve this year showed potential as a plus pitch. The deception and fade on his change-up will keep him viable as a starting option even without continued advances in the breaking ball. The command of the fastball and continued development in the feel of his change will be the determining factors in his place in the Diamondbacks rotation.

Fastball: 90-94 50/55/60 Curveball: 50/55/60 Change-up: 55/60/65 Command: 50/55/60
FV/Role: 55, #3/4 Starter

Video courtesy of Minor League Baseball

5. Socrates Brito, OF
Current Level/Age: MLB/23.6, 6’1″/220, L/L
Acquired: Signed in 2010 out of Dominican Republic by ARZ for $90,000 bonus
Previous Rank: 21

Brito finished an excellent 2015 season in the big leagues for Arizona, showing off his capabilities as a singles and gap hitter, matched with solid outfield defense. He is still an unfinished product, to be expected jumping right from Double-A for his late-season cameo. Brito makes about average contact, and has not been able to tap into his above-average raw power in games so far. His level swing plane does not provide much optimism to him finding it anytime soon.

Still, he gets his hands in the zone deep and does a good job of staying through the ball much better than a couple seasons ago. He also swings at everything, but does enough damage with the balls he puts in play it won’t kill him as a prospect. The total package gives me confidence he can be a plus hitter with minimal improvements to his approach, possibly more.

He’s a plus to plus-plus runner who has succeeded stealing and taking extra bases in the minors, a skill that could develop further over the next couple years. Given his baserunning prowess his range is a bit less than expected, leaving him more of a right field fit, though his ability to make plays at the limits of his range could bump him into center field quality if he finds enough consistency and maintains his current speed. Brito flashed a plus arm in his short time in the majors, likely playing higher in games on account of his quick feet and release.

Hit: 50/60/65 Power: 35/40/50 Run: 60/60/65 Field: 55/60/65 Throw: 60/65/65
FV/Role: 55, Above-average to plus regular

6. Archie Bradley, RHP
Current Level/Age: AAA/23.6, 6’4″/235, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 7th overall (1st round) in 2011 out of Oklahoma HS by ARZ for $5.0 million bonus
Previous Rank: 1

Bradley’s 2015 stint was a mixed bag of progress. He made it to the big leagues and had a few brilliant moments of success. His walk rate was high but he pitched into the zone at an above average rate, and he produced a high ground ball rate, though he had not shown that propensity before and doesn’t have an obvious ground ball-inducing pitch. His fastball is a pretty impressive pitch as far as intent and command go, but the inconsistency of the life on it this year holds down the current grade for now.

The curve showed real potential at times, flashing at least plus depth, though hitters being able to wait for the inevitable hanger limited the value of it this season. The change-up is just a show-me pitch currently, though team officials recognized the efforts he put into developing it this year.

He relies a lot on his arm speed rather than good sequencing with his lower body, which makes the shoulder injury more concerning than for most. Bradley was noticeably affected by getting hit by a line drive earlier in the season, so we can probably give him a pass on many of the concerns for now. With his season ending prematurely, combined with his history of control problems that has not yet been conquered, Bradley’s future is still a slight question mark despite his undeniable talent. There still remains the distinct possibility he can get back on track as a mid-high end future starter.

Fastball: 91-94 55/60/70 Curveball: 45/55/65 Change-up: 40/40/50 Command: 45/50/60
FV/Role: 50, #4 Starter

Video courtesy of Christopher Blessing

7. Yoan Lopez, RHP
Current Level/Age: AA/23.2, 6’3″/185, R/R
Acquired: Signed in 2015 out of Cuba by ARZ for $8.25 million bonus
Previous Rank: NA

Lopez had a rough year adjusting to professional baseball life, with injuries and a personal issue taking time away from his development on the field. Judging him from a projection standpoint, the command questions may be overblown, which those close to the situation attribute to trying to do too much at times. He has really smooth actions on the mound, currently lacking in the consistency of his release timing leading to more than a few fastballs missing up in the zone. The easiness of his delivery limits the need to bulk up to go deep into games with his stuff. With normal physical maturation and the improved body awareness that comes with it, I think this is something that cleans up easily.

The curve and change are works in progress, but the fastball and slider are presently enough to project him as at least a dangerous reliever. The curve did flash around average at points this year. Though the lost development time muddles the picture, he’s still very young, I see him figuring things out on the field to project as at least a mid-rotation starter.

Fastball: 92-95 45/60/65 Slider: 45/55/60 Curveball: 40/45/55 Change-up: 40/45/50 Command: 40/55/65
FV/Role: 50, #4 Starter, low closer/high setup

Video courtesy of Moore Baseball

8. Alex Young, LHP
Current Level/Age: A-/22.6, 6’2″/205, L/L
Acquired: Drafted 43rd overall (2nd round) in 2015 out of Texas Christian by ARZ for $1.4314 million bonus
Previous Rank:

Armed with a 93-95 mph fastball and an average or better slider, Young was tabbed as a solid pick in the 2015 draft who could move quickly through the system. Young commands his fastball and slider well already, though his change-up is hit or miss currently, albeit with above-average to plus flashes. The plan for him is to continue as a starter for now, though a strong future in the bullpen is certainly a viable outcome for him.

He has an arm-heavy delivery that can get high-effort, which gives me some concern about him holding his velocity as a starter. Prior to the draft, he had moments where he really heaved the ball at the plate, though in general had a repeatable motion and obviously good results. He does flash pretty good arm action on his change-up, but lacks real feel for finishing it currently.

Fastball: 93-95 50/55/60 Slider: 45/55/65 Change-up: 35/50/55 Command:45/55/60
FV/Role: 50, #4 Starter, low closer/high setup


9. Cody Reed, LHP, VIDEO

Reed is a fun prospect to project, with well below-average athleticism but above-average body awareness. He never lands the same way twice on his stride foot but has enough feel for his release that he keeps the ball in the zone. He limits his walk totals by throwing strikes, yet his command may not be on the same level as his control at the moment. He gets good reviews from the organization for the changes he made managing his lifestyle to keep his body in check.

His fastball sits comfortably in the low-90s and touches mid- with good arm-side run, and his slider has some decent projection going forward. Still, I have concerns about him being able to limit walks and keep the strikeouts as he faces better hitters due to the lack of true command. He could still be a back-end starter because of his feel and pounding the zone, but he might be a better weapon out of the pen where he can crank up the fastball and focus on his hard slider.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Slider: 50/55/60 Change-up: 40/45/50 Curveball: 40/40/45 Command: 40/45/50

10. Brandon Drury, 3B/2B, VIDEO

Drury’s ability to make contact will continue giving him a job in professional baseball, while the type of contact he produces will keep him from being a major threat at the plate. He barrels the ball up consistently, and a team official thought he tried to do too much in a tough hitter’s ballpark in Mobile, something they are confident will improve with maturity. His hands are the first thing to go to the ball, making his swing look choppy and ending up driving across the ball. He’ll have no problem doing damage on high pitches. He has good balance in his lower half, which gives him the opportunity to adjust to off-speed pitches well.

Sources with the club believe he will have enough power to profile at third, but I think his hardest balls will continue to be line drives at the feet of infielders rather than fly balls with loft. His doubles totals should continue to provide solid value at the highest level. Defensively he has fantastic hands, as well as excellent footwork and body control. In my opinion he profiles best at second base due to below-average arm strength, but he re-positions his feet well and has a quick enough release to play above-average at third as well. Sources in the organization believe he has a plus arm in the tank for when he needs it, and have no problem with projecting him as a third baseman on offense or defense.

Hit: 45/55/60 Power: 35/45/50 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 50/55/60 Throw: 50/50/55

11. Jake Barrett, RHP, VIDEO

Barrett has three pitches that are all average or better in terms of pure stuff, with his fastball and slider being ahead of the change-up. He throws hard and his slider is an out pitch when located properly, but that’s been his issue. His command isn’t good enough to be counted on more than semi-regularly right now. His rotators in his shoulders and hips are tight, leaving his delivery looking muscled, even uncomfortable at times. He steps closed and spins around his front leg instead of driving toward the plate with his body, and he doesn’t appear to have the feel to make up for the lack of efficiency.

Fastball: 45/50/60 Slider: 50/55/60 Changeup: 40/45/45 Command: 35/40/45

12. Ryan Burr, RHP, VIDEO

His fastball touches the high-90s with good rise, and his curveball has the potential to be an above-average to plus pitch. He keeps the ball in the zone, but will have to work at commanding his pitches to be a late-inning reliever at the major league level.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Curveball: 45/50/55 Command: 40/45/50

13. Isan Diaz, 2B, VIDEO

Diaz put up some impressive numbers in rookie ball, showing off some power, speed on the bases, and the ability to get the bat on the ball. His future will become more clear as he starts facing more advanced pitchers as soon as this season, but he has some really athletic moves in the batter’s box that stand out from players his age.

Hit: 25/50/55 Power: 25/50/55 Run: 50/50/50 Field: 50/55/55 Throw: 50/50/50

14. Jamie Westbrook, 2B, VIDEO

Power output exploded this year with 17 homers in hitter-haven Visalia. He’s likely not a big power guy, but Westbrook has just enough lift in his swing to be a solid gaps hitter, possibly more if he adds some muscle.

Hit: 30/50/55 Power: 30/45/50 Run: 55/55/55 Field: 50/55/55 Throw: 50/50/50

15. Jimmie Sherfy, RHP, VIDEO

Sometimes players look like trainwrecks. Coming out of Oregon, Sherfy looked like a helicopter with an uneven number of blades. Now he steps closed trying to keep his body directed toward the plate, to little avail as far as his command goes. His fastball and slider are both devastating pitches, but his mechanics are still such a mess it will be great if he can make it to the big leagues without posting a 6+ walk per nine season on the way there.

Fastball: 45/45/55 Slider: 45/50/60 Command: 30/35/40

16. Anthony Banda, LHP

Banda rates highly internally in the organization as a good-looking young lefty with praise for his delivery and feel for his change-up. His fastball and breaking ball are both solid developing pitches, though it is a question whether his stuff is good enough to get higher level hitters out. He has commanded the ball well enough to put away most of the hitters he has faced thus far. He’ll be starting the 2016 season in Mobile, which should be a good test for where he ends up in the future.

Fastball: 45/50/55 Curveball: 45/50/55 Change-up: 45/50/60 Command: 50/55/60

17. Jack Reinheimer, SS/2B, VIDEO

One of the prospects that came over in the Mark Trumbo trade, Reinheimer has the reputation for being an infielder that cannot quite stick at shortstop. I watched him play a few games in the AFL last week and think he’s better than advertised on defense. He has excellent hands and range, and made all the plays he needed to and then some. His average arm strength is buoyed by his footwork, even going toward his backhand side, that it plays up a full grade in games.

His plate discipline has been questioned as well, but I saw a hitter attacking pitches in the zone more often than not, with a knack for barreling up the ball. His hands rush toward the ball in his swing rather than getting on plane early, making his power more of the doubles variety, though he can drive it to all fields.

Reinheimer’s baserunning IQ pairs well with his above-average speed to make him a sneaky asset in the running game. He may still fall through the cracks when trying to project a starter, without sure-thing future power or walk totals to keep him on the field. Talking to scouts last week, a Brandon Crawford comparison was thrown around which seemed somewhat appropriate, though Reinheimer is a tick less amazing in the field. Club officials praise his plus baseball intelligence, the strength in his swing, and his confidence in all facets of his game.

Hit: 40/45/50 Power: 35/40/45 Run: 55/55/60 Field: 60/60/60 Throw: 55/60/60

18. Marcus Wilson, OF, VIDEO

Last year’s 69th overall pick has tools scouts love in his bat, throwing and running speed — and the long drives when he connects in batting practice are quite amazing. Unfortunately, with two seasons of rookie ball under his belt, he has hit a whopping two home runs in his young career. Now, his baserunning, fielding and throwing are close to sure-thing playable tools as he advances. His plus arm strength is handicapped slightly by a long transfer and release, but the overall package on defense should shake out as a positive nonetheless.

On the hitting side, there are two issues that could really hamper his ability to translate his batting practice skills to the main event. First and most worrisome are the strikeouts. It’s still early for him, but striking out as often as he has at the Rookie level does not bode well for his future, even if he had 80-grade tools across the board.

Second, despite his strength and bat speed, his swing just does not have a lot of projection in it as a power contributor. Wilson tends to really let his barrel get away from him early, jumping the gun on the ideal sequencing of the swing. As a result, the barrel comes through the zone very flat relative to his hands, and quickly rolls across the path of the pitch and out of the zone.

Besides the raw force he possesses when hitting, there is nothing in his swing that hints at hitting for power now or in the future. He is young enough that there is still time to create some lift, and the motivation will be there if the strikeouts climb as he advances levels. However, as it stands I can’t reasonably project him for more than 10-15 homers at his peak. So if the strikeout negative cancels the bat speed positive, and his movements as a hitter don’t improve, the future looks a lot less rosy than it was at draft time.

Hit: 35/45/50 Power: 25/40/45 Run: 55/60/60 Field: 50/60/60 Throw: 50/55/60

19. Peter O’Brien, OF/C, VIDEO

The story on O’Brien is the same as the last few years. He has excellent raw power, but his ability to tap into it — as well as questions concerning his defensive home — all remain unresolved. I think his movements in the box are solid, though he can sometimes let the barrel get away from him early in his swing, and can get jammed or fooled more as a result. Still, he has the strength and lift in his swing to hit the ball out to all fields. The real limiting factor is the swing-and-miss part of his game, which at this stage is unlikely to improve dramatically.

Despite soft hands behind the plate, he has seemed to have trouble with pitch-tracking as a catcher too, leaving less hope his contact issues can be fixed over time. The team official I spoke to said they have not made a determination on what position O’Brien will play in 2016, though a recent report surfaced saying he will begin the year at catcher. His arm and footwork should play at least average behind the plate, but the real improvement will have to be in the receiving and blocking departments for him to be a viable starting option there.

Hit: 45/45/50 Power: 55/55/60 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 40/45/50 Throw: 45/50/55

20. Colin Bray, OF, VIDEO

Bray has the defensive chops to play center field and is a solid baserunner. I think his hit tool is fine but the power isn’t going to be too useful. A team source believes the power will show up in time and believes he has good leverage in his swing.

Hit: 35/45/50 Power: 30/40/45 Run: 55/55/60 Field: 60/60/60 Throw: 55/55/55


21. Jeferson Mejia, RHP

Mejia is a physically projectable young right-hander the Diamondbacks received from the Cubs in the Miguel Montero trade. He throws very hard and has a developing curve and change, with the curve having the better chance of being above-average. His overall command and control is a work in progress. A team source points out the big jump in competition he made this year which was a good learning experience for him, as well as applauding the good plane he has on his fastball.

Fastball: 40/50/60 Curveball: 35/50/55 Change-up: 30/45/50 Command: 35/45/55

22. Gabriel Guerrero, OF

Also joining the Diamondbacks organization this season in the Mark Trumbo trade, Guerrero is the nephew of all-time great Vladimir Guerrero. The comparisons to his Russian uncle are inevitable, with a near pathological free-swinging approach and tons of bat speed. The problem is Gabriel does not make much contact, nor does he have enough body control at this time. His swings are usually accompanied by his upper body diving out over his front leg, leaving him with nothing left to drive the ball but his hands and bat.

With his contact rate being on the low side, it is easy to get him out with any kind of chase pitch. He has some really athletic qualities to his swing, though his plane is too steep to the ball, due in part to how far forward his head ends up relative to his base on most swings. He almost looks like a teenage version of Vlad, at a time before he could really harness all the power in his body. It’s an unfair comparison to begin with, but here I think it illustrates both his potential and his peril as a prospect.

He hasn’t figured out how to use his body yet, and given he will turn 22 this offseason, it is unlikely he ever will. But if he can settle down at the plate and let his tools work for him, he still has the potential to be a monster. He has enough speed to steal 15-20 bases, but as he continues to fill out that is likely to fade, and his low body awareness carries over to his movements on the bases and in the field.

Hit: 35/40/50 Power: 40/50/65 Run: 45/45/50 Field: 50/55/60 Throw: 50/55/60

23. Matt Railey, RF

Though he hasn’t played much since he was drafted in 2013, he flashes some interesting tools to follow. I clocked him at 4.10 seconds from home to first in Arizona last week, he has a quick bat and has the power to drive high pitches well. On the negative side, he’s short through the zone and steep to the ball and has a tendency to roll off contact quickly. Hopefully the injury and PED issues are behind him, and we can start to define his development path.

Hit: 30/45/50 Power: 30/40/45 Run: 55/60/65 Field: 50/50/50 Throw: 55/55/55

24. Domingo Leyba, 2B/SS

The switch-hitter has a decent hand path from both sides of the plate, but he tends to lunge at the ball on the left side, causing quality of contact to be an issue. His right-handed swing consists of a better base, but it is still a line drive/ground ball type of swing. Leyba draws positive reviews for his exceptional hand-eye coordination, which for a young player like him is a good and bad thing. He has work to do to learn what pitches are good to attack and which are not, and the team is confident he will keep his legs under him better as he improves his patience.

He has good hands and a strong arm on defense, and though he is not flashy with his footwork, he should be able to play an average up-the-middle defense overall. A team official called his range plus at second base, and noted that Leyba had a tremendous year at shortstop in Visalia, with the 19 errors he tallied a success for his young age.

Hit: 30/45/50 Power: 25/35/40 Run: 50/50/50 Field: 45/55/60 Arm: 55/60/60

25. Daniel Palka, 1B

Palka has solid power, but his path is definitely too choppy right now to see a lot of power in his game. He does show some potential to create lift, though usually when he’s fooled out in front. Still, he has some athletic movements in his swing that could help him tap into his strength.

Hit: 40/45/50 Power: 40/45/50 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 45/45/45 Throw: 45/45/45

26. Sergio Alcantara, SS

Very slight of build, Alcantara’s game is all about contact and defense. He mostly flips the bat at the ball and is unlikely to develop any legitimate power even as he matures. He has some speed, but has not really made it a part of his game thus far in his career. The defense is good enough to continue seeing what they have in his bat.

Hit: 25/45/50 Power: 25/30/35 Run: 45/45/50 Field: 50/55/60 Throw: 55/60/60


Mitch Haniger, OF

Somewhat a victim of the outfield crunch in the Diamondbacks minor league system, Haniger was placed in A-ball where he overmatched the league. The club praises his outfield skills, good baserunning, and are still believers in his power and hit tools. Haniger looks to me more like a bench bat at best at this point, and he’ll have to show some better contact or power just to clear that hurdle.

Hit: 35/40/45 Power: 30/35/40 Run: 50/50/50 Field: 55/55/55 Throw: 55/55/55

Zach Borenstein, OF

Borenstein had a great year in Double-A, though time is running out for him to develop the game power his corner outfield profile requires for viability at the big league level.

Hit: 40/45/50 Power: 35/40/45 Run: 45/45/45 Field: 40/45/45 Throw: 40/40/45

Dawel Lugo, SS

Lugo joined the Diamondbacks organization this year in exchange for Cliff Pennington. He brings plus arm strength and a developing hit tool as his best attributes, though the arm is limited by his extended time to release, and the bat is not backed up by any likely prospect of power. He shows fast but unstable footwork at short, leaving him off that position by traditional preference. He has a good hand path with a long contact window, but not enough discipline, bat speed or full use of his body to have much upside in the hit or power departments.

Hit: 30/40/45 Power: 30/35/40 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 50/55/55 Throw: 55/55/60

Stryker Trahan, C/OF

With disappointing seasons back to back now, the light of Trahan’s prospect glow is dimming fast. Not projecting as above average at either of his positions, his bat will need to carry him. His plus arm strength is limited by stiff arm action and short, rigid footwork. Behind the plate, he looks like he reacts to the ball rather than anticipating its movements, stabbing at the ball at times. Anticipating ball flight is his issue hitting as well, not being able to pick up and hit pitches that are more unpredictable (i.e. any off-speed deliveries).

He still has the plus raw power, though the hit tool has not made enough improvements to advance the total package. He has a great swing, too, with the only minor issue being his dominant hand (right) pulling the bat across a bit much, moving his spray chart almost completely to the right field side. With shifting on lefty pull hitters in vogue now, and having pitch-tracking/contact issues that are difficult to improve, his hit tool likely will not reach a sufficient level to cover up the defensive shortcomings.

Hit: 25/35/40 Power: 40/50/55 Run: 40/40/40 Field: 40/45/45 Throw: 45/50/55

Victor Reyes, OF

Dealt for the 75th-overall pick in April, as an extension of Trevor Cahill trade, Reyes has smooth hands at the plate, especially from the left side. He doesn’t use his legs well and usually ends up flicking the bat at balls with all his weight out over his front leg. The power needs to develop, especially with his left field defensive profile, but with only two homers on his professional record, it seems unlikely.

Hit: 30/40/45 Power: 25/30/30 Run: 50/50/50 Field: 50/50/50 Throw: 55/55/55

Oscar Hernandez, C

Hernandez carries a stiff, flat swing with below-average bat speed into the box, often getting choppy and hitting lots of ground balls and low line drives. He is above-average to plus on the receiving end. Though his transfers are not too fluid, he has enough arm strength to throw guys out at an above-average to plus rate in the future.

Hit: 30/35/40 Power: 25/30/30 Run: 35/35/35 Field: 50/55/55 Throw: 50/55/60


Taylor Clarke is a right-hander with a tight upper back that makes his delivery look muscled. He has some reliever potential, but only about fringe-average command of his fastball currently. Adam Miller is a hard thrower at 97-101 with heavy run and a good slider who is working on repeating his delivery. He was shut down in AFL play for a “non-injury-related issue.” Jose Martinez is another right-hander to watch, who finally got healthy this year. He has an athletic delivery, a quick arm, and his change-up is already pretty good.

Brad Keller is a big-framed pitcher with a propensity for getting ground balls and a projectable change-up. Zack Godley’s first MLB start was a great story, but he’s basically a one-trick pony with a low-90s cutter and below-average overall command. Jose Herrera received a large international signing bonus for his solid chops behind the plate. It remains to be seen what his bat will become.


Ildemaro Vargas, SS, VIDEO

Arizona has exhibited a nearly singular ability for identifying talent in the independent leagues. The author of a four-win season in 2015, outfielder David Peralta was originally signed by the Diamondbacks out of the American Association, the league within which current Toronto reliever Bo Schultz was found by the D-backs. Hard-throwing right-handed prospect Blayne Weller (designated as Cistulli’s Guy last year) returned to affiliated baseball by way of the Arizona system, as well.

Neither last nor least among the Diamondbacks’ indy league acquisitions is Vargas. Signed by the Cardinals out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Vargas was released by that club just before the 2015 season, spending about a month with Bridgeport of the Atlantic League before joining Arizona and their Class-A affiliate Kane County. While there, Vargas produced the second-lowest strikeout rate among all qualified minor-league batters (4.2%) while also exhibiting non-negligible power (.116 ISO) and recording roughly three-quarters of his defensive appearances at shortstop.

The ability to make contact affords him some margin for inadequacy throughout the rest of the profile. The weakest element of that profile is age. Vargas enters his age-24 season having experienced little success above A-ball. Ideally, he’d demonstrate some competence in Double-A by the end of it.

Dan is Fangraphs Lead Prospect Analyst, living in New York City. He played baseball for four years at Franklin & Marshall College before attending medical school. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @DWFarnsworth.

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6 years ago

Really well done Dan! Looking forward to this series, my Cub report cannot come fast enough.

Socrates Brito = 70 name tool!

Well-Beered Englishman
6 years ago
Reply to  Zonk

Socrates Brito vs. Arquimedes Euclides Caminero: the most anticipated matchup of 2016.