Picking up with our farm system reviews as the trade deadline approaches, we move on to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. It is not a new list. These are pre-season grades and rankings.
1) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Grade A-: 4.30 ERA with 95/36 K/BB in 82 innings in the minors (11 starts in Triple-A, one in High-A; in the majors, 4.11 ERA in six starts with a 31/10 K/BB in 35 innings. Should continue to improve.
2) Archie Bradley, RHP, Grade A-: 1.95 ERA in 19 starts between High-A and Double-A, 123/46 K/BB in 111 innings, just 87 hits and a .220 average against. Battling Taijuan Walker in the Mariners system for "Best Pitching Prospect in Baseball" honors. An excellent campaign.
3) Adam Eaton, OF, Grade B: Recently activated after missing the first half of the season with an elbow injury; hitting .225/.340/.300 in 13 games in the majors thus far. I still believe in him.
4) Matt Davidson, 3B, Grade B: Hitting .294/.365/.512 with 16 homers, 39 walks, 107 strikeouts in 367 at-bats for Triple-A Reno. Profile hasn't changed; still a Grade B power-hitting prospect with contact/batting average questions when he reaches the majors.
5) David Holmberg, LHP, Grade B: 2.92 ERA with 88/37 K/BB in 123 innings for Double-A Mobile, 109 hits. Continues to project as a workhorse inning-eater type.
6) Andrew Chafin, LHP, Grade B: 3.28 ERA with 92/46 K/BB in 121 innings combined between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile. Power lefty arm; I'd have to think his name would come up in trade talks.
7) Stryker Trahan, C, Grade B: Hitting .294/.375/.495 in 27 games for Missoula in the rookie-level Pioneer League, has thrown out 35% of runners. No complaints with the bat, still polishing defense, no change in stock.
8) Didi Gregorius, SS, Grade B-: Hitting .277/.347/.402 in the major leagues while playing well defensively. I think he will continue gradual but steady improvement and be a big league regular for the next decade.
9) Chris Owings, SS, Grade B-: If something happens to Didi, Owings is next in line. Hitting .345/.370/.493 for Reno, 16 walks, 83 strikeouts in 452 at-bats. Very athletic, good defensive tools and has some juice in the bat; poor plate discipline is his main problem. Another name to watch for in rumors.
10) Zeke Spruill, RHP, Grade B-: 2.91 ERA in 16 starts, 45/39 K/BB in 96 innings between Mobile and Reno. Low strikeout rate, but sinker is his key pitch. He'd be a rotation candidate for 2014 in some systems but Bradley, Skaggs will get first dibs here. Might fit best in pen.
11) A.J. Pollock, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .255/.297/.418 in 294 major league at-bats. Impressive defense will keep him employed, but would like to see a higher OBP to stick as a regular.
12) Anthony Meo, RHP, Grade B-: 5.36 ERA with 30/31 K/BB in 47 innings between Mobile and Visalia; significant command problems this year. More of a reliever than a starter I think.
13) Nick Ahmed, SS, Grade B-: Hitting .224/.282/.307 with 26 walks, 60 strikeouts in 352 at-bats for Mobile. Excellent defensive shortstop but has been unable to hit well against Double-A pitching at age 23. Glove alone should get him to the majors, but what happens then depends on the bat.
14) Chase Anderson, RHP, Grade B-: 5.30 ERA with 66/27 K/BB in 70 innings for Reno, 81 hits allowed. Not a great year and stock is down, but could still be a useful utility pitcher at some point.
15) Alfredo Marte, OF, Grade B-: Hitting .290/.332/.441 for Reno; hit .186/.271/.256 in 43 at-bats in the majors. Hard to see how he fits in here. I think I over-rated him a notch in the spring.
16) Jake Barrett, RHP, Grade B-: 1.69 ERA with 40/11 K/BB in 37 innings between Visalia and Mobile; 20 saves. Should make a good short reliever at least and has a chance to close.
17) Starling Peralta, RHP, Grade C+: Rule 5 pick was sent back to the Cubs system; has battled injuries and command problems; 30/10 K/BB in 27 innings with 7.24 ERA between High-A Daytona and rookie ball rehab.
18) Michael Perez, C, Grade C+: Hitting .181/.237/.325 with 101 strikeouts in 249 at-bats between Low-A and High-A. Good defender, young at age 20, but contact problems could ruin his career.
19) Jake Lamb, 3B, Grade C+: Hitting .287/.415/.558 for Visalia; very good season though limited to 129 at-bats by injury. Just began rehab in rookie ball. If you want a sleeper to track, take a look at Lamb, who has a good glove to go with the bat.
20) Jonathan Griffin, 1B, Grade C: Borderline C+: Hit just .232/.288/.314 in 61 games for Mobile, which got him sent back to Visalia where he's hitting .290/.335/.441. But he already proved himself at that level last year, so a backwards movement for a 24 year-old right-handed hitting first baseman is not a good sign.
21) Keon Broxton, OF, Grade C: Borderline C+: Hitting .222/.279/.348 for Mobile with 18 walks, 87 strikeouts in 230 at-bats. Power bat not working out in Double-A yet and he's now 23.
22) Eury De La Rosa, LHP, Grade C: 5.80 ERA with 46/25 K/BB in 45 innings for Reno. Possible LOOGY with sufficient command.
OTHERS: Michael Bolsinger, RHP; Tyler Bortnick, INF; Charles Brewer, RHP; Socrates Brito, OF; Brandon Drury, 3B-1B; Ben Eckels, RHP; Alex Glenn, OF; Evan Marshall, RHP; Evan Marzilli, OF; Kevin Medrano, 2B; Jose Munoz, SS; Kevin Munson, RHP; David Nick, 2B; Pedro Ruiz, SS; Andrew Velazquez, INF; Kyle Winkler, RHP.
The Diamondbacks have received impressive work from Didi Gregorius (Trevor who?) and useful contributions from rookies Pollock and Skaggs, while sophomore Patrick Corbin has emerged as the ace of the staff. There's more on the way, with at least eight players poised to make major league debuts in the next year or so, headlined by potential number one starter Archie Bradley.
As with most farm systems, some of the more marginal guys faded or failed, but others emerged to take their place. Mike Bolsinger is a strike-throwing utility pitcher who has held up to the tough environment at Reno and could sneak in some innings. Lamb is a very intriguing property. Brandon Drury has hit .312 with 37 doubles at Low-A South Bend, reviving his stock. The 2013 draft adds college arms Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair, capable of advancing quickly.
The talent at Reno and Mobile gives Arizona chits to work with: talent that is close to being ready for the majors, which could interest rebuilding teams who don't want to wait forever for prospects to arrive.
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