Arizona Diamondbacks Top 20 prospects for 2017
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. All of these grades are subject to change as the winter progresses. The final grades will be finished sometime in February when all 30 teams are complete.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player
1) Anthony Banda, LHP, Grade B: Age 23, acquired in Gerardo Parra trade in 2014, posted 2.88 ERA in 150 innings in Double-A and Triple-A with 152/55 K/BB and 144 hits; pitched very well in difficult Pacific Coast League; smooth 6-2, 190 pound lefty with fastball at 90-94, peaks at 96; very good curveball out-pitch; change-up is mediocre; general control is ahead of his command to specific spots within the strike zone but he’s made progress and will be ready for a trial soon. Upside: number three starter. ETA 2017.
2) Domingo Leyba, 2B-SS, Grade B: Age 21, hit combined .296/.355/.429 between High-A and Double-A with no loss of production after promotion, posted 132 wRC+ for Mobile, 32 doubles, 10 homers, 46 walks, 84 strikeouts in 496 at-bats; switch-hitter with good bat speed, doubles power, and improved plate discipline over the last year; defensive tools fit best at second base; tools don’t project to star level but baseball skills are coming along; most observers doubt he’ll show power in the majors but there may be more there than people anticipate. ETA: 2018.
3) Taylor Clarke, RHP, Grade B-: Age 23, third round pick in 2015 from College of Charleston; posted 3.31 ERA with 118/33 K/BB in 149 innings between Low-A, High-A, and Double-A; Tommy John survivor has low-90s fastball that can touch 95-96, with movement; also has an above-average slider difficult for right-handed hitters to pick up; change-up is erratic, drawing grades varying between 40 and 50 depending on the day; throws strikes; could be workhorse type if change-up maxes out but many observers think he will wind up in bullpen. ETA 2018.
4) Dawel Lugo, SS-3B, Grade B-: Age 21, acquired from Blue Jays in 2015 trade; hit .311/.339/.492 with 17 homers, 19 walks, 56 strikeouts in 488 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; despite youth and good surface numbers he draws wildly varying evaluations; agreement exists on his strong throwing arm and raw power, but erratic feel for the strike zone is a big handicap; some observers think he can improve substantially and hit for both power and average going forward but this is not unanimous; declining range fits best at third base but will put more pressure on his bat. ETA: 2018.
5) Jasrado Chisholm, SS, Grade B-: Age 18, signed out of Bahamas in 2015; hit .281/.333/.446 with nine homers, 13 steals, 19 walks, 73 strikeout in 249 at-bats in Pioneer League; left-handed hitter with athleticism, probably enough arm strength and range to stick at shortstop; wiry strong, may develop more power as he matures, needs to tighten up strike zone; already a positive force on the bases; high-ceiling player who will need time to develop. ETA: 2022.
6) Anfernee Grier, OF, Grade B-: Age 21, competitive balance pick in 2016 out of Auburn University; hit .240/.278/.307 in 75 at-bats in Northwest League, three walks, 21 strikeouts, nine steals; right-handed hitter with excellent physical tools, 60-grade speed, power potential is at least average, runs well enough for center but arm strength and instincts may fit best in left field ultimately; pro pitching revealed flaws in swing mechanics, strike zone judgment that will need time to correct; high ceiling, high risk player. ETA: 2020.
7) Jon Duplantier, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 22, third round pick in 2016 out of Rice University, posted 3.24 ERA in 111 innings with 148/47 K/BB and 77 hits allowed during the spring; shut down after just one pro inning due to a sore elbow; missed all of 2015 with a shoulder problem; hits 93-96 when healthy with above-average curveball and adequate change-up; overpowering at his best but Rice pitchers have a scary history; has the stuff to start but durability is a big concern. ETA: 2019.
8) Socrates Brito, OF, Grade C+: Age 24, hit .294/.322/.439 in 303 at-bats in Triple-A, .179/.196/.358 in 95 major league at-bats with two walks, 23 strikeouts; strong/quick athlete still learning baseball skills; good raw power, well above-average speed, strong throwing arm, but approach remains unrefined particularly with strike zone eye; tools to be a regular but skills may never get to that level though would still be useful on bench. ETA: 2017.
9) Alex Young, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, second round pick in 2015 from Texas Christian; posted 3.56 ERA in 119 innings between Low-A and High-A with 93/37 K/BB, 118 hits; fastball around 90 played up in college and low minors due to contrast with plus slider and solid change-up, but secondary pitches weakened as 2016 season progressed; there’s some concern he may wind up in the bullpen if stuff remains down a bit as a starter; transition to Double-A in 2017 will be very illuminating. ETA: 2019.
10) Jimmie Sherfy, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, 10th round pick in 2013 from University of Oregon, 2.77 ERA in 55 innings between High-A, Double-A, Triple-A with 79/24 K/BB, just 31 hits, 30 saves; had control problems after reaching Triple-A that will need to be remedied; no question about his stuff, fastball up to 95-97 earns 70-grades from scouts due to movement; also has a plus slider; even small improvement in command could take him a long way. ETA: 2017.
11) Victor Reyes, OF, Grade C+: Age 22, switch-hitter from Venezuela acquired from Braves in 2015; hit .303/.349/.416 with 11 doubles, 12 triples, 20 steals, 33 walks in 469 at-bats in High-a; hit .313/.434/.389 in Low-A in 2015; line drive hitter with fringy/average tools but good instincts, good stolen base record despite average running speed; has room to get stronger with 6-3, 175 pound frame; some sources consider him one of the top prospects in the organization while others don’t view him as much of a prospect at all; we’ll split the difference. ETA 2019.
12) Cody Reed, LHP, Grade C+: Age 20, second round pick in 2014 from high school in Alabama; not to be confused with Cody "Mississippi" Reed in the Reds system; Alabama Reed was excellent in Midwest League (1.82 ERA in 40 innings, 55/3 K/BB) but terrible in the Cal League (6.06, 29/17 in 36) and was shut down in July with an undisclosed injury; pitched in instructional league but multiple sources report his fastball declined to just 85 MPH; when healthy shows 90 MPH fastball with a plus slider and sharp control but that all vanished after he moved up to Visalia; seems obvious there’s a health issue here. ETA: ??? depends on health.
13) Jared Miller, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, 11th round pick in 2014 out of Vanderbilt; huge lefty (6-7, 240) posted 2.64 ERA at four levels with 80/23 K/BB in 61 innings, 36 hits; followed up with excellent pitching in Arizona Fall League; fastball as high as 97 with a nice cutter/slider; command took a step forward after moving to bullpen; has the stuff to be more than just a LOOGY if his command holds up. ETA 2017.
14) Andy Yerzy, C, Grade C+: Age 18, second round pick in 2016 from high school in Canada; hit .216/.240/.265 in 162 at-bats in rookie ball, which is terrible; ranks this highly in a thin farm system entirely due to physical potential; lefty hitter with 60-grade power and a good birthday; otherwise quite raw as a hitter and fielder; high-upside bat with a very large risk premium. ETA: 2022.
15) Marcus Wilson, OF, Grade C+/C: Age 20, competitive balance pick in 2014 from high school in California; right-handed hitter batted .252/.394/.346 with 25 steals, 51 walks in 234 at-bats between Northwest and Midwest Leagues; best tool is 60-grade speed but there’s untapped power in the bat and he already controls the strike zone reasonably well despite an elevated strikeout rate; swing mechanics need work but he’s made progress since hitting just .206 in rookie ball when drafted; keep track of him. ETA: 2021.
16) Ryan January, C, Grade C+/C: Age 19, eighth round pick in 2016 from San Jacinto Junior College; hit .273/.376/.470 in Pioneer League with 10 homers, 26 walks, 63 strikeouts in 183 at-bats; some contact issues apparent but power and throwing arm stand out as plus tools; raw on defense but young enough to grow into the position with more reps; ETA 2020.
17) Matt Koch, RHP, Grade C+/C: Age 26, third round pick by the Mets in 2012, acquired by Diamondbacks for Addison Reed in 2015; posted 4.08 ERA in 121 innings in Double-A/Triple-A with 74/19 K/BB; pitched 18 innings in the majors with 2.00 ERA, 10/4 K/BB; although he started in the minors I think he is better-suited for relief work; throws strikes, fastball in low-90s, good slider; change-up is mediocre, another reason for him to fit in relief. ETA: 2017.
18) Jack Reinheimer, INF, Grade C+/C: Age 24, third round pick in 2013 from East Carolina by the Mariners, traded to Diamondbacks in Mark Trumbo deal; hit .288/.353/.384 in Triple-A with 20 steals; lacks power but has good strike zone judgment; solid defender at shortstop, range is average but he is very reliable; has been very good in limited looks at second base; utility projection due to valuable defense and speed. ETA 2017.
19) Joey Krehbiel, RHP, Grade C+/C: Age 23, 12th round pick by the Angels in 2011, traded to Arizona in 2014 Joe Thatcher deal; posted 2.75 ERA in 56 innings in Double-A with 66/23 K/BB, 42 hits; drew notice in Arizona Fall League with 20/6 K/BB in 13 innings, just six hits; fastball in low-90s and eats up right-handers with his arm slot; middle relief sleeper. ETA late 2017.
20) Ildemaro Vargas, INF, Grade C+/C: Age 25, from Venezuela; hit .305/.360/.400 with 21 steals in 22 attempts, 37 walks, 44 strikeouts in 525 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A; best position is second base but not bad at shortstop and third, also has some outfield experience; lacks power but makes contact; glove and speed put him in contention for a utility spot. ETA 2017.
OTHER GRADE C+/C: Luis Alejandro Basabe, 2B: Justin Donatella, RHP; Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP; Curtis Taylor, RHP;
GRADE C prospects: Sergio Alcantara, SS; Jose Almonte, RHP; Ryan Burr, RHP; Austin Byler, 1B; Henry Castillo, INF; Tommy Eveld, RHP; Daniel Gibson, LHP; Kevin Ginkel, RHP; Oscar Hernandez, C; Jose Herrera, C; Mark Karaviotis, SS; Brad Keller, RHP; Mack Lemieux, LHP; Yoan Lopez, RHP; Gabriel Maciel, OF; Tyler Mark, RHP; Sam McWilliams, RHP; Peter O’Brien, OF-1B; Josh Taylor, LHP; Jordan Watson, LHP; Jamie Westbrook, 2B.
Despite the damage done by the Dave Stewart regime, I don't think this system is completely hopeless. There's some infield depth and a few interesting arms, but the lack of impact talent is glaring. Note that the large number of C/C+ types means there will likely be little unanimity among analyst prospect lists once you get past the top few players.
We can discuss in the comments thread.