Arizona Diamondbacks Top 20 prospects for 2016
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. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
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. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. 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) Archie Bradley, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 23, posted 5.80 ERA with 23/22 K/BB in 36 major league innings, 2.76 ERA with 32/10 K/BB in 29 major league innings at three stops for rehab work with shoulder trouble. Command problems and getting hit in the head by a line drive will ruin your year. I still think he has the upside of a number two starter but he needs innings more than anything; has to prove 2015 shoulder and 2014 elbow issues are just temporary setbacks. No way to predict that from here but still the class of the system in upside terms.
2) Braden Shipley, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 23, posted 3.50 ERA with 118/56 K/BB in 157 innings in Double-A, 147 hits, still somewhat erratic, looks like athletic number two starter with three plus pitches (low-90s fastball, plus change, solid curve) on his best days but on a bad day he’ll get blown up quickly when his location slips. Results not always the sum of the parts but I think he gets there eventually.
3) Brandon Drury, 3B, Grade B: Age 23, hit .303/.344/.412 with 40 doubles, five homers, 32 walks, 76 strikeouts in 524 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A, hit .214/.254/.375 in 56 major league at-bats. Very skilled defender at third base, lashes line drives all over the field and makes easy contact, lacks home run power despite strong 6-1, 215 frame. Doubles may become homers in time, or they may not, but should provide good average, gap power, strong defense.
4) Tyler Wagner, RHP, Grade B-: Age 25, acquired in trade with Brewers, something of an overlooked prospect but that may change with new team, 2.25 ERA with 120/45 K/BB in 152 innings in Double-A, strong ground ball pitcher with heavy low-90s sinker, average slider and change-up, throws strikes, durable, fourth starter type.
5) Cody Reed, LHP, Grade B-: Age 19, not to be confused with Reds LHP Cody Reed but they have some similarities, 3.27 ERA with 72/21 K/BB in 63 innings in short-season Northwest League, big bodied pitcher has to watch weight, low-90s fastball with plus slider and promising change-up, throws strikes, number three starter potential once he proves he can handle workload.
6) Alex Young, LHP, Grade B-: Age 22, second round pick in 2015 from Texas Christian, 1.29 ERA with 6/1 K/BB in seven innings in debut between rookie ball and NWL, 88-93 fastball with movement, solid slider, change-up has average potential, throws strikes, another potential number three or four starter who could move quickly.
7) Socrates Brito, OF, Grade B-: Age 23, hit .300/.339/.451 with 17 doubles, 15 triples, nine homers, 20 steals, 29 walks, 84 strikeouts in 490 at-bats in Double-A, hit .303/.342/.455 in 33 big league at-bats. Promising toolset with left-handed bat, plus speed, plus throwing arm, plus defender, still impatient but doing a better job making contact and getting to his power. Broad base of tools and skills are steadily developing.
8) Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, signed out of Taiwan in 2014, posted 2.00 ERA with 68/16 K/BB in 77 innings in Low-A, 58 hits, excellent performance so far, fastball in 88-92 range, best pitch is strong change-up and will mix in some quality curves, command and control big positives. Upside limited but high floor, fourth starter command type. I’d like to see how he handles a large workload.
9) Taylor Clarke, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, third round pick in 2015 from College of Charleston, threw 21 scoreless innings in pro debut in Northwest League with 27/4 K/BB. College stats were ridiculous: 1.73 ERA, 143/14 K/BB in 114 innings, 76 hits. Relieved in pro ball but that was for workload reasons, should return to starting. 90-95 fastball, slider and change-up just average on their own terms but everything plays up due to stellar command and deception.
10) Silvino Bracho, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, posted 1.81 ERA with 59/9 K/BB in 45 innings in Double-A, 1.46 ERA with 17/4 K/BB in 12 major league innings. You won’t see him this high on other lists as people are generally skeptical about 5-10 relief pitchers. I understand that but on his own merits this guy deserves praise, 90-95 fastball, mixes in solid slider and change-up, outstanding performance with career 1.52 ERA, 211/26 K/BB in 148 minor league innings, just 103 hits, 64 saves in 69 opportunities. An open-minded team should give him a chance to close.
11) Peter O’Brien, C-OF-1B, Grade C+/B-: Age 25, hit .284/.332/.551 with 26 homers, 31 walks, 124 strikeouts in 490 at-bats in Triple-A, went 4-for-10 with a homer and five strikeouts in the majors. No question about home run power: he has a ton of it. He also strikes out a lot and is unlikely to hit for average or OBP in the majors. Defense behind the plate remains substandard though he works hard at it, can also play outfield and first base but not really good anywhere. Could hit .250 with 20 homers if they find a spot for him.
12) Yoan Lopez, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 23, 4.69 ERA with 32/24 K/BB in 48 innings in Double-A, disappointing debut after they spent more than $8,000,000 to sign Cuban right-hander, fastball up to 95-96 but curveball, change-up erratic, overall command not very good and there are questions about his makeup. Many project him as a reliever at this point.
13) Zack Godley, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, 2.71 ERA with 90/29 K/BB in 100 innings between High-A and Double-A, posted 3.19 ERA in 37 major league innings, 34/17 K/BB, but retains rookie status entering 2016. Nothing special with the stuff, 88-92 fastball, mixing in cutter, change, curve, but a good track record of success despite lack of big scouting buzz. Should be competent fifth starter or bullpen option.
14) Jamie Westbrook, 2B, Grade C+: Age 20, fifth round pick in 2013 from high school in Arizona, hit .319/.357/.510 with 33 doubles, 17 homers, 14 steals, 24 walks, 69 strikeouts in 480 at-bats in High-A. Not getting much attention, 5-9 second baseman, lacks big defensive tools but reliable around the bag, was helped by Cal League but has some real pop in the bat and was just 19/20 years old, sleeper/scrapper types bears close watching.
15) Anthony Banda, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, strike-throwing lefty thrived in difficult Cal League, 3.32 ERA with 152/39 K/BB in 152 innings, average fastball, curve, change-up but deceptive, throws strikes, fourth starter potential, this could end up looking too low if his approach carries well to Double-A.
16) Jake Barrett, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, on the radar as relief prospect for a while now but hasn’t taken step forward, 4.58 ERA with 51/23 K/BB in 53 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 94-98 fastball with plus slider at his best but command control remain inconsistent and in general he seems kind of stagnant as a prospect.
17) Gabriel Guerrero, OF, Grade C+: Age 22, looks like a player with 6-3, 190 pound athletic body, great bloodlines of course as Vladimir’s nephew but 2015 was very disappointing, hit .222/.258/.343 in Double-A, 23 walks, 108 strikeouts in 460 at-bats. Disturbing fact: he’s never hit well outside of the Dominican Summer League and the Cal League. Poor strike zone judgment combined with swing mechanics that don’t turn strength into power is a really bad combination, even if your name was BabeRuthTyCobbHankAaronRobertoClementeGuerrero.
18) Ryan Burr, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, fifth round pick in 2015 out of Arizona State, posted 1.06 ERA with 49/11 K/BB in 34 innings between NWL and Low-A, mid-90s fastball with erratic breaking stuff, command comes and goes but overpowering at his best. Similar to Barrett, a fellow Arizona State product, at the same stage.
19) Jack Reinheimer, INF, Grade C+: Age 23, hit .270/.342/.363 with five homers, 21 steals, 51 walks, 93 strikeouts in 485 at-bats in Double-A, very skilled defender can play quality major league shortstop but bat keeps him from ranking higher, makes contact and can swipe a base but lacks power, little ball type, could hit an empty .250. Caveat: some players with similar profiles have unexpected offensive surges in their late 20s. That could happen here.
20) Carlos Hernandez, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, posted 2.32 ERA with 93/27 K/BB in 85 innings in Northwest League, 58 hits, not getting a lot of play as a 5-11 right-hander who hasn’t reached full-season ball yet but I wanted to point him out, low-90s fastball with plus slider, workable change-up, command has improved greatly over the last two years. Another potential back-end starter. You could put any of the other C+ guys here, so I will cut/paste their book write-ups into the comments section below for your reading pleasure.
OTHER GRADE C+: Colin Bray, OF; Austin Byler, 1B; Daniel Gibson, LHP; Brad Keller, RHP; Domingo Leyba, INF; Dawel Lugo, SS.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Zach Borenstein, OF; Zac Curtis, LHP; Todd Glaesmann, OF; Jose Herrera, C; Joey Krehbiel, RHP; Jose Martinez, RHP; Sam McWilliams, RHP; Adam Miller, RHP; Matt Railey, OF; Victor Reyes, OF; Marcus Wilson, OF
Despite all the trades there is still a considerable amount of C+ depth in this system. They need more impact types, particularly on the offensive side, but they have good foundations for a pitching staff here as well as some under-rated type sleeper prospects (Bracho, Westbrook, etc.) who may not show up highly on typical lists but who should contribute. .