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January 17, 2014

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Diamondbacks list

The Top Ten

  1. RHP Archie Bradley
  2. SS Chris Owings
  3. RHP Braden Shipley
  4. RHP Jose Martinez
  5. RHP Aaron Blair
  6. C Stryker Trahan
  7. RHP Jake Barrett
  8. SS Sergio Alcantara
  9. OF Justin Williams
  10. 3B Jacob Lamb

1. Archie Bradley
Position: RHP
DOB: 08/10/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 225 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Broken Arrow HS (Broken Arrow, OK)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #31 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 1.97 ERA (123.1 IP, 93 H, 119 K, 59 BB) at Double-A Mobile, 1.26 ERA (28.2 IP, 22 H, 43 K, 10 BB) at High-A Visalia
The Tools: 7 FB; 7 potential CB; 6+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: The former seventh overall pick in 2011 took a big developmental step forward in his second full season, pitching his way to Double-A and showing more refinement without sacrificing the intensity of his raw stuff.

Strengths: Big, strong frame; fantastic arm speed/strength; fastball is plus-plus monster; routinely works 93-97; touches higher; late arm-side burst; misses bats and barrels; hard knuckle curveball is second plus-plus offering; big velocity and vertical depth; big time hammer; changeup can show plus; action with improving deception from fastball; aggressive competitor with 80-grade work ethic.

Weaknesses: Athletic but can lose his delivery; struggles to stay over the ball and finish his pitches; deception with the high leg and arm swing, but can struggle with balance and pace on the secondary offerings; command is below average at present; could limit full utility of arsenal; can start curveball too high in the zone; changeup needs more developmental time.

Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 1 starter

Realistic Role: High 6; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; 21 Double-A starts on resume.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Bradley has the makings of a special fantasy pitcher, with his workhorse build and three future plus pitches. There will be lots of strikeouts—potential for 220 in a season—and he should contribute a lot in ERA and wins as well. The only question mark is whether he’ll walk too many batters to be an impact WHIP guy. If he hovers above the 1.20 range, it will be tough for him to be an elite fantasy option, as the lowest WHIP recorded by a top-10 starter in 2013 was Jordan Zimmermann’s 1.09 mark.

The Year Ahead: Bradley is a true frontline power arm, with size, strength, and a highly intense arsenal that already features two well above-average offerings. The delivery can lack consistency and he struggles to finish his pitches, which can leave the ball up and arm side and cause his power curve to play too high in the zone. If the command continues to refine, a number one starter is a possible outcome; a true top-of-the-rotation starter capable of a heavy innings workload and gaudy strikeout totals. Even without sharp command, Bradley will find success in a major-league rotation, especially if the changeup lives up to its projection. Bradley is going to be one of the best young arms in baseball very soon.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Chris Owings
Position: SS
DOB: 08/12/1991
Height/Weight: 5’10” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2009 draft, Gilbert HS (Gilbert, SC)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #81 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .291/.361/.382 at major-league level (20 games), .330/.359/.482 at Triple-A Reno (125 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential hit; 5 potential power; 6 arm; 5 glove; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: Owings exceeded expectations with a very strong campaign in the upper minors and 20-game splash in the majors, where his tools played up to the level of competition.

Strengths: Plus athlete with excellent hand/eye coordination; sound swing with good bat speed and barrel control; very good fastball hitter that can sting velocity; hands work well at the plate and in the field; solid glovework and actions; arm plays plus, and capable of left-side throws; instincts and quick reactions help range play up; makes things happen on a field.

Weaknesses: Approach at the plate can get too fastball happy and aggressive; can struggle against quality off-speed/spin; lacks plus range at short; solid defender but lacks special defensive attributes; power might play below average at major-league level.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: It’s taken the fantasy community a while to warm up to Owings as a legitimate potential starting shortstop in all leagues, but we’re finally here. His 2013 season saw two nice progressions that we look for in fantasy—an increase in contact rate and more aggressiveness on the basepaths. Playing in a park that will draw out some extra juice from his bat, Owings has the potential to hit .290 with 15 homers and 15 steals. Oh, and he’s ready now.

The Year Ahead: Owings is highly skilled baseball player despite not owning highly acclaimed or projectable raw tools. The ability to strike a baseball will make him a solid-average major leaguer, regardless of his defensive home, but the infield skill set is good enough to stick at shortstop if the opportunity presents itself. Owings can bring all five tools into game action, and could develop into a well-rounded first-division player if the approach doesn’t limit the utility of the hit tool and he plays up (or beyond) his on paper tool grades. The ability to make adjustments at the plate will be paramount to his success, especially when the book is written and circulated around the league. I think Owings continues to refine and takes another step forward in 2014, developing into the type of player that we will look back on and wonder why he wasn’t rated higher when he was a prospect.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

3. Braden Shipley
Position: RHP
DOB: 02/22/1992
Height/Weight: 6’3” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, University of Nevada-Reno (Reno, NV)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 2.61 ERA (20.2 IP, 14 H, 16 K, 8 BB) at Low-A South Bend, 7.58 ERA (19 IP, 30 H, 24 K, 6 BB) at short-season Hillsboro
The Tools: 7 FB; 7 potential CH; 6+ potential CB

What Happened in 2013: Selected 15th overall in the 2013 draft, Shipley could end up looking like a steal, as the well above-average fastball and changeup arrived as advertised, and the curveball showed up even better than expected.

Strengths: Athletic; excellent size and present strength; delivery works; good arm action; fastball is lively in the 93-98 range; very comfortable in the mid-90s with arm-side giddy-up; changeup plays very well off fastball; good arm speed and heavy vertical action; curveball is a hammer, with velocity in the low 80s and two-plane break; good command projections; attacks hitters.

Weaknesses: Command is fringe at present; doesn’t always finish his pitches; tendency to miss arm side; excellent changeup but loses action when he leaves it up; can play too firm in the upper 80s; curveball can get wild out of his hand; easy plus projection but not a plus pitch at present.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Another good-sized right-hander with three potential plus pitches, Shipley can miss bats with the best of the arms in his 2013 draft class. He should be considered towards the end of the first round in dynasty drafts this year, and could be a big riser during the 2014 with strong potential in all four categories.

The Year Ahead: Shipley has the size, strength and arsenal to stand in the shadow of Archie Bradley without losing his light. The delivery is athletic with good command projection, the arm is fresh, the action is fluid and fast, and he could end up with two well above-average pitches and a third plus offering at maturity. It’s a no. 2 profile with some risk, but a full season of development will push the soon-to-be 22-year-old up prospect lists and into the national spotlight, where graduations from Bradley and Owings should make Shipley the top prospect in the Diamondbacks system.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

4. Jose Martinez
Position: RHP
DOB: 04/14/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 160 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 4.03 ERA (38 IP, 20 H, 30 K, 25 BB) at short-season Hillsboro
The Tools: 7+ potential FB; 7 potential CB; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In a return trip to the Northwest League, Martinez flashed his ridiculous fastball and curveball combination, but struggled with his delivery and control, walking 25 hitters in only 38 innings.

Strengths: Elite arm strength; elite arm speed; whippy fastball from ¾ slot that will work 92-97; has touched elite velocity in bursts; creates good angle; projects to settle in as true plus-plus weapon in the 96+ range; curveball is second plus-plus potential offering; slider-like but with more snap; true wipeout pitch with more command and consistency; some feel for turning over a changeup.

Weaknesses: Slight frame; needs to add strength; well below-average command at present; more thrower than pitcher; flies open in the delivery and gets very arm heavy; changeup is often overthrown and deliberate in the release; projectable but below average at present.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; late-innings reliever (closer)

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; yet to pitch at full-season level.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Targeting short-season arms can be a tricky proposition, but the group of those arms who have more upside than Martinez can be counted on one hand. The role and future are all to be determined, but as I keep saying in this series, when you dig into the guppy pool for these teenage pitchers, always bet on velocity and stuff—and Martinez has that in spades.

The Year Ahead: When it comes to ceiling, Martinez can stand tall with the big boys in the system, but the risk associated with the profile is much higher. The 19-year-old has some of the best arm speed in the minors, a lighting-fast release that makes an already sexy fastball play even sexier because of its combination of velocity and late action. The build, the arm speed, and the potent fastball/curveball combo reminds some scouts of Yordano Ventura, but the overall pitchability is below average and drags the utility of the arsenal down. With improved command, Martinez could emerge as a premier prospect in baseball, but that’s a much easier to statement to make on paper than it is to execute on a mound. Martinez will move to the full-season level in 2014, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the strikeout totals start turning heads even if the strike-throwing remains a work in progress.

Major league ETA: 2017

5. Aaron Blair
Position: RHP
DOB: 05/26/1992
Height/Weight: 6’5” 230 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, Marshall University (Huntington, WV)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 3.57 ERA (17.2 IP, 19 H, 13 K, 4 BB) at Low-A South Bend, 2.90 ERA (31 IP, 25 H, 28 K, 13 BB) at short-season Hillsboro
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 CH; 5 potential SL; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: Popped 36th overall in the 2013 draft, Blair is a safe yet unspectacular starter who wasted little time showing off his mature arsenal in 11 starts after signing.

Strengths: Big, strong body; shows athleticism in the delivery; repeatable mechanics; arm works well; fastball is solid-average to plus; works low 90s and can bump higher; good arm-side boring action; changeup is above-average pitch and should play as plus; good fastball disguise and off-the-barrel action; can locate both a slider and a curveball; solid command profile and workload projection.

Weaknesses: Physically mature; limited arsenal projection; fastball velocity can play average in the 90-91 range; breaking balls play as fringe-average offerings at present; both pitches lack intensity and bat-missing bite; what you see if probably what you will get; needs to work down and sequence to find success.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; limited professional experience

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Blair gets a little lost with other arms from the 2013 draft class, but he should be able to be somewhat solid in all four categories. His ERA may struggle because he likes to elevate, leaving him susceptible to the long ball, and the strikeouts won’t make a huge difference (think 150-160 in a full season). He’s a better target the deeper your league is.

The Year Ahead: Blair should be an innings-chewer in a major-league rotation, a big-bodied and durable starter with a four-pitch mix, including a zone-pounding low-90s fastball and a quality changeup. He can reach his ultimate projection with improved command and refined breaking ball utility, but there isn’t a big gap between his ceiling and his floor. Blair should move quickly in the Arizona system, with a chance to reach Double-A at some point in 2014, and with good results, could pitch his way to the majors by the end of the 2015 season.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

6. Stryker Trahan
Position: C
DOB: 04/25/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 215 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Acadiana HS (Lafayette, LA)
Previous Ranking: #6 (Org)
2013 Stats: .254/.328/.462 at rookie level Pioneer League (59 games)
The Tools: 6 potential power; 7 arm; 5 potential glove; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: Trahan moved up a level to the Pioneer League in 2013, and while his power still oozes projection, the hit tool and defensive profile continue to leave scouts on the fence about his future.

Strengths: Football body; plus strength and good athleticism; power swing from the left-side; generates loft and leverage; plus power potential; raw arm is plus-plus; utility should play over plus; runs well for position.

Weaknesses: Lost some fluidity in actions because of body bulk; below-average receiver at present; can get casual with footwork and framing; hit tool likely to play below average; struggles with pitch recognition and bat control; will likely struggle against sequence and spin.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; second-division player

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; dual-threat development; yet to play at full-season level.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: This past season does little to mute the type of offensive upside that Trahan has behind the plate, if he does indeed stay there. However, therein lies the problem. As an outfielder, he’d be far less interesting for fantasy (as a potential .275+ hitter capable of hitting 20 homers), but he certainly clears the bar for ownership among fantasy catching prospects.

The Year Ahead: Trahan’s career path is still undetermined, as sources are mixed on his long-term defensive home, and having seen Trahan in person and behind the plate, I’m still on the fence as well about his ability to make it work. He has all the necessary physical gifts, but the receiving has a long way to go, and some believe that his bat would be better served if the focus shifted from a dual-threat development to a more narrow approach. This will play out over the next few years, but in addition to the glove, the bat will need to take big steps forward in the coming years if its going to play, even more so if Trahan moves to a corner outfield spot. Full-season ball is going to be a huge challenge for the 19-year-old, and I can see the swing and miss getting exploited by better stuff and the stock dropping throughout the season.

Major league ETA: 2017

7. Jake Barrett
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/22/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 230 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: 0.36 ERA (24.2 IP, 18 H, 22 K, 3 BB) at Double-A Mobile, 1.98 ERA (27.1 IP, 21 H, 37 K, 9 BB) at High-A Visalia
The Tools: 6+ FB; 6 SL

What Happened in 2013: In his first full season of action, the former third round pick pitched his way to Double-A, allowing only 7 earned runs in 52 innings of relief work.

Strengths: Excellent size/present strength; excellent fastball; routinely works 95+; good life; slider is second plus offering; mid-80s velocity and sharp two-plane movement; can drop tumbling changeup; delivery works well and has some pitchability despite short-burst profile.

Weaknesses: Fastball command is fringe; can overthrow the slider and lose the depth; more deliberate when showing the changeup.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; late-innings reliever (closer)

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; Double-A/AFL experience; stuff to play at present.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The relief profile is not a sexy one for fantasy purposes, and the fact that Addison Reed just arrived in the desert likely means that Barrett will be looking up in the depth chart at him even if he does develop into a shutdown reliever quickly. Saves are saves, and relievers who don’t get them can only do so much for you.

The Year Ahead: As much I dislike ranking relievers on prospect lists—I realize their value to a major-league team but they are also more ubiquitous in nature—Barrett’s proximity to the majors and likelihood of sustainable success at the back of a major-league bullpen warrants the inclusion. With two highly potent offerings in the fastball and slider and good overall feel for strike throwing, the 22-year-old righty is able to miss a lot of bats by attacking the zone. It shouldn’t take long for Barrett to develop into a frontline setup option, and if the command refines, he has the stuff and the approach to close games at the major-league level.

Major league ETA: 2014

8. Sergio Alcantara
Position: SS
DOB: 07/10/1996
Height/Weight: 5’10” 150 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2012, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .243/.398/.320 at complex level AZL (48 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit; 7 arm; 6+ potential glove

What Happened in 2013: After receiving a high six-figure bonus in the 2012 J2 window, Alcantara skipped over a Dominican complex assignment in 2013 and jumped straight to the stateside ball, where he was the youngest player in the Arizona league.

Strengths: Special instincts; impressive glove work at shortstop; easy and fluid actions; soft hands; glove could grade over plus; arm is well above average; a true weapon; instincts and a quick first step allow for range; good bat-to-ball-skills; mature approach tracks the ball very well; uses the middle of the diamond.

Weaknesses: Fringe run at present; lacks much projection with that tool; limited size and strength; bat could be empty (hit tool only); well below-average power potential.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Extreme risk; complex-league resume; 17 years old

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: : The defense moves him onto this list from a real-life perspective, but Alcantara isn’t worth paying attention to for fantasy yet. We’ll check back in on him in another year.

The Year Ahead: Alcantara has the type of skill set to develop into a premier prospect, with instincts and feel for the game that you can’t teach, an impact arm, and slick actions in the field. The bat could be light, but the 17-year-old already shows an advanced approach and ability to track and react to pitches, so there’s a chance he can offer more than just slappy contact. The lack of speed could also be an issue, but the instincts and first-step help in the field, and with improved strength and conditioning, the speed might be able to play to average. Keep an eye on this kid.

Major league ETA: 2018

9. Justin Williams
Position: OF
DOB: 08/20/1995
Height/Weight: 6’2’’ 215 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013 draft, Terrebonne High School (Houma, LA)
Previous Ranking: N/R
2013 Stats: .345/.398/.446 at Arizona League (37 games); .412/.423/.529 at short-season Missoula (11 games)
The Tools: 7 power potential; 5 potential hit; 5 potential arm; 5 potential glove

What Happened in 2013: Despite being a young high school draftee at age 17, Williams ripped the ball after signing, showing a good feel for loud contact against older competition.

Strengths: Physical and strong; monster power potential in the bat; rotational swing and quick hands produce easy plus bat speed; loose and easy; good feel for contact; shows some bat control

Weaknesses: Body could become high-maintenance; room to add bad weight; speed is fringe; overall athletic profile isn’t great; will expand and chase at the plate; can get overly aggressive; questions about projection/utility of hit tool against better arms; throwing mechanics need work in the outfield; fringe-average at present; read/routes are very raw.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; platoon bat/below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional experience.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The power is very tempting with Williams, as it could be of the 30-homer variety if it plays up to his potential. Of course, we’re a long way from that, so for now he’s an interesting flier for fantasy and someone to look at as you draw towards the end of your dynasty drafts.

The Year Ahead: Williams has some of the best raw power on the scene, but concerns about his approach and hit tool stemming from his amateur days give pause when it comes to projecting his game power. He can get aggressive at the plate, and has a tendency to expand and chase secondary stuff, which could get exploited in a full-season at the full season level. If the hit tool and approach prove to be better than advertised, the raw left-handed power could really make Williams a standout prospect, regardless of the limitations on defense. As a recent convert to the outfield, his defense is understandably raw and unrefined, but he should develop into a passable corner glove, with several sources calling left-field his future home.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Jacob Lamb
Position: 3B
DOB: 10/09/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2” 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2012 draft, University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .303/.424/.558 at High-A Visalia (64 games), .294/.381/.412 at complex level AZL (5 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 5+ potential power; 6 arm; 5 glove

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, Lamb jumped to the California League and continued his professional trend of hitting for average and power, despite losing time to a broken bone in his hand.

Strengths: Well-rounded player; good athlete with present strength; shows the ability to drive the baseball to all fields; works at-bats and puts himself in favorable hitting conditions; shows above-average power potential; good hands in the field; solid-average glove; strong arm; can make plays.

Weaknesses: Swing features some swing and miss in the zone; struggles to cover the outer third; footwork at third can get casual; lacks big range; questions about game power against better pitching.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to play at Double-A level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: With Lamb’s future fantasy value, it’s all about the power. He’s shown it in high-offensive environments thus far, but if he’s a 12-15 homer guy in the end versus 20+, it’s essentially the difference between being replacement level (or below) and a bona fide fantasy starter. He’s another guy, like Blair, who is a better target in deep leagues.

The Year Ahead: Lamb is a prospect that seems to get more love from the statistical community than the scouts, as the 23-year-old has put up impressive offensive numbers at every stop—including a very high on-base percentage in High-A—but his swing might not have the characteristics to make him a big threat against better pitching; with some swing and miss on offerings in the zone, and reports about exploitable holes in the swing [itself], more advanced arms could expose Lamb at the plate. He does show some bat speed and barreling ability, especially against weaker stuff, but several sources called him a bad ball hitter that is likely to struggle against quality velocity and secondary arsenals, and despite projecting to the major-league level, the bat might not play enough to make him a regular. Double-A will be a big test for the bat.

Major league ETA: 2015


Prospects on the Rise:
1. SS Jose Munoz:
An “On the Rise” prospect on last year’s rankings, Munoz’s bat made a case for his inclusion on the top ten this year, but the strong draft crop of 2013 left him waiting in the wings. The offensive profile is projectable, with a strong swing and power to dream on, but he is likely to outgrow shortstop and will be a better fit for the hot corner, where his actions and arm will be weapons. I think he’s ready to take another step forward in 2014 and finally etch his name onto a top 10 list.

2. RHP Brad Keller: Even with workhorse size and strength, Keller fell to the eighth round in the 2013 draft, but wasted little time making his name known, pounding the zone with a low-90s fastball and throwing two secondary offerings for strikes, and pitching his way to the Pioneer League. The 18-year-old lacks frontline stuff or projections, but a solid-average mix or a strong, physical body could give the Dbacks an innings-chewer type.

3. 3B Brandon Drury: Acquired from the Braves in the Justin Upton trade, Drury really stepped forward on both sides of the ball in 2013, showing a well-rounded stick at the plate and better chops in the field. There are still questions about the power utility and if it will play enough for Drury to profile as a major-league regular, but if he makes the same developmental progress in 2014 as he did in 2013, the 21-year-old will jump into the top 10 in this system.


Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. LHP Andrew Chafin: The former first-round pick was slotted seventh on last season’s top 10, but fell after an uneven run in Double-A, where the lefty limited damage but failed to miss many bats. The profile might be a better fit in relief, where the solid-avg to plus fastball could play up and the slider could miss more bats and not just barrels. In the rotation, he can bring a solid three-pitch mix and some pitchability, but the command profile would need to be sharp to find a sustainable home at the back of a major-league rotation.

2. RHP Matt Stites: Short in size but not lacking in stuff, Stites is well on his way to developing into a late-innings options for the Diamondbacks. The 23-year-old can miss bats with a plus-plus fastball that works in the 95+ range, backed up with an above-average mid-80s slider. The delivery has effort and the command comes and goes, but the combination of stuff, approach, and control should make him a setup option at some point in 2014.

3. RHP Willy Paredes: Relatively unknown reliever signed by the Diamondbacks in 2011, the soon-to-be 25-year-old Dominican arm features a grotesquely heavy mid-90s sinker that can touch higher in bursts that he can ride all the way to a late-inning opportunity at the major-league level in 2014. He can miss bats. Keep him on your radar.


Top 10 Talents 25 and Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Archie Bradley
  2. Chris Owings
  3. Braden Shipley
  4. Patrick Corbin
  5. Didi Gregorius
  6. Randall Delgado
  7. Jose Martinez
  8. Aaron Blair
  9. Stryker Trahan
  10. Jake Barrett


The Diamondbacks boast a pitching-heavy collection of under-25 talent, headlined by potential future ace Archie Bradley. Bradley powered through two levels in 2013, showcasing a potential plus-plus fastball/curveball tandem as well as a change piece that can grade as plus or better. Bradley is built to shoulder a heavy load, and should be ready to join the big club at some point this summer. 2013 first rounder Braden Shipley has electric raw stuff just a step behind Bradley, and despite a limited track record on the hill could move quickly once immersed in pro instruction. The two could form a dominant top of the rotation as early as 2016.

The next two arms on the list, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado, have already shown success at the major-league level, with Corbin earning an All-Star nod in 2013. Corbin chewed through 200-plus innings last summer while maintaining his stuff throughout a long season and figures to be a fixture in the middle of the rotation for the foreseeable future. Delgado made 19 starts between June and September, averaging over six innings a start while pounding the strike zone with his three-pitch arsenal. The changeup is a difference maker, drawing empty swings and soft contact, and if he can find more consistency with the breaker he could profile well alongside Corbin as a mid-rotation producer.

On upside alone Jose Martinez stacks up well with Bradley and Shipley, though the 2011 international signee has yet to be tested with full season ball. The young hurler boasts two potential plus-plus offerings and a third that could register as at least a six on the two-eight scouting scale. Aaron Blair projects as a workhorse with mid-rotation upside, while Jake Barrett could provide late-inning value off the strength of a plus fastball/slider combo. Eury de la Rosa and Zeke Spruill both qualify for the list and logged time in Arizona in 2013. De la Rosa profiles as a lefty specialist whose sinker/slider pairing eats up same side sticks, while Spruill utilizes a heavy fastball and lively change to miss barrels. He could fit as a middle-relief arm or in the back of the rotation, depending on ultimate team need.

While only three position players made this year’s 25-and-under list, the trio currently resides at up-the-middle positions with each carrying profiles as future everyday major-league contributors. Chris Owings ranks atop the triumvirate, with average or better grades across his game, and a six-plus hit serving as his carrying tool—an impressive package at the six spot. Didi Gregorius also calls short his home, though his profile skews more heavily to the defensive side, with an average hit tool and minimal pop. He and Owings will enter the spring competing for the team’s starting shortstop gig in what should be one of the more interesting positional battles to follow. Stryker Trahan is currently being developed as a backstop, and he has more than enough athleticism and arm strength to stick there long term. Should the Dbacks look to put the bat on the fast track, he could handle right field or first base, with the offensive profile fitting either spot. The former first rounder will likely tackle full-season ball in Low A South Bend this summer. Also eligible for the list, and logging time with Arizona last summer, Alfredo Marte profiles as a fourth outfielder or second division starter with an average offensive skill set out of a corner outfield spot. —Nick J. Faleris


A Parting Thought: Any system that can boast one of the best young arms in baseball (Bradley) has a good foundation, and when you factor in a combination of high-ceiling rotation arms (Shipley, Martinez) and high-ceiling positional talent (Trahan, Williams, Alcantara), the future has the potential to be even brighter than the present.

***

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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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