Alright 12 readers still with us in late October, get your firecrackers, noisemakers, and elated cheers ready. For the return of Minor League Preview season is upon us. I know, I know, exciting times across Razz Nation. With that said let’s curb your enthusiasm a little, we’re starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lower case yay…. What can be said about the Diamondbacks system that hasn’t already been said about Detroit? It’s been decimated, depleted, and burned to the ground. Mostly by Dave Stewart, but I’m sure Tony LaRussa had a hand in that too. Top prospects like Dansby Swanson, Isan Diaz, and Aaron Blair were shipped off, and to make matters worse they lost their first round draft pick after signing Zack Greinke. So we’re looking at a handful of second division regular types, some back of the rotation arms, and some long term toolsy players. Not exactly the bang you were looking for, but at least we have the Braves to look forward to. Heck they have at least 70 former Diamondback prospects. Holla Touki!!!
So going forward we’re going to be utilizing the tiered system set forth by my prospecting fore-father Prospector Mike. A tip of the cap, and raise of the axe to you sir. So we’ll be reviving the tried and true tiers of “Specs on the Beach” for your top 100 darlings, “Floorboreds” for your less exciting, but safe prospects, and “Long Shot Lolitas” for your long term projection types. Keep in mind not everyone has a “Spec On the Beach”. The D-Backs don’t.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Socrates Brito, OF | Age: 24 | ETA:2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/A+/RK
In what was supposed to be a breakout year for Brito, things went south very quickly. He struggled after breaking camp with the club, and ended up back down in AAA before the third week of the season had come to a close. He shuttled back and forth between AAA and Arizona for most of the season, was injured in his second stint in the majors, and missed a month. All this to say Brito’s season was tumultuous. He still posses an enticing power/speed profile, but his lack of on-base skills limits his base stealing upside. His power has increased throughout his minor league career, and prior to this year his strikeout rates had dropped. The swing and miss is not out of control though. Even throughout his struggles during his time in the majors, he only struck-out at a 23.7% rate. In 2017 I’d anticipate he once again sees a time share situation in the D-Backs outfield, but he offers the promise of a .270 average with 20 homers and 20 steals in a full-time gig.
Mitch Haniger, OF | Age: 25 | ETA:2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
The long shot has-been prospect acquired in the Gerardo Parra trade, had a major breakout in 2016, putting up arguably the best numbers in the minors. Unfortunately it’s tough to figure where he fits into a crowded Major League outfield situation. So, to pinpoint his exact playing time next year is difficult. With that said, if he wins a job out of camp he immediately becomes an interesting late round flier in deeper leagues, and one to add to your watch list early in 12 teamers. He’s always possessed elite bat speed, and raw power, which he finally tapped into this season. His issue has never been ability as much as health. After dealing with several injuries early in his career he finally had a full healthy season. More than likely a 4th outfielder, but he has hope for more.
Jamie Westbrook, 2B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
After a breakout 2015 in the California League, Westbrook struggled in 2016 upon promotion to AA Mobile of the Southern League. In his breakout campaign he flashed the kind of power that could make him a future fantasy star at the keystone, so the drop in ISO of 100+ points was a real let down. However he possesses the type of bat control that should keep his averages on the high side. He keeps his strikeout rates in the low teens, and has refined his approach. He possesses the ability to leg out some hits, and steal about 10-15 bags. Overall Westbrook could develop into a poor man’s Dustin Pedroia with a .270-.290 average, 15 homers, and 10 steals with weaker counting stats.
Anthony Banda, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
Banda is not only the very definition of a Floorbored pitcher, he’s also a good mix of the last two prospects profiled? I know you’re asking right now (not asking at all) “How so Ralph?” Well, he had a breakout 2015 much like Westbrook, but was also acquired in the Gerardo Parra deal alongside Haniger. Banda is a close to the majors back end of the rotation starter. I’d anticipate a ERA in the low 4’s, a K rate around 8, and a walk rate in the mid 3’s. Arizona isn’t an ideal location for any pitching prospects, but particularly depth guys like Banda. Mostly because fringe BORP guys need a home ballpark bump to be mixed league relevant. More your depth starter for deep leagues than a player to keep tabs on in re-draft.
Vicente Campos, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA/A+
Another back end of the rotation starter that could see some time in AZ this year. He was acquired from the Yankees in the Tyler Clippard trade at the deadline. He sits 94-97 with the fastball, mixes an average curve, and change and throws them all for strikes. His fantasy potential is limited by middling k upside, and his lack of workhorse makeup, having never thrown 100 innings in a season. While some see a potential mid-rotation type, I see a bullpen arm or Taxi-starter.
Alex Young, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA:2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A
A very safe college lefty taken out of TCU with the first pick in the second round of the 2015 draft. The D-Backs decided to really limit his innings after a long college season. As a result he only saw only 7 innings over 7 appearances in 2015. So in many ways 2016 was Young’s first year in proball. He mixes a plus fastball with a plus-plus wipeout slider, and a change. The slider is by far his best pitch, though it hasn’t yielded a ton of strikeouts. There in lies the rub for Young, on paper and in scouting reports he sounds exciting. The truth is he’s just a really boring potential streamer, or a solid middle reliever.
Peter O’Brien, OF | Age: 54 | ETA:2014 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Okay, so he’s neither 54 or with an ETA of -3 years, but it feels that way no? While the talk of 2015 into the 2016 pre-season was of O’Brien giving it another go as a catcher. He didn’t play an inning behind the plate last year, and instead split his time between the left field and first base. His power is as legit as it gets, but so are his swing and miss issues. He could probably carve out a niche as a DH, particularly if he can keep his batting average above .220. O’Brien is a name to keep an eye on if there’s a rash of injuries to D-Backs outfielders.
Taylor Clarke, RHP| Age: 23 | ETA:2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+/A
Was excellent as a reliever for Hillsboro in his pro debut, but was developed as a starter this season. He moved quickly through two levels of A ball, earning promotion to AA Mobile by late May. There he came back down to earth a bit, but the control remained good. Clarke keeps his walks at a minimum, and as a result has had solid ratios throughout his climb. The downside is his k upside took a major hit with the jump to AA. If he can recapture the 8ish K rate he had in A ball he’ll have some relevance in deeper leagues.
Jimmie Sherfy, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA/A+
Throughout his minor league career Sherfy has shown flashes of brilliance. However, he’s also shown great inconsistency and a true lack of control. Last year the control improved before really struggling at AAA Reno. He shows closer stuff with a high 90’s fastball with good action, and a slider with some bite. Should be in the Arizona bullpen this year. Could pop up onto the mixed league radar if he gets a shot at the closer job.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Anfernee Grier, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
The Diamondbacks first selection in the 2016 draft, Grier is a young athletic college outfielder with strong numbers in the SEC to back it up. A speed first prospect, Grier has developing power that he began to flash last season at Auburn. The early returns in proball weren’t great, but he’s got a lot of promise as a toolsy speed/power player.
Andy Yerzy, C | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
A bat first catching prospect from the great white north, Yerzy is a power hitter through and through. He doesn’t have a ton of hit tool, so a high average won’t be part of the package but his power lefty swing generates hard contact naturally.
Cody Reed, LHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A
Reed was cruising through the lower levels of the minors before hitting the Cal League. There, like many a pitching prospect, he faltered. Prior to that, he flashed double digit K rates, and good ratios. Might be a good rebound candidate to scoop in deeper dynasties.
Domingo Leyba, 2B/SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018| 2016 Level:
The switch-hitting middle infielder has a lot to offer fantasy owners with a nice tool set consisting of a good power/speed profile, and solid hit tool. Has the ability to hit double digit homers, and match that with a dozen or so steals. Looks like a player that will maintain a high batting average while getting on base at an above average clip. Mosty due to his low K rates, and high walk rates, that have improved throughout his pro career. Leyba is an interesting prospect for your deep dynasty leagues, where off the radar, higher floor players have good value.