The Diamondbacks have shipped out their most recent top picks, improving the MLB rotation but at the same time leaving the farm a little thin at the top. I would have definitely considered Dansby Swanson in the first tier, and Touki Toussaint would have been my top prospect among the more distant ETAs. What’s done is done, and there are still some solid if not elite pieces in this system. The shine wore off of Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley a bit, but they are still strong options and should contribute to the rotation shortly. Meanwhile Brandon Drury and Peter O’Brien could have some value with their bats. Cuban import Yasmany Tomas made his much anticipated debut in 2015, and while the 25-year-old did hit nine homers, fantasy owners would like to see more of his raw pop surface in his sophomore season.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Brandon Drury, 2B/3B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 567 PA, .303/.344/.412, 5 HR, 4 SB, 6% BB, 13% K
I’m a fan of Drury despite his lack of a big ceiling. The bat is solid, and there’s enough pop to get to 15-18 homers, especially in Arizona. A .280 batting average with 15 homers doesn’t do much in shallow leagues at the hot corner, but it’s just fine at the keystone. Drury has logged time at both positions and isn’t necessarily blocked at either spot. He’s still just 23, so there’s room for a little more power to develop as well.
Socrates Brito, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA/MLB
2015 Stats: 522 PA, .300/.339/.451, 9 HR, 20 SB, 6% BB, 16% K
Brito might end up having the most fantasy value in this group when it’s all said and done. He can hit for some power and he’s a plus runner, so it’s not hard to see him getting to 15 homers and 20+ steals. At the moment it’s hard to see where he’d find playing time though. He’s on the same side of a platoon as Peralta, who’s currently penciled in at left field, and Tomas and Pollock have the other two outfield positions filled. Still, we should see Brito this season and an injury or trade could open the door for him after he polishes up his game in Triple-A.
Peter O’Brien, C/OF | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA
2015 Stats: 534 PA, .284/.332/.551, 26 HR, 1 SB, 6% BB, 23% K
After bouncing around the outfield last season, the Diamondbacks seem committed to O’Brien as a catcher again. He was moved from the Yankees two years ago, and he’s always had big raw power (he hit 34 homers in 2014). The problem is finding him a defensive home and there are more than a few reports that question his bat. Since Welington Castillo is already handling primary catching duties, I could see the DBacks taking their time with developing O’Brien in AAA again. He works great as a second catcher with some upside, but I’m not sure I’d want him as my guy in one-catcher formats.
Archie Bradley, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 29.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
Bradley took a liner off his face, and the injury (along with a nasty 5.6 BB/9 in the majors) led to a disappointing big league debut. Certainly this is still a pitching prospect that should be owned in all formats, but it looks like there could be some hiccups along the way as he finds his control. The raw stuff (+FB/+CB) says there’s still a frontline ceiling, but the walk rates suggest maybe a #3 starter is a more realistic outlook.
Braden Shipley, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 156.2 IP, 3.50 ERA,3.2 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
The perception is that Shipley had a down year and the scouting reports aren’t as hot on him as they were before, but honestly his numbers weren’t that far off from what he did in 2014. The only thing that took a major turn for the worse was his strikeout rate that dipped from 9.1 to 6.8 K/9. Shipley’s relatively new to pitching, but he added another 30 innings to his workload from 2014 and the ceiling is still a #3 starter. He should see AAA this season and has a shot to get a cup of coffee later this year.
Gabby Guerrero, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 488 PA, .222/.258/.343, 7 HR, 11 SB, 5% BB, 22% K
Guerrero was a hot pickup after two impressive seasons in rookie ball and the Cal League, but Double-A proved to be a challenge. It’s tough to buy any prospect off of a big offensive season in High Desert, but there could also be a buy low opportunity when they let their owners down the following year as Guerrero has. He hit .300 in the AFL, and it could just be a matter of making adjustments to better pitching before his stats rebound. There’s pop, speed, and good enough defense to get a long look in an outfield corner. Plenty of upside here.
Jack Reinheimer, SS | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 547 PA, .270/.342/.363, 5 HR, 21 SB, 9% BB, 17% K
Reports on Reinheimer sound like one of these grinder middle infield types who hits for contact, steals bags, and just generally plays a little over his head. I don’t think he’ll have much value in shallow leagues, but he might be worth keeping on the radar in deeper formats if he sticks up the middle and carves out a utility role.
Yoan Lopez, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 54 IP, 4.17 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
Lopez struggled in his first season out of Cuba, mainly due to his lack of control. There’s a plus fastball and slider in his arsenal, and of course there’s still the chance he makes it in a rotation. But at this point he’s probably best reserved for deeper dynasty formats since there’s the real possibility he tops out as a back end starter or even a reliever.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Isan Diaz, MI | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 312 PA, .360/.436/.640, 13 HR, 12 SB, 11% BB, 21% K
Even though the ultimate result might not be more than a 15/15 player up the middle, Diaz is a guy whose ownership I admittedly checked in on in my dynasty leagues while researching this list. It’s hard to ignore the high walk rate, power, and speed in such a limited number of plate appearances, even at this level. It’s early, but I’m definitely putting him on my radar.
Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 76.2 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Huang’s numbers are pretty, and there’s reason to believe in them despite the low minors competition. Huang has above-average command and two plus pitches in his fastball and changeup. I’m not saying run out and grab him in all leagues, but if he repeats this success in Double-A, don’t be surprised if he blows up.
Marcus Wilson, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 249 PA, .258/.357/.338, 1 HR, 7 SB, 13% BB, 24% K
Wilson is toolsy, but it’s mostly projection at this point and he’s a risky investment in dynasty leagues. His best tools are his speed and defense, and you’re hoping that the rest of the center fielder’s game gels together as he advances through the minors and matures physically. He’s not a total waste of a deep league minors slot by any means, but I’d rather wait until Wilson has shown us a little more on the offensive side of the ball.
Colin Bray, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 560 PA, .308/.370/.410, 3 HR, 27 SB, 8% BB, 19% K
There’s not much to Bray’s game outside of his double-plus speed, so at best we’re looking at some top-of-the-order SAGNOF that contributes runs and steals to your fantasy lineup. I like that he’s a switch hitter with good plate discipline, but realistically he’s not a name you need to worry about yet in most leagues.
Cody Reed, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A(ss)
2015 Stats: 63.1 IP, 3.27 ERA, 3.0 BB/9, 10.2 K/9
I’ll wager that at least one dynasty player drafts the wrong Cody Reed this preseason. Solid control and a tasty strikeout rate make Reed interesting in fantasy, but there’s a long road ahead with just 90+ pro innings under his belt. There’s some reliever risk here like with most pitching prospects, and personally I’d see how he fares against some tougher competition before diving in.
Alex Young, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: Rk/A(ss)
2015 Stats: 7 IP, 1.29 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 7.7 K/9
The Diamondbacks selected Young 43rd overall in the 2015 draft, and being a college arm he should move pretty quickly through the low minors. Young is average across the board, but the southpaw should carve out a role as a BORP or high-leverage reliever.
Domingo Leyba, MI | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 562 PA, .237/.277/.309, 2 HR, 10 SB, 5% BB, 16% K
Sunday Leyba is a better hitter than he is a power or speed guy, and it’s hard to recommend him in anything but really deep dynasty leagues. At this point there doesn’t appear to be a high enough fantasy ceiling to warrant burning a hole in your roster for three years.