Arizona Diamondbacks: Minor League Update

After quite a few years of being regarded as a bottom tier minor league prospect system, it seems that the Arizona Diamondbacks are slowly building up a fairly deep bunch of prospects. Below I have created four tiers of the Diamondbacks best and most interesting prospects to follow in the next few years. Let’s take a look at how far all the prospects are from a potential promotion and how their summer has fared.

***Stats are updated as of Saturday, August 18th

MLB Ready

Jimmie Sherfy

At the age of 26, Sherfy has very little to prove at this point with a great 2018 in Triple-A. The organizational depth of relief pitchers just doesn’t help him out. Jake Barrett, Silvino Bracho, Braden Shipley, and even Neftali Feliz who is starting games now all have major league experience but are stuck in Triple-A Reno. Sherfy should get his chance again in less than two weeks when the roster expands to 40.

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Socrates Brito

Brito is much like Sherfy, but he hasn’t clicked in Chase Field yet. He has seen parts of three seasons now in the big leagues, and he is turning 26 on September 6. I am assuming AJ Pollock will be lost in free agency, so Brito will have every chance in Spring Training to win a starting spot in the outfield. Brito is currently enjoying his best pro season, so maybe we see him in September as well.

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Christian Walker

Sitting behind Paul Goldschmidt ain’t easy, but he continues to take advantage of his opportunities in Triple-A though. It makes you think if any other teams are interested in giving him a shot at first base…

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Matt Koch

Remember Koch had twelve starts for the big league club early in the season and threw pretty well. Koch has really struggled since returning from injury in the middle of this summer though, and his last three starts in Triple-A have just been brutal. He has potentially pitched his way out of getting spot starts in September.

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Braden Shipley

A rough start to the year as a starter hasn’t changed much since a switch to the bullpen. It seems like Shipley is seriously starting to lose favor a bit in the organization. With an opponents batting average against of .318 and a 1.73 WHIP, it is hard to argue with the change to the bullpen and loss of favor.

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Close to Ready

Taylor Widener

This trade, Widener and Souza Jr. for Banda and Drury, is quietly looking like an absolute steal. The injury to Banda is sad, but he was struggling in Triple-A the years prior. Drury has also been injured as well, but the outfield depth was more important than the infield depth at the time of the trade.

Widener is straight shoving in Double-A though, and I wouldn’t be completely shocked if he gets a nod for a start in September. Say what you want about him maybe not being ready, but no one is pitching better than this guy in the organization.

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Jon Duplantier

Duplantier has fought the injury bug this year a bit, but he has still shown the flashes he did last year. His innings are down because of injury, and the workload might be the reason we don’t see him until 2019 at the earliest.

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Kevin Cron

The Phoenix native is enjoying a second break out year where he is hitting for average and power. In 2016, the 25-year-old hit 25 homers while only hitting .222 in Double-A. Cron is in the same situation as Christian Walker as there is just nowhere to put him in the big league lineup.

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Yoan Lopez

Back to back good summers has people talking after the 25-year-old struggled in his first two pro seasons. His strikeout numbers have been great with 137 K’s in 86.1 innings across Advanced-A and Double-A the past two years. This is a guy that could be really exciting out of the bullpen.

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Taylor Clarke

Clarke was thought to have a slight opportunity to sneak into the rotation out of Spring Training, but he just hasn’t fully grasped the opportunity. He seems like the next man up in case of injury for the big league squad, but Widener is making it known he is ready with a great season and a great August so far.

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Few Years

Daulton Varsho

The athletic left-handed swinging catcher came out to a scorching hot start but has slowed a bit. His 17 stolen bases stick out to me which shows that he will always provide offensive value even if he doesn’t stick behind the plate. This was a great first summer for the 68th pick from 2017.

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Jasrado Chisholm

Widely considered one of our top three prospects, Chisholm has shown some great power in 2018 which is considered one of his weaker tools. His health has been his biggest issue thus far, and a fully healthy 2018 has shown he could be the real deal. 123 strikeouts is quite a bit though and that will be something interesting to watch in 2019.

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Jake McCarthy

It is early, but McCarthy has impressed with good bat to ball skills and a knack for stealing bags. His contact skills combined with speed and defensive awareness will give him a shot to move up quicker than anyone else in this category.

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Pavin Smith

This has to be a disappointing year for Smith who just doesn’t have the power numbers or batting average he probably wants. His power will be a work in progress as he sees more and more minor league pitching. A rough April put him in a quite a hole to start the year as he hit .156 in 77 at-bats. Each month, he has gotten better and better, and his approach is still very advanced as he almost has as many walks as strikeouts for a second straight year.

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Drew Ellis

Ellis has had an up and down year with a really good May and June but with a big skid in July. He is in the top 5 for doubles and top 15 in homers in the California League though. Thus far in August, Ellis has heated up and was a member of the MLB Pipeline Team of the Week just this past week by hitting three homers and moving his batting average up ten points.

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Young Guns

Alek Thomas

Thomas couldn’t imagine a better start to his pro career after turning away TCU’s football and baseball scholarship in June. He has already been promoted, and he is hitting the snot out of the ball. He isn’t very big at just 5’11”, 175 pounds, but he is really athletic and has a knack for tracking down balls in center field. Remember this name D-Backs fans, he has a chance to be something special.

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Matt Tabor

A high schooler drafted in the third round just last year is starting to produce some good outings this summer. While he is getting touched up a bit with 49 hits given up, the D-Backs front office still has to feel good about him being so young and pitching well through his first full year in the organization.

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Kristian Robinson

The top international signing is enjoying a solid first year on American turf as a 17-year-old. His strikeout numbers are a little high, but nothing to be concerned about with a young guy in his first pro ball action. He is 6’3″, 190 pounds and has a chance to be a special player with no glaring weakness in his game. For Robinson, it is all about getting reps and as many at-bats as possible.

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Andy Yerzy

In his second full year, his power numbers are down and his strikeouts are up, but he is showing he can hit for average. His raw power was his calling card coming out of the draft, but the rest of his game was going to have to really develop. He has struggled down the stretch of this season as he was hitting as high as .340 through June and July. I personally love his left-handed swing, but he is still a long ways away.

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Blaze Alexander

Alexander was a must signing after missing on our first round pick this year, and he played like a first rounder thus far. Bat to ball skills have been there, and he has shown some good power. The South Carolina commit has already jumped a level after tearing up the Arizona Rookie League. This is a guy that could surprise many and jump way up top prospects boards in the next two years if he keeps the summer’s momentum going.

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Sleepers

Tra Holmes

This guy might be the most athletic player in the entire system with big-time speed and good defensive instincts. His bat is going to have to catch up to his other tools, but he had a very good month with the Hillsboro Hops before getting promoted. Kane County has been a struggle for him in A ball, but it was good to see the 22-year-old, ex-NAIA prospect have a good start to the summer.

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Jorge Barrosa

In the same signing class as Kristian Robinson, Barrosa has made a name for himself this summer with his speed. It doesn’t matter where you are playing, 37 stolen bases is still shocking in 52 games. He is entering his first week in the Arizona Rookie League right now, and it will be interesting to see how the 17-year-old adjusts. He is a little guy standing at just 5’9″, 165 pounds, but he has a lot of time to fill out.

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Matt Mercer

One of my favorite guys on here has had a solid start to his pro career with 21 strikeouts to just 3 walks. His junior year wasn’t what he necessarily wanted with 42 walks in 88.2 innings, but the velocity is there along with the chance to strike out a lot of batters. His K rate went from 6.01 per 9 his sophomore year to 8.73 his junior year, so there is a lot to like although his ERA went up almost an entire point. I like that they are starting him right now, but he could be a big power arm out of the bullpen if starting doesn’t pan out. The development of his slider/curveball will make or break him.

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Buddy Kennedy

The fifth-round pick from 2017 has some blood family ties in baseball from his grandfather Don Money who played 16 years in the MLB and was a four-time All-Star. More importantly, this guy keeps on hitting and improving since his first summer last year. His slugging is up 60 points and he has gone from 47 strikeouts to just 29 this summer. This will be a fun player to follow as he matures through our minor league system.

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Photo from Baseball Factory

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