The Arizona Diamondbacks have built a core around a young home grown superstar, in Paul Goldschmidt and supplemented that core with high end trades that landed them current Ace Pat Corbin and power bat, Mark Trumbo.
They still sit back in a tough NL West though and will rely heavily on the development of young future workhorse, Archie Bradley, who heads this 2014 list.
1. Archie Bradley, RHP 8/10/1992 H: 6’4″ W: 225 – Bradley was one of the biggest breakouts in the minor leagues last season, despite being a top prospect heading in. But the breakout needs to come with a grain of salt… for now.
One of our biggest concerns heading into last season was an elevated walk rate of 14.4%. He made some strides, but an 11.7% walk rate in AA was still not ideal. His stuff is there on the elite level side, with a mid 90s fastball that he has the frame to gear up a little higher. His curveball has become a near plus pitch and the changeup took a big stride last season and should be an average pitch by the time he reaches the majors.
Here was the Instinct last season:
Our Instinct: Expect him to move one level at a time with enough time to prove himself a starter with a fallback of a power RP as a no brainer if starting fails. But he is the one arm in this system that can be developed into a True Ace-type. ETA: 2016
While we missed on his two level jump, there is still some things for the big righty to prove to become the True Ace-type.
Our Instinct: Bradley was a key mistake in his ranking last season at #3, although it wasn’t for a lack of vision. Bradley did exactly what we were looking for, pounding the zone, gaining command of his changeup and just going after hitters. He had a dominant showing in High-A, albeit short, and showed just how high his potential really is. #1 in this system hands down now. He’ll need to fare better than he did in AA though before he’s ready to lock down a rotation spot. He’s close though. ETA: 2014
2. Braden Shipley, RHP Nevada 2/2/1992 H:6’3″ W:190 – In his debut, Shipley went 0-3 with a 4.99 ERA. Not a line that will “Wow” most. But under it all is a FIP closer to 3.00, a K rate of 22% and a walk rate of sub 9%. Not bad when you look at it that way.
Shipley was a late riser up the draft boards, putting himself on the map last season when the Nevada coaching staff gave him a shot on the mound full time. Shipley was recruited as a SS into college but his plus plus arm fits well on the mound. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and got to 96-97 with more regularity last year. The pitch that intrigues me enough to see him as a possible top prospect is his changeup. He has an athletic delivery and his changeup is far advanced for a pitcher who’s only had two full seasons on the mound.
Our Instinct: Despite having premium velocity and athleticism, it will take Shipley more time than other college pitchers because he still needs to refine his mechanics and command along with a power breaking ball. He hasn’t used the curveball enough and will need time at the lower levels to boost it to an average or better offering. But Shipley has the stuff to become a high level starter. Ace type, probably not, but a solid #2 starter is right there in his skill range.
Our Instinct: It’s almost a certainty that Shipley will start back at High-A and as he adjusts should move to Double-A by seasons end. He has the #2 upside with the frame really being what lacks that true workhorse Ace-type. He can be successful as a SP with his FB/CU combo, but the breaking ball development will be what determines him hitting that upside. ETA: 2015
3. Stryker Trahan, OF/C 4/25/1994 H: 6’1″ W: 215 – Trahan hit for excellent power in his second season. While he hit just .254, his K rate and walks were both solid as well. His AVG was dragged down by a low BABIP of .296. There should be some bounce there.
With 15 doubles, 2 triples and 10 HR in 236 AB, Trahan is showing his game changing ability with the bat.
The biggest question was if the Dbacks will allow him enough time to develop as a catcher. We predicted that the Royals would fast track Wil Myers in this same position and they did. But I believe that Trahan should remain behind the plate at least for his early seasons. However, the Diamondbacks have other thoughts and have officially moved Trahan to the outfield.
As we said in the pre draft for Trahan: Trahan can hit. His swing path is clean, his power though raw is evident and he’s an athlete that can be molded into a pro catcher. He’s dropping on draft boards because his catching ability is being questioned. He’s a high school senior. Catchers don’t tend to mature at age 17.
Our Instinct: He could be a breakout candidate in his first full season in 2014. The long term outlook for him has not changed. The bat is going to play and now we know that it won’t be as a catcher. ETA: 2016
4. Brandon Drury, 3B 8/21/1992 H:6’2″ W: 190 – Drury was a top prospect for the Braves heading into 2012 and he dropped a bomb of a season. He basically fell off of the map before being traded to the Dbacks in the Upton trade.
If he wasn’t the bounce back player of the 2013 season, he was certainly in the running.
Drury put up a .302 AVG with a league leading 51 doubles with 15 HR. The AVG is basically fully supported with a .340 FIP. So a little regression is possible but not much. He can project as a .280+ hitter with his K rate once again remaining excellent and his walk rate doubling from his terrible 2012. All positive moves.
Our Instinct: The big question for Drury before the tough 2012 was could he stick at 3B. That seems to be a glaring yes at this point. He projects as an above average defender with an average arm. His power could spike in 2014 and his IsoP could see a jump above the elite .200 level for the first time in his career. ETA: 2016
5. Chris Owings, SS 8/12/1991 H: 5’10″ W: 180 – Owings has been a back end of the 21 prospect for the past few years, going from 19 in 2012 to 12th in 2013. The biggest concern has always been how is he going to hit on a regular basis with such a high K rate.
I’m still not certain how he did it, but a cut of the K rate to 17% boosted Owings offensively to the tune of a .330 AVG with 31 doubles, 8 triples and 12 HR with 20 SB in 546 AAA ABs. Outstanding season. The .386 BABIP will no doubt drag his AVG down in 2014, but he made real strides with the bat and might be the one to displace Didi in 2014. He’s not a .300 hitter, but he’s doing a lot right now.
Our Instinct: He still has issues to overcome, but a defensive SS that can hit for above average power is always valuable. How much he matures as a hitter is still going to determine his future. Starting SS or fade away was the question in 2013. But now it’s more starting SS or major league utility guy. 10 HR / 10 SB with a .270 AVG and solid defense pretty much anywhere they stick him. ETA: 2014
6. Aaron Blair, RHP 5/26/1992 H:6’5″ W:220 – Blair was the Dbacks 2nd pick in 2013. He came in at #42 on the Instinct Pre Draft List:
Blair is a big SP with a low 90s fastball and plus changeup. His big frame is always going to be a plus, though he doesn’t tall and fall enough, coming from a low 3/4 slot. His changeup is his saving grace and will allow him to remain a SP going forward as he refines his breaking ball. Currently he uses a CB and SL, though he should settle into a slider as he develops.
Our Instinct: With his size and changeup, he has two very interesting tools. His fastball could be plus, but is currently above average. He will need some significant development time in order to refine that breaking ball, but the time could be well worth the wait.
Our Instinct: The key for Blair will be refining that breaking ball as his fastball/changeup are both plus pitches. Once the offering is brought to average or better he has the upside of an innings eating mid rotation starter. If a breaking ball clicks and he somehow finds a 3rd plus pitch things could escalate in his upside potential.
7. Justin Williams, 1B 8/20/1995 H:6’3″ W:215 – We had Williams pegged as a future 1B heading into the draft despite him being a High School SS. The Dbacks took him in the 2nd round and moved him to the OF. His inexperience showed but he could stick in the OF. Here was the pre draft Instinct:
Williams has some of the biggest power potential in the entire draft and he’s still growing. He is going to need to premium bat though because 1B is probably the position for him in the future. As one of the youngest players in the draft class, Williams will have plenty of time to refine his approach and see just how much power he can take advantage of.
Our Instinct: Williams doesn’t have the pure hitting ability to make a first round appearance, but with time and development he could be the best power hitter to come out of this draft. There’s a large range of floor to ceiling here with him though and a team will need to take that into consideration with high pick and the money it will take to ink him.
He didn’t have much trouble with the hit tool in the first taste of pro ball. He hit .351 with 19 XBH over three levels and 208 AB. Yes, there was a high BABIP and low walk rate. But it was his debut.
Our Instinct: Temper expectations to see that AVG regress some, but the power should remain on display as more doubles leave the yard. He’s one of the youngest hitters in the system but may also have the most power upside. If he can remain competent in the OF his value is even higher. We still expect him to either move to 1B or RF in the future. ETA: 2017
8. Jake Barrett, RHP 7/22/1991 H:6’4″ W:230 - The big righty spent the season in the bullpen again with a lot of success. He had 29 saves over A and AA play. His K rate of 27%+ was well matched with a sub 5% walk rate. His mid to high 90s fastball pairs with his power slider as a strikeout combo.
The mechanics are high effort, but they work for him and do not hinder his command. While his mechanics dictate his place outside the rotation, he fits well in the bullpen with his two pitch mix.
Our Instinct: He looks to be on a career course for Arizona’s pen and it could be as soon as 2014. He could challenge for the closers job in time.
9. Jose Martinez, RHP 4/14/1994 H:6’1″ W:160 - Not a great season for the power RHP in 2013. With a 4.03 ERA that was kind compared to his FIP and a 7/6 K to bb per 9, it wasn’t his numbers that make him stand out.
His frame still needs to develop and he’s at least 3 years away but this kid has electric stuff with a high 90s fastball a power curveball that is plus to double at times. His K rate was fine, but nothing else really came together for him.
Our Instinct: Just another power arm to watch develop. Still like his upside and I think he’s going to a breakout prospect for this organization this season. He was #18 on this list last season and should continue to rise and he matures and fills out. ETA: 2017
10. Jake Lamb, 3B 10/9/1990 H:6’3″ W:200 – Lamb tore up High-A in 2013 over 283 PA. He hit .303 with a .255 Isop and 13 HR. His K rate is high and he was old for High-A so we’ll see how he adjusts to AA in 2014. But a high walk rate and his power could prove to offset that high K rate.
Lamb is an above average defender at 3B with enough arm for the position and the power that you like to see play there. Sure, 2013 was in the CAL, but there was power to spare.
Our Instinct: Lamb will head to Double-A in 2014 and if he can keep the K rate in check he could be in line for a look as soon as next season. He was #21 on this list last year and did what we were looking for in his development. A .280 hitter with 20+ HR power and solid 3B defense. The power is there. ETA: 2015
11. Sergio Alcantara, SS 7/10/1996 H:5’10” W:150 – Alcantara was shifted to the US despite being very young and despite being one of the youngest in AZL play, he held his own. Most impressive is his advanced approach at the plate with 44 walks to 36 Ks in 169 AB.
His defense is already flashing plus and he has an outstanding arm.
His frame has lots of room to fill out and with maturity he should add some additional pop.
Our Instinct: Defensively he’s going to shine and his switch-hitting bat looks like it could have ceiling to it. If he can lift that BABIP into a decent realm his AVG should jump to the .275 range or better. The power will take time. Time is something he has plenty of since he won’t be 18 until mid season. ETA: 2017
12. Matt Stites, RHP 5/28/1990 H:5’11” W: 170 - Drafted by the Padres in 2011, Stites came over in the Kennedy deal. With a smaller frame his velocity is a little more rare. He hits mid 90s with solid leg drive and pairs it with a solid slider. It’s not a plus pitch yet, but shows some flashes.
He’s currently still working on refining a changeup to help him become a more complete pitcher and to battle lefties.
Our Instinct: Despite the plus velocity, Stites is a future power bullpen arm. He’s not as complete as Barrett, but still has closer upside albeit much lower odds of hitting that upside. ETA: 2014
13. Brad Keller, RHP 7/27/1995 H:6’5″ W:230 – Keller was drafted in the 8th round of the 2013 draft. A lesser known GA High School arm, Keller saw his high 80s velocity uptick into the low 90s and touching 96 late in the season.
He went 7-3 with a 2.44 ERA in his debut while striking out more than a batter per inning and flashing a slider and changeup.
Our Instinct: He’ll head back to the Pioneer league in 2014 and command will be a big a focus. He’s not going to be touted anywhere else yet, but he has the upside to be a special arm. Young enough to dream on the rotation and enough potential velocity to see success in the pen as well. With his frame and innings eating mid rotation starter looks like the upside. ETA: 2018
14. Daniel Palka, 1B 10/28/1991 H:6’2″ W:220 – The ACC home run leader and the RF for the Georgia Tech squad, Palka was selected in the 3rd round by the Dbacks and then was moved to 1B to start his pro career. Palka has a solid arm but lacks the obvious athleticism to stick in RF.
He has solid power hit .310 with 31 XBH in 252 AB over two levels in his debut. It was the lower levels and he is already a more advanced hitter than the competition he faced, but he did what he should have and raked.
Our Instinct: His position is going to make his bat be the defining force in his career. He’ll move to full season ball in 2014 and if he can keep the whiffs under control he could have a solid major league future despite position. ETA: 2016
15. Matt McPhearson, OF 4/18/1995 H:5’9″ W:170 – McPhearson was taken in the 4th round of the 2013 draft out of High School in Maryland. One of the fastest players available in the entire draft, he has the speed to be a game changer, but right now questions linger about his hitting ability.
He’s just out of High School and the left handed hitter will have plenty of work to do in order to get the most of his speed. But time is something he has a lot of.
Our Instinct: He struggled out of the gate as a pro but still stole 15 bags in 130 AB. There’s that speed. If he can refine his approach over time he could be inside the Top 10 by the time he reaches full season ball. ETA: 2018
16. Jamie Westbrook, 2B 6/18/1995 H:5’9″ W:175 – Westbrook was a tough sign away from Pepperdine since he was far from an athletics only prospect. He has a high intelligence level and it plays well in his approach.
Drafted in the 5th round, he blew through the AZL and made an appearance in the Pioneer League to close out the season. Overall he hit .281 with 21 XBH in 221 AB.
Drafted as a SS there is little chance he sticks there long term, potentially shifting to 2B or CF. He has good enough actions to handle the shift, but not the power expected of the position.
Our Instinct: Westbrook has the bat speed to hit double digit HRs and the approach to hit for AVG, but he doesn’t have elite size and his speed is only average at this point. The potential is there for more and for such a young player he seems to have a solid floor. ETA: 2017
17. Jimmie Sherfy, RHP 12/27/1991 H:5’10” W:160 – A stress fracture in his elbow caused him to slip down the draft boards where the Dbacks nabbed an elite level arm. Sherfy is a lock to be a bullpen arm, but a mid 90s fastball and a wipeout slider fit right in.
If his elbow holds up to the rigors of his first full season he could shoot up the ladder and into the bullpen for the Dbacks.
Our Instinct: He doesn’t have great size, so the odds are against a future long term closer which limits his upside, but the stuff is there for future success nonetheless. ETA: 2016
18. Michael Perez, C 8/7/1992 H: 5’11″ W: 180 – Perez was higher on this list and could bounce back this year. He had a lost season led by a broken hamate bone.
He’s got a power left handed bat, but still needs development with his pitch selection. A lost years puts him back behind the other catcher prospects in the high end of the system.
Our Instinct – The K rate remained dangerously high and this time it affected his power. His IsoP dipped to just .134 and his overall offensive game struggled. With Trahan at the top of the C ladder, Perez would have time to mature his approach, but 2013 was a disappointment with little room to have a repeat 2014, especially with Trahan off the C depth chart.
19. Felipe Perez, RHP 1/22/1994 H:6’3″ W:195 – While it wasn’t the season we were looking for from Perez, he is still a high end arm.
This 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander pitches in the low 90 mph range but has touched 93+ and throws two breaking balls — a 72 to 75 mph curveball and a 77 to 79 mph slider. His arm works well from a high, three-quarter slot
Our Instinct: The Young righty finished with a solid 4.55 ERA and 50 K to just 19 walks in 89 IP. We expect more dominance from power RHP. So there is no fireworks going off here with the numbers. But he’s still on the radar. ETA: 2016
20. Jose Herrera, C 2/24/1997 H:5’10” W:180 – Herrera is an advanced catcher for his age. His age? 17 heading into the 2014 season. Aaron Bentley had him at the #15 spot in our 2013 IFA Top 21:
The scouting dividing line on Herrera is whether you believe he will eventually hit for average. He’s a small guy at 5’9″, 180 pounds, but has really impressive power that his able to carry over into games. As a switch hitter, Herrera shows that power from both sides. Obviously, a switch-hitting catcher with above-average power is a valuable commodity. However, his contact issues, especially from the left side, are troubling. But he has the arm and footwork to remain behind the plate. So if he is able to hit enough, he could really help a team as a power-hitting catcher.
Our Instinct: He’s a long way off and needs plenty of development, especially as a catcher. But in time there is a lot of upside to uncover in Herrera and he could displace all but Trahan in these catcher ranks. He should stay in the US to make his debut. ETA: 2019
21. Daniel Gibson, LHP 10/16/1991 H:6’2″ W:220 - Gibson was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 draft out of Florida. The former Gator has the stuff and frame to move quickly through the RP ranks of the system and as a LHP could surpass some of the other RP talent in short time.
In 28 IP in his debut, he struck out 27 and walked 10 with a 0.64 ERA. With his frame and mid 90s fastball he has two pluses, the slider is an average pitch at best, but as a lefty is more than enough.
Our Instinct: He doesn’t have closer type stuff at this point and his command is an issue that needs to be addressed. With his funky delivery, the command may always come and go. He’ll move fast either way and has a high floor as a situational lefty. ETA: 2015
Players to watch
Brandon Jacobs OF, Fernery Ozuna 2B, Geo Parra RHP, Andrew Barbosa LHP, Zeke Spruill RHP, Nick Ahmed SS, Evan Marshall RHP, Chase Anderson RHP, Andrew Chafin LHP, Alfredo Marte OF, Andrew Velazquez SS, Anthony Meo RHP, Jacob Cordero OF
Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon as we release our top 21 prospects for each organization. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our in-season top 360 prospects, and we will be updating it throughout the season. Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at email@example.com. And while you’re at it head over to Facebook and join the Instinct page. You can also follow us on twitter: @BaseballInstinc.