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The 2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: After peaking as the #3 book among all baseball books on Amazon last year, my new book, The 2016 Prospect Digest Handbook, is on sale! Check it out here!

 

And for those wondering what CALs are, here’s an article on the Comparison And Likeness program I designed.

 

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1. Archie Bradley, RHP                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                             

Born: 08/10/92 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Franklin Morales, Jarred Cosart,

Zach Davies, Dan Cortes, Sean Gallagher

Height: 6-4 Weight: 230 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 20 A+ 28.7 2 0 1.26 2.48 13.50 3.14 37.4% 8.7% 0.31 89.0%
2013 20 AA 123.3 12 5 1.97 3.04 8.68 4.31 23.5% 11.7% 0.36 81.2%
2014 21 R 4.0 0 0 4.50 1.78 13.50 2.25 31.6% 5.3% 0.00 66.7%
2014 21 AA 54.7 2 3 4.12 4.23 7.57 5.93 19.2% 15.0% 0.33 70.9%
2014 21 AAA 24.3 1 4 5.18 3.78 8.51 4.44 20.4% 10.6% 0.00 66.7%
2015 22 R 4.0 0 0 0.00 3.82 13.50 6.75 33.3% 16.7% 0.00 100.0%
2015 22 A+ 4.0 0 0 4.50 8.78 13.50 4.50 35.3% 11.8% 4.50 45.5%
2015 22 AAA 21.3 1 0 2.95 4.26 8.44 2.11 21.7% 5.4% 1.27 89.6%

Background: At one point in the not-so-distant past the only question swirling about Bradley’s future was when – not if – he develops into a legitimate front-of-the-rotation caliber big league arm. But after two seasons of injury and misalignment the question that’s jumped to the forefront of most minds is: Can Archie Bradley stay healthy enough to realize his potential? After missing much of his 2014 season due to injury – an elbow issue that limited him to just 83.0 innings, which includes his rehab work in the Arizona Summer League – Bradley broke camp with Arizona and made eight starts, though they weren’t easy by any stretch of the means. The former seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft – taken between Anthony Rendon and Francisco Lindor, by the way – took a line drive to face off the bat of Rockies All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Fortunately enough, Bradley would miss just a couple of week before returning to the Diamondbacks’ rotation – briefly. Following another four starts, Bradley was shut down with shoulder inflammation. He would make one more late-June start with Reno in the PCL before being shut down until late August.

Projection: The talent’s clearly there, even through another tumultuous injury-ravaged campaign. Bradley had his power arsenal on full display during his eight-game stint – a low- to mid-90s fastball, a snapdragon Uncle Charlie, and a mid-80s changeup. But just as he has throughout the duration of his professional career, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander battled some control issues when he was up in The Show; he posted a disappointing 23-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35.2 innings.

One final note: CAL’s not overly impressed by the hard-throwing hurler, tying him to a pair of disappointing top prospects in Franklin Morales and Jarred Cosart, and a career big league reliever in Sean Gallagher.

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015

 

2. Jamie Westbrook, 2B                                                
Born: 06/18/95 Age: 21 Bats: R Top CALs: Jorge Polanco, Jose Altuve,

Jonathan Schoop, Rougned Odor, Corban Joseph

Height: 5-9 Weight: 170 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ ISO
2013 18 R 177 8 8 1 0.292 0.373 0.468 9.6% 11.9% 133 0.175
2014 19 A 561 27 4 8 0.259 0.314 0.375 6.8% 17.5% 98 0.116
2015 20 A+ 524 33 4 17 0.319 0.357 0.510 4.6% 13.2% 132 0.192

Background: Just to put things into perspective a bit, consider this: among all stateside minor league second basemen Westbrook’s 132 Weighted Runs Created Plus total tied for the second best showing. And that total’s been topped by only five other second basemen with 400+ plate appearances in a season before the age of 21: Dilson Herrera, Rougned Odor, Mookie Betts, Eddie Rosario, and Joe Panik . The former fifth round pick out of Basha High School in 2013, Westbrook had a strong debut as he spent time in the Arizona Summer and Pioneer Leagues, hitting .281/.356/.430 with 11 doubles, eight triples, a pair of homeruns, and four stolen bases. He followed that up with a bit of downturn in production as the club aggressively pushed him up to full-season ball, hitting .259/.314/.375 with a bunch of extra-base firepower (27 doubles, four triples, eight homeruns). But Westbrook showed important progress in the second half of the year as he batted .285/.344/.425 from July through the end of the year.

And that momentum carried over into 2016 – in a big way.

As one of the youngest everyday players in the California League, Westbrook slugged a robust .319/.357/.510 with 33 doubles, four triples, 17 homeruns and 14 stolen bases in 18 attempts. And just a little more perspective: he ranked seventh in the league in doubles, 10th in homeruns, and eighth in Weighted Runs Created Plus.

Projection: Now here’s the thing, the one, single solitary thing keeping Westbrook from leaping up the overwhelming majority of prospect lists: he stands just 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. I don’t give a damn. Hell, I don’t give a shit either. And how’s this for bold: Jamie Westbrook is one of the top second base prospects in all the minors. And how’s this for bold part II: I would take Westbrook over any other prospect in the Diamondbacks system not named Archie Bradley.

So let’s break him down, shall we? First off, he has surprising, above-average pop for the position – regardless of his short frame. A little bit of speed, but more of the sneaky variety and some defensive chops at the keystone. His lone issue is his subpar patience at the plate. But with an offensive premium at the position, he’ll be just fine.

As for his CALs, well, I’ll just list them here (again): Jorge Polanco, Jose Altuve, Jonathan Schoop, Rougned Odor, and Corban Joseph. That’s one MVP candidate (Altuve), one perennial All-Star candidate (Rougned Odor), another top prospect (Jorge Polanco), and a guy who debuted in the big leagues at the age of 21.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

3. Braden Shipley, RHP                                               
Born: 02/02/92 Age: 24 Bats: R Top CALs: Andrew Gagnon, Williams Perez,

Raymar Diaz, Ronnie Martinez, Mark Peterson

Height: 6-2 Weight: 185 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 21 A- 19.0 0 2 7.58 2.58 11.37 2.84 25.8% 6.5% 0.47 53.4%
2013 21 A 20.7 0 1 2.61 4.35 6.97 3.48 19.5% 9.8% 0.87 84.2%
2014 22 A 45.7 4 2 3.74 2.83 8.08 2.17 21.7% 5.8% 0.20 64.2%
2014 22 A+ 60.3 2 4 4.03 4.39 10.14 3.13 27.0% 8.3% 1.04 70.5%
2014 22 AA 20.0 1 2 3.60 4.84 8.10 4.50 22.0% 12.2% 1.35 80.8%
2015 23 AA 156.7 9 11 3.50 3.55 6.78 3.22 17.8% 8.5% 0.40 70.6%

Background: One of my favorite collegiate prospects in the 2013 college-heavy draft class. So much so, in fact, I ranked the hard-throwing former position player as fourth best college prospect, trailing only the mighty triumvirate of Kris Bryant, Mark Appel, and Jon Gray. And for the first two seasons in professional ball Shipley looked every bit the budding #2/#3-type arm. He hung a 40-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39.2 innings between the Northwest and Midwest Leagues during his debut. He followed that up by making stops at three different levels two years ago, throwing 126.0 innings with 127 strikeouts and 42 free passes with South Bend, Visalia, and Mobile. Last season, though, Shipley’s strikeout rate tumbled to a career low 6.8% as he spent the entirety of the year pitching for Mobile.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote prior to the 2013 draft:

“[A]s a former infielder Shipley is likely more athletic than most hurlers and the wear-and-tear on his right arm isn’t as great either. He looks like a decent bet to develop into a mid rotation-type guy with a peak as a good #2. He could have a higher ceiling than any college pitcher not named Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel .”

As noted his strikeout rate dropped to a career low last season, but Shipley showed progress over the course of the season – particularly in the second half as he posted a 63-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 2.49 ERA over his final 79.2 innings of work.  And while he may never average more than 7.5 punch outs per nine innings, he does show a strong feel for the zone and generates a lot of action on the ground.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2016

 

4. Cody Reed, LHP                                              
Born: 06/07/96 Age: 20 Bats: R Top CALs: Enyel De Los Santos, Felix Jorge,

Jonathan Coreea, Joshua Blanco, Keury Mella

Height: 6-3 Weight: 245 Throws: L
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 18 R 12.0 0 1 2.25 4.53 10.50 5.25 31.8% 15.9% 0.75 81.4%
2014 18 R 20.7 0 1 2.18 2.68 11.32 2.18 30.2% 5.8% 0.00 72.0%
2015 19 A- 63.3 5 4 3.27 3.40 10.23 2.98 27.8% 8.1% 0.71 66.7%

Background: As tall as he is wide, the former 2014 second round pick looked at home in the Northwest League last season – he tossed 63.1 innings with 72 punch outs, 21 walks, and a solid 3.40 FIP. For his year-plus career, Reed has averaged 10.5 K and just 3.1 BB per nine innings.

Projection: Standing a solid 6-foot-3 and a potyly 245 pounds, Reed finished the year with the third most strikeouts in the Northwest League last season, trailing only the Cubs’ Oscar De La Cruz and then-21-year-old rotation-mate Carlos Hernandez – despite throwing far less innings. And for a stretch beginning in late June, the big southpaw looked like one of the finest amateur hurlers on the planet – he posted a 42-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35.1 innings in five starts. The main concern, obviously, is his love for food. If he doesn’t eat himself out of the league, a la Calvin Pickering, Reed looks like a potential mid-rotation arm.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2018

 

5. Alex Young, LHP                                                  
Born: 09/09/93 Age: 22 Bats: L Top CALs: Michael Kirkman, Earl Oakes,

Nicholas Pasquale, Austin Chambliss, Will Savage

Height: 6-2 Weight: 205 Throws: L
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 21 R 1.0 0 0 0.00 1.82 9.00 0.00 33.3% 0.0% 0.00 100.0%
2015 21 A- 6.0 0 0 1.50 2.44 7.50 1.50 22.7% 4.6% 0.00 83.3%

Background: After back-to-back years of dominance working out of the Horned Frogs’ bullpen – he tallied a 77-to-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 83.2 innings of work – Young made a successful move into the rotation, eventually becoming the school’s top arm. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound southpaw struck out 103, walked 22, and posted a 2.22 ERA in 97.1 innings last season. The lone – glaring – red flag on an otherwise impressive junior campaign: he coughed up 10 gopher balls. Following his selection as the first pick in the second round last June, 43rd overall, Arizona allowed Young just to dip his toes in the professional waters as he tossed another seven innings, six of them coming in the Northwest League. He finished with six strikeouts and one walk.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote prior to the draft last June:

“A solid mid- to back-of-the-rotation caliber starting pitcher with less risk [because of] his lack of wear-and-tear on his left arm courtesy of spending a couple years in the bullpen. Young will miss some bats and do a solid job limiting free passes. He’s been a bit homer-prone this season, so that’ll bear watching. For comps, think Marco Gonzales or Chi Chi Gonzalez.”

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

6. Yoan Lopez, RHP                                       
Born: 01/02/93 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Fabio Castillo, Chris Mobley,

Ben Hornbeck, Trevor Miller, Clario Perez

Height: 6-3 Weight: 185 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 22 R 6.0 1 0 0.00 1.82 9.00 0.00 31.6% 0.0% 0.00 100.0%
2015 22 AA 48.0 1 6 4.69 4.55 6.00 4.50 15.6% 11.7% 0.75 66.8%

Background: At that time of the signing in mid-January last year Lopez’s $8.27 million bonus was a record for the largest given to an international amateur. After spending parts of three seasons in the Cuban National Series pitching for the Isla de la Juventud, Lopez made the leap straight into the Southern League last season – and looked a bit underprepared. He posted a 32-to-24 strikeout-to-walk in 48.0 innings of work.

Projection: We still don’t have a whole lot of stateside information on the hard-throwing right-hander out of Cuba. But what we do have correlates well enough with his work as a teenager in the Cuban National Series, namely his inability to harness his power arsenal. He walked 11.7% of the batters he faced before defecting and followed that up by walking 11.7% of the batters he faced with Mobile in Class AA last season. He’s still a massive wild card, but it’s important to note that last season would have just been his senior year in a stateside college.

Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2017

 

7. Silvino Bracho, RHP                                         
Born: 07/17/92 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Dan Barnes, Jonathan Ortiz,

Tucker Healy, Mat Latos, Christian Friedrich

Height: 5-10 Weight: 190 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 20 R 26.3 0 2 1.71 2.53 12.99 1.03 36.2% 2.9% 0.68 86.2%
2014 21 A 43.3 3 2 2.08 1.85 14.54 1.66 42.9% 4.9% 0.62 81.2%
2015 22 A+ 6.0 0 0 0.00 -0.39 21.00 1.50 70.0% 5.0% 0.00 100.0%
2015 22 AA 44.7 2 1 1.81 2.21 11.89 1.81 33.3% 5.1% 0.60 85.4%

Background: The Venezuelan-born right-hander opened the season with just 43.1 innings above rookie ball and finished it with 12.1 – dominant – innings in Arizona. In between, Bracho, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound right-hander, torched the California League by fanning 14 in just six innings of work and blew through the Southern League by posting a 73-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 44.2 innings. Bracho finished his minor league season – likely career – by fanning a remarkable 37% and walking a smidgeon over 5% of the total batters he faced. And make no mistake: this type of production isn’t an aberration either. He’s fanned 211 and walked just 26 of the 573 minor league bats he’s faced in his career.

Projection: His fastball isn’t what you’d expect, on either end of the spectrum. He’s not particularly overpowering, but isn’t a typical soft-tosser relying purely on spotting a mediocre heater. Instead, it rests in the low-90s and complements with a low-80s slider. He has the chance to spend the next decade-plus – barring injury – working in high, high-leverage situations.    

Ceiling: 1.5 – to 2.0-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015

 

8. Socrates Brito, OF                                               
Born: 09/06/92 Age: 23 Bats: L Top CALs: Lee Haydel, Jake Cave,

Juan Portes, Peter Bourjos, Rudy Guillen

Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 Throws: L
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 20 A 566 24 9 2 0.264 0.313 0.356 0.092 6.5% 21.9% 89
2014 21 A+ 561 30 5 10 0.293 0.339 0.429 0.135 6.4% 19.4% 99
2015 22 AA 522 17 15 9 0.300 0.339 0.451 0.151 5.6% 16.1% 122
2015 22 MLB 34 3 1 0 0.303 0.324 0.455 0.152 2.9% 20.6% 106

Background: A quiet, unheralded prospect signed out of the Dominican Republic, Brito continued his ascension up through the low and mid levels of the minor leagues – and one that culminated in an 18-game stint in Arizona – with another solid offensive showing. After filling up the stat sheet without truly dominating High Class A – he batted .293/.339/.429 with 30 doubles, five triples, 10 homeruns, and 38 stolen bases – Brito easily had his finest professional season to date. He batted .300/.339/.451 with 17 doubles, a career best 15 triples, nine homeruns, and 20 stolen bases (in 26 attempts). His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by 22%.

Projection: A member of the Bird Doggin’ It section in last year’s book, Brito had a massive coming out party in 2015 – one that likely convinced the front office to include Ender Inciarte in the trade debacle with the Braves. Brito offers up a surprisingly well-rounded offensive toolkit: power, speed, and hit tool. His walk rate will ultimately eat into some of his overall value. But if he plays decent defense he should have no issues developing into a starter on a non-contending team.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015

 

9. Brandon Drury, 2B/3B                                  
Born: 08/21/92 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs:  Colin Moran, Cheslor Cuthbert,

Jefry Marte, Blake Dewitt, Adrian Cardenas

Height: 6-1 Weight: 215 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 20 A 583 51 4 15 0.302 0.362 0.500 0.198 8.1% 15.8% 138
2014 21 A+ 478 35 1 19 0.300 0.366 0.519 0.219 8.6% 15.9% 128
2014 21 AA 116 7 0 4 0.295 0.345 0.476 0.181 6.0% 16.4% 128
2015 22 AA 291 14 1 3 0.278 0.306 0.370 0.092 3.8% 14.1% 89
2015 22 AAA 276 26 0 2 0.331 0.384 0.458 0.127 7.6% 12.7% 127
2015 22 MLB 59 3 0 2 0.214 0.254 0.375 0.161 3.4% 13.6% 66

Background: So it all comes down to Brandon Drury, the former 2010 13th round pick out of Grants Pass High School. The stocky 6-foot-1 third baseman is the club’s sole remaining hope for an impact player received in the Justin Upton/Chris Johnson deal with Atlanta. The ironic part: Drury was viewed as a throw-in wild card of sorts at the time of the trade. Anyway, after finishing the 2014 season with a 29-game stint with Mobile, Drury found himself back in the Southern League to begin last season. And let’s just say he got off to a disappointing start. He batted .250/.282/.338 in his first 85 trips to the plate, didn’t slug his first homerun until the second of May, and his second dinger didn’t come until a June 14th game against the Jackson Generals. Arizona would push Drury up to Reno a couple weeks later – he would bat .331/.384/.458 with the Aces – and then eventually promote him to the big league club for help down the stretch.

Projection: If you hear sirens in the distance sounding off that’s the red flags popping up all over Drury’s prospect status. After slowly developing power – his homerun output moved from 3 to 8 to 6 to 15 to 23 through his five previous seasons – it all but dried up last season. He posted the lowest slugging percentage, .412, and Isolated Power, .109, since his struggles in the Sally at the age of 19. I remarked in last year’s book that (A) CAL remained down on the young third baseman as it compared him to only one viable big leaguer in Lonnie Chisenhall and (B) his only standout tool is his power, which, coincidentally, all but abandoned him. Well, CAL continues to be hard on Drury, this time linking him to Colin Moran, Cheslor Cuthbert, Jefry Marte, Blake DeWitt, and Adrian Cardenas. But (B), the power decline might be explained by his switching to second base. The 2016 season is as important as any for Drury – if the power comes back, so does his prospect status. If not, well…

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: N/A

 

10. Brad Keller, RHP                           
Born: 07/27/95 Age: 20 Bats: R Top CALs: Andrew Potter, Felix Doubront

Dallas Newton, Victor Gonzalez, Matthew Tenuta

Height: 6-5 Weight: 230 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 17 R 6.0 0 0 4.50 4.76 6.00 6.00 14.3% 14.3% 0.00 70.0%
2013 17 R 56.7 7 3 2.22 3.80 9.69 4.13 25.0% 10.7% 0.32 75.5%
2014 18 R 33.7 1 4 6.95 6.44 8.02 4.81 18.1% 10.8% 1.60 63.9%
2014 18 R 31.3 4 0 2.30 4.73 5.74 2.59 15.8% 7.1% 0.57 86.7%
2014 18 A- 6.0 1 0 0.00 1.65 12.00 1.50 40.0% 5.0% 0.00 100.0%
2015 19 A 142.0 8 9 2.60 3.13 6.91 2.35 18.6% 6.3% 0.19 69.1%

Background: One of the more overlooked prospects in the system, perhaps because of his slow movement through the minors’ lowest levels, but consider the following: among all qualified pitchers in either Low Class A league, Keller’s 3.13 FIP ranked 11th overall and second among all teenage arms, trailing only Cleveland’s Justus Sheffield. Keller, an eighth round pick out of Flowery Branch High School in 2013, doubled his previous career innings high as he tossed 142.0 innings with Kane Country last season. He fanned 109, walked just 37, and posted a 2.60 ERA. For his three-year professional career Keller is averaging 7.6 punch outs and just 3.1 walks per nine innings.

Projection: With the build of an innings eater, Keller, who stands 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, has been a quiet, consistent performer throughout his career. His control, which flashed below-average during his debut, has been trending in the right direction since as he’s posted walk rates of 4.3 BB/9 to 3.5 BB/9 to a career best 2.3 BB/9 last season. He has the look of a solid #3/#4-type arm and could begin to move quickly within the next 12 months.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

 

Author’s Note: All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com.



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.