Arizona’s system has been somewhat vilified of late and they haven’t helped themselves with some of the deals they have made. But there are still quite a few Diamondbacks prospects worth keeping an eye on.
That said, though there are not a lot of future stars on this list, it is possible to see a fair number of future MLB contributors. From a fantasy perspective, success comes from having good depth to help round out your roster and/or to fill the holes created by the inevitable injuries. A lot of prospects here would be nice depth pieces on fantasy rosters. It is a system deep in potentially useful players right now, though a lot must go right in the development process for the younger guys, and the organization has to figure out how to best utilize everyone. If the Diamondbacks’ front office can get its act together (yes, I know how big an if that is) Arizona can be pretty good pretty quickly.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster
1. Anthony Banda, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 08/10/1993)
Banda pitched most of 2016 at age 22 so his handling of hitters in the pitcher friendly AA Southern League was not a complete surprise. It was the jump to the AAA PCL that showed his true ability. Good K rates, plenty of ground balls and fewer than 1 HR/9, even in the PCL. Many lefties are later bloomers so he may not even have peaked yet.
2. Jared Miller, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 08/21/1993)
Miller was moved to the bullpen in his first full pro season in 2016 and the move conjured thoughts of another big lefty reliever named Miller who you may be familiar with from his postseason work with the Indians. The Diamondbacks’ Miller finished the season in AAA and then dominated the Arizona Fall League. He likely spends some time back in AAA but he seems close to pitching high leverage innings in the majors.
3. Domingo Leyba, SS/2B
Age: 21 (DOB 09/11/1995)
Acquired from the Tigers as part of the complex deal that sent Didi Gregorious to the Yankees, the switch-hitting Leyba has shown a sound array of skills. He puts the ball in play and has shown a bit of power and speed, though not enough to put him on the star track. He also has made all the plays at both SS and 2B. Despite spending all of 2016 at age 20, he had success at both High-A and AA.
4. Dawel Lugo, 3B
Age: 22 (DOB 12/31/1994)
Signed by the Blue Jays and traded to Arizona in a deal for Cliff Pennington, Lugo has made a lot of progress in the Diamondbacks’ organization. Still a bit of a free swinger, he has managed to put the ball in play with only 56 K in 488 AB in 2016. His developing power should make his lack of a true defensive home less of an issue, though he needs to take a few more walks to reach his full potential.
5. Victor Reyes, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 10/05/1994)
Reyes has an intriguing mix of present ability and room to grow. The only thing holding him back from a higher ranking here is the inability to develop game power. Even in the Cal League, he could generate only six HR, though he does have some pop in the gaps leading to his having more triples than doubles in 2016. He hits for average, gets on base, steals bases and plays solid defense. The power can still come, but even without it he is poised to be a useful MLB contributor in a season or two.
6. Luis Alejandro Basabe, 2B
Age: 20 (DOB 08/26/1996)
Alejandro is generally regarded as the lesser of the Basabe twins who were both, ironically, traded by the Red Sox in 2016. Arizona’s Basabe experienced a significant drop in production after his midseason trade, but still spent the entire 2016 season in full season ball as a 19-year-old and his overall numbers were still quite gaudy, slashing a combined .272/.381/.408. He has enough ability across the board to make a fantasy impact, but it won’t be before 2019.
7. Jose Almonte, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 09/08/1995)
Almonte came to the Arizona organization in the same deal that brought Basabe (from Boston for Andrew Bailey) and he continued his solid performance even after the trade, giving up fewer than a hit per inning and posting a combined 8.6 K/9. How good he can ultimately be will depend on the development of his command and the improvement in his secondary offerings.
8. Jack Reinheimer, 2B/SS
Age: 24 (DOB 07/19/1992)
The kind of player who produces above his tools, Reinheimer is another player the organization added through trade. He has done nothing but impress since. He has a little speed, good on base skills and plays well defensively. Like so many on this list, he is not headed for stardom, but he can be a good contributor if he finds the right role.
9. Socrates Brito, OF
Age: 24 (DOB 09/06/1992)
Just barely still qualifying for rookie status with 128 major league AB, Brito shows interesting skills that have failed to translate into any great success at the highest levels. His minor league numbers have been steady, but his ability to steal bases successfully took a downturn in 2016 (9SB/6CS). Brito must do a lot of work at improving his walk rate and hitting more ground balls if he is going to maximize his skills.
10. Cody Reed, LHP
Age: 20 (DOB 06/07/1996)
In just his second full season since being drafted in the second round out of high school in 2014, Reed pitched well in the Midwest League, but struggled on being promoted to the Cal League. A lot of that can be attributed to his failure thus far to consistently make hitters expand the zone. He needs to develop his secondaries and improve his command, but he still has the potential to be a MLB starter in the 3/4 range.
11. Ildemaro Vargas, 2B/SS
Age: 25 (DOB 07/16/1991)
A great story, Vargas was signed out of Independent ball near the start of 2015. He has rewarded the organization with exceptional contact ability which should translate to being a useful utility type at the highest level, quite possibly this season. His 21 SB in 22 attempts in 2016 speaks to his ability to make at least some fantasy impact.
12. Marcus Wilson, OF
Age: 20 (DOB 08/15/1996)
Chosen in the competitive balance round of the 2014 draft, Wilson was a toolsy project. He was pushed a little harder this season, finishing in full season ball in his age 19 season. The results remain mixed, but the improvement is obvious. He continues to work on his K rate and his selectivity as well as translating his speed to base stealing ability. Continued improvement and steady progress through the organization could make Wilson a fantasy standout by 2020.
13. Henry Castillo, 2B
Age: 22 (DOB 12/08/1994)
Having hit everywhere he’s been since joining the organization, Castillo spent 2016 in the Cal League. He took a bit of a step backward, becoming a bit more of a free swinger. He did hit more HR, but it came at a cost to his average and subsequent OBP. If he can get back to his more disciplined ways in the jump to AA, he will join the herd of middle infield talent who can make MLB/fantasy contributions in the next few seasons.
14. Sergio Alcantara, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 07/10/1996)
An outstanding defensive SS, Alcantara does not strike out a lot and will take a walk. The problem to date is that he has no present power and little base stealing speed. He will play in the majors at some point because of his defense and he should hit enough to not hurt you much, but he needs to develop more offense to be truly fantasy relevant.
15. Jamie Westbrook, 2B
Age: 21 (DOB 06/18/1995)
Yet another middle infielder, Westbrook can hit a fastball and he does not strike out a lot. He has just enough power and just enough speed to be a helpful fantasy contributor, but he needs to work on being more selective to take advantage of those abilities. His success has come against older competition so there is definitely some adaptability to his game. Though the perception is that he took a step back in 2016, that can be attributed to his move from the Cal to the Southern League.
16. Fernery Ozuna, 3B
Age: 21 (DOB 11/09/1995)
The switch-hitting Ozuna took a big step forward in 2016, handling the Midwest League at age 20 while hitting for average and adding a bit of power to his game. He also has stolen 37 bases in the last two seasons, furthering the thought that he can help in fantasy. A visit to the Cal League in 2017 will be telling for Ozuna and could mean the difference between a future useful fantasy contributor and a guy who falls off the prospect map.
17. Jasraldo Chisholm, SS
Age: 18 (DOB 02/01/1998)
A lefty-hitting shortstop, Chisholm has the foundation for all the tools necessary to be a fantasy star. Playing in the Pioneer League at age 18 in 2016, he hit for a bit of power, flashed some decent speed and made most of the plays at SS. Like most young players, it’s all just potential right now. He will work on being more selective at the plate and we’ll check back on him in a couple of seasons.
18. Ryan January, C
Age: 19 (DOB 05/27/1997)
A left-handed hitting catcher with power, January can be a fantasy star, but he is a long way from realizing that possibility. His pro debut was a good start, but he needs to improve his pitch selection at the plate and his defensive skills behind it. If he does not stick at catcher, he will be much less valuable in fantasy circles.
19. Anfernee Grier, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 10/13/1995)
Taken in the 2016 draft, Grier is all projection at this point. His swing is a bit long for the pro ranks and he swings at most everything he sees, walking just three times in 75 AB in short-season ball. He has a lot of work to do, both mentally and mechanically, in order to get to where his overall tools can take him. At age 21, he is going to have to handle full season ball in 2017. Keep an eye on the results.
20. Jimmy Sherfy, RHP
Age: 25 (DOB 12/27/1991)
A closer his last two seasons at Oregon, Sherfy has been used in high leverage situations by the Diamondbacks since being drafted in 2013. Success has been a bit inconsistent, due mostly to a lack of command. This was especially true in the second half of 2016 when he got his first taste of AAA. In 23.1 IP, he walked 13 and gave up 5 long balls. The good news is that he still allowed fewer hits than IP and had a K rate of 10.41/9. If he can get his feet back under him at the level to start 2017, he could see the back end of Arizona’s bullpen later in the season. He has the fastball/slider mix it takes to get the job done there.
21. Josh Taylor, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 03/02/1993)
Signed by the Phillies as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Taylor came to Arizona in a deal that sent international bonus pool money back to Philadelphia. He is another of the seemingly endless procession of big, hard-throwing arms in the Arizona system. He has three useful pitches including a mid-90s fastball, but he needs to refine his command to be more than a middle reliever.
22. Tyler Mark, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 10/18/1994)
An NAIA closer, Mark has been used as a starter and in relief as a pro. He has enough fastball velocity at 94-95 MPH and a possible plus slider, but the organization needs to decide where they see him so that he can work on becoming more consistent with his approach. As a 22 year old with only 24.2 IP in full season ball, this will be a big year in his development.
23. Joey Krehbiel, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 12/20/1992)
Drafted by the Angels in 2011, Krehbiel has had good success with the Diamondbacks’ organization, though not in especially high leverage situations overall. He pitched well enough in AA in 2016 and continued that in the Arizona Fall League. Like most pitchers in his situation, he is a good bit of improved command away from an important role on a major league or fantasy roster.
24. Taylor Clarke, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 05/13/1993)
Ranked higher in most other places, Clarke does not look to me like a guy who will make significant contributions to your fantasy roster. A low-90s fastball and a tendency toward more fly balls that ground balls does not look like a recipe for success in Arizona. He pitched the second half of 2016 at AA and saw a fairly significant weakening in almost every peripheral there.
25. Jose King, SS
Age: 17 (DOB 01/16/1999)
If you asked me for a sleeper in the system, this is the name I’d give you. A lot will depend on whether he adds strength and power as he ages. Players of his size have not always been given props in the scouting community, at least before Jose Altuve. While Altuve is likely a one of a kind, King can be more like the Padres’ Luis Urias if all goes well. The good news is that King has significantly more speed than Urias and is also a bit better defensively. It’s a long way from where he is to Chase Field (or whatever it might be called by then) and how he adjusts his way up the ladder will be the key. He already knows how to control the zone and put the ball in play on the ground to take advantage of his speed.
26. Mark Karaviotis, SS
Age: 21 (DOB 10/12/1995)
Drafted in 2016 out of Oregon, the Diamondbacks saw enough in Karaviotis to give him $100,000 as a 19th round pick. The young shortstop rewarded their confidence with a nice pro debut. He showed excellent bat to ball skills, producing a .344/.473/.466 slash line in short-season ball at age 20. Though he may not stick at SS, his bat could play at several other spots if he continues to hit as he advances.
27. Gabriel Maciel, OF
Age: 18 (DOB 01/10/1999)
Speed is the calling card of this young Brazilian. With no power to speak of, he will have to control the strike zone better. The Diamondbacks thought enough of his work in the Arizona League to give him some time in the Northwest League in 2016. He was not overmatched there as a 17 year old, but he walked only 5 times in 79 AB. The good news is that he stole 11 bases in 12 tries. He is good enough in CF that the speed will get a chance to shine if he shows any kind of on base success.
28. Francis Christy, C
Age: 21 (DOB 10/01/1995)
Another left-handed hitting catcher, Christy has a chance to be at least a backup on the highest level. He caught 21 of 58 potential base stealers in 2016 while providing approximately league average offense. Useful catchers are fantasy gold without posting huge numbers. Christy can be that useful catcher in a couple of years.
29. Jon Duplantier, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 07/11/1994)
A third round pick in the 2016 draft, Duplantier is another guy who is ranked higher on a lot of other lists. I have questions about his ability to stay healthy that will need to be answered before I can move him up. He missed the 2015 season for Rice with a should injury. Oh, and did I mention that he pitched for Rice? The baseball landscape is littered with Rice pitchers taken in the first five rounds or so who could not stay healthy/have success on the pro level. It didn’t help that Duplantier pitched only one inning in his pro debut before feeling some elbow discomfort.
30. Curtis Taylor, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 07/25/1995)
Another 2016 draftee, Taylor is a big right hander with just two current usable pitches. The fastball is mid-to-upper nineties, though, and the slider has moments of nastiness. He may start at first in order to gain experience, having pitched in Canada in his college years, but he seems a definite reliever down the road. A future as a useful setup guy would seem a best case scenario.
31. Alex Young, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/09/1993)
With an average fastball that may play up due to a slider that shows plus, Young has the basic tools to be a decent starter. He just doesn’t yet miss enough bats to project as a fantasy star. He posted just a 7.05 K/9 in 2016 across two levels.
32. Sam McWilliams, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 09/04/1995)
There may be more potential in McWilliams than the rest of the pitchers at this level, but right now he can’t miss enough bats to be anything more than the reincarnation of Steve Trachsel at best.
33. Justin Donatella, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 09/16/1994)
Another in the seeming endless string of Diamondbacks’ pitching prospects who stand 6’5” or more, Donatella has three average pitches. He does not hurt himself with free passes, but he does not miss enough bats either. He is another back end starter if all goes well. That’s great for the Diamondbacks but not so good for your fantasy team.
34. Brad Keller, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 07/27/1995)
Keller has had something of an up and down career to this point and that is likely his role going forward. He’s an org arm who will eventually spend time on the Reno-Phoenix shuttle as a middle reliever.
35. Mack Lemieux, LHP
Age: 20 (DOB 09/06/1996)
With a solid repertoire, but an inability to command it, Lemieux is all possibility at this point. The only thing consistent about his 2016 was its inconsistency.
36. Tommy Eveld, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB: 12/30/1993)
A pitcher to keep an eye on, Eveld is another 6’5” guy. The difference with him is that his arm is pretty fresh, having not played in high school and starting college as a football QB. With the fresh arm comes the inevitable lack of refinement. If he takes to instruction, he has a chance to move into some high leverage innings down the road.
37. Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/26/1993)
Signed out of Taiwan for $450,000 in 2014, Huang was a guy for whom the Diamondback’s had high hopes. After a strong US debut in 2015, Huang took a huge step back last season. A seeming lack of durability is as big a concern as his lack of success.
38. Anfernee Benitez, LHP
Age: 21 (DOB 07/24/1995)
There are things to like about Benitez, but the fact that he has yet to spend any of his five pro seasons in a full season league is not one of them.
39. Kevin Ginkel, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 03/24/1994)
A 2016 draftee out of Arizona, Ginkel needs to move quickly to be relevant, but he did some decent work in his pro debut.
40. Jordan Watson, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/14/1993)
Another in a line of 2016 draftees who showed at least something in his debut, Watson is a lefty who carried over his NAIA leading K rate to pro ball.
41. Colin Poche, LHP
Age: 22 (DOB 01/17/1994)
A lefty who could start or relieve, Poche is a soft-tosser who should handle lower level hitters with his command and pitchability. Check back in on him when he gets to AA/AAA.
42. Matt Koch, RHP
Age: 26 (DOB 11/02/1990)
Koch’s best outcome is a 5/6 starter or middle reliever. He won’t walk many hitters, but he won’t strike out many either. He did improve in AAA last season so there is (mild) hope.
43. Jesus Munoz, OF
Age: 18 (DOB 12/19/1998)
With an athletic body and some usable speed, Munoz is another CF candidate who is a long way from contributing.
44. Carlos Hernandez, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 04/26/1994)
Hernandez’ first try at full season ball was not bad, though he had to pitch around a 5.08 BB/9 performance.
45. Joey Rose, 3B
Age: 18 (DOB 01/20/1998)
It took $400,000 to sign Rose away from his Oklahoma State commitment. So far it does not look like money well spent, but…
46. Ryan Burr, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 05/28/1994)
At this point in any system, everything is just hope. Burr has not yet exhausted all avenues of hope. He improved his ground ball rate and did not allow a HR in 2016.
47. Jose Herrera, C
Age: 19 (DOB 02/24/1997)
A switch-hitter who is having trouble staying healthy, Herrera is quite good when he plays. He threw out 8 of 14 potential base stealers in 2016. He also hit 5 HR in 137 AB. If he can stay on the field, he could be much higher next season.
48. Daniel Gibson, LHP
Age: 25 (DOB 10/16/1991)
Too many walks. Very little chance to be anything other than a LOOGY. Hey, sometimes they mix in a save.
49. Andy Yerzy, C
Age: 18 (DOB 07/05/1998)
The Diamondbacks spent a second round pick and a $1.2M bonus on this Canadian catcher. He failed to hit and there is some question whether he can remain a catcher. At least he should be able to remain Canadian.
50. Eudy Ramos, 3B
Age: 20 (DOB 02/19/1996)
Though he showed remarkable improvement in 2016, Ramos still is not a real prospect. New found power came with a precipitous drop in BB and a lot of K. Still young enough to be useful if there is more/bigger improvement.
This is the kind of system, with almost no top level talent, that does not lend itself to unanimity of ranking. You and others likely have a lot of differences, some by a wide margin. I’m happy to answer your questions and give you further thoughts in the comments.
I live at the beach in Palm Coast, FL with my wife. I'm an old retired guy whose main job is hosting trivia shows at golf courses for which I get free golf at several upscale golf courses. When it rains and I can't play golf, I read about baseball and try to find the next underrated prospect.