Top to bottom, the Arizona franchise had a solid year in 2017. Obviously only time will tell how far the big club will go, but 7 of the 10 clubs finished with records of .500 or better. Arizona, Reno, Kane County, Hillsboro and Missoula made the playoffs. When half of your clubs make the postseason, you’re doing something right. Arizona also had its fair share of standout seasons in the minors. Unfortunately, from a fantasy perspective, I don’t see a lot of high ceiling/standout potential that will be ready to contribute soon. The highest of the ceilings in the system are at the lower levels, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when the big club makes the post season. Let’s take a quick look at the organizational All-Stars for 2017, as well as the fantasy potential for 2018 and beyond.
C – Andy Yerzy
Age 19, Rookie: .298 BA, 13 HR, 45 RBI, .890 OPS
Yerzy, a second round pick in 2016, took a giant leap forward in his first full season barely missing a .300 AVG. at .298, while adding 13 home runs in 225 at bats for Missoula.
Fantasy Perspective: Yerzy has the potential to be a starting catcher in Arizona…eventually. With a likely ETA of 2020, Yerzy needs to continue to work on his defense while maintaining his pop to be a full time regular.
1B – Christian Walker
Age 26, Triple-A: .309 BA, 32 HR, 114 RBI, 5 SB, .980 OPS
Walker had one of the best minor league seasons for any team, position, or level in 2017 while winning the Pacific Coast League’s MVP award.
Fantasy Perspective: While nobody can argue with the numbers Walker put up in 2017, he did it in a hitter’s league while 26 years old. In three very limited opportunities, Walker has struggled in the majors. Since he is blocked, I don’t see much, if any, fantasy impact in the future.
2B – Eddie Hernandez
Age 18, DSL/AZL/RK: .324 BA, 6 HR, 50 RBI, 6 SB, .852 OPS
Eddie Hernandez may be the breakout star of the year for the Arizona franchise. Hernandez played across three levels in 2017, moving from the Dominican Summer League, to earning a cup of coffee with Missoula in the Pioneer League. And all Hernandez did was hit.
Fantasy Perspective: Hernandez is a long way off. Playing all of 2017 at 18 years old, he is likely at least 3, if not 4, years away from Major League impact. Hernandez is also undersized at 5’9”, 160 pounds. He will need to prove that the bat can continue to grow in order to become a full time regular.
3B- Joey Rose
Age 19, Rookie: .312 BA, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB, .907 OPS
In 2017, Rose showed the bat that lead to Arizona drafting him out of high school in the fifth round in 2016. In just under 200 at bats, Rose blasted 9 home runs and carried a .312/.364/.543 triple slash. Since 2017 was his first full season, I would look for Rose to open up 2018 in full season ball.
Fantasy Perspective: Rose showed the ability to allow his bat to carry him through the Arizona system in 2017. He’s young, so he has a long way to even deep dynasty formats.
SS – Ketel Marte
Age 23, Triple-A: .338 BA, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 7 SB, .905 OPS
Marte showed why so many in Seattle loved him, when, despite a demotion to Triple-A after the trade to Arizona, Marte ripped the cover off the ball. This earned him a promotion to Arizona, possibly for good, in the second half of the regular season.
Fantasy Perspective: Marte does a lot of things well. Finding his way back to the majors, and hitting the ball well when he got there, should have gone a long way to securing a starting role in 2018. Marte is no longer MiLB Prospect/Rookie eligible (879 career MLB AB) so keep that in mind if you’re in dynasty leagues.
LF –Marcus Wilson
Age 20, Single A: .295 BA, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 15 SB, .829 OPS
Flying out of the gate in April, Wilson set himself up to have a huge breakout season in 2017. While he cooled off after April, Wilson still showed the power speed combination that lead Arizona to take him in the Competitive Balance round in 2014.
Fantasy Perspective: Wilson spent all year in A ball, so he is at least 2 years away from seeing Arizona, but should he continue to improve as they think he will. He’s one to watch in deeper formats.
CF – Eduardo Diaz
Age 20, Rookie: .312 BA, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 11 SB, .867 OPS
The 20 year old showed plenty of promise in his first full season in the U.S. With a triple slash of .312/.357/.510, 30 extra base hits, and 11 steals, Diaz shows the ability to be an offensive power in a few years.
Fantasy Perspective: Diaz has a long way to go. I think Arizona will keep him moving, hopefully seeing full season ball next year. However, he’s a bit off the fantasy radar at this point.
RF – Oswaldo Arcia
Age 26, Triple-A: .320 BA, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 1.028 OPS
While the PCL may have helped the numbers, the Reno bats had a great 2017. Arcia was no exception. Triple slashing .320/.404/.623 and 50+ extra base hits, Arcia had a fantastic year. Much like Walker though, failing to earn a call up to the big club speaks volumes about where Arizona sees his future.
Fantasy Perspective: I loved when Arizona signed Arcia (I put him at the back end of my draft prep lists), but putting up the numbers Arcia did and not seeing the majors, tells me he is likely viewed as a AAAA player. Also, Arcia is no longer MiLB Prospect/Rookie eligible with 983 career MLB AB.
Age 22, A/A+: 136 IP, 12-3, 1.39 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 12 starts at A and 12 starts at A+.
Age 24, AA/AAA: 145 IP, 12-9, 3.35 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 21 starts at AA and 6 starts at AAA.
Age 21, A/A+: 136.1 IP, 8-8, 3.17 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 8 starts at A and 17 starts at A+.
Age 23, A-/A/A+/AAA: 103.1 IP, 9-4, 2.87 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 0.8 BB/9, 8 starts at A-, 7 starts at A, then 1 start at each A+ and AAA.
Age 21, A+: 139.1 IP, 11-8, 3.55 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 27 starts at A+.
Any conversation about Arizona’s pitching needs to start with Jon Duplantier. In 24 starts, Duplantier limited opposing teams to 21 earned runs all season, while strking out almost 11 batters per 9 innings. It doesn’t end there for Arizona though. The A and high A levels saw Cody Reed, Connor Grey, and Jose Almonte all pass through those levels this season, putting up great numbers and showing great growth as starting pitchers. Clarke is progressing quickly toward a shot at the rotation in Arizona.
Fantasy Perspective: Most of the starting pitchers that had all star years are a little ways away. Duplantier, in my opinion, has front of the rotation upside. Clarke, Reed, Grey and Almonte are all more mid-rotation at the top of their upside, however, having a good amount of them in the system is incredibly important. Watch out for Taylor Clarke to get a shot at the rotation this spring.
Non-Closer Relief Pitcher – Colin Poche
Age 23, A/A+: 50.1 IP, 3-1, 1.25 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 14.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9
Poche, a rare case that turned down the Orioles in the 5th round in 2012, only to turn around and be drafted later in the 14th round of the 2016 draft. He is showing a significant amount of ability by allowing only 7 earned runs in 50.1 innings in his first full season, while striking out 14.5 batters per 9 innings.
Fantasy Perspective: Relievers can move quickly through the minor leagues. Splitting his season between Single A and High A, Poche could start 2018 in Double A and maybe be an option for the Arizona bullpen by September 2018.
Closer – Jimmie Sherfy
Age 25, AAA: 49 IP, 2-1, 3.12 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 20 SV
When Sherfy was promoted to Triple-A in 2016, it appeared it may be a quick stop on the way to Arizona. However, a touch of wildness slowed the train and lead to Sherfy starting the 2017 season in Triple-A again. After a great year in Reno, saving 20 games, Sherfy was promoted to Arizona with great results.
Fantasy Perspective: Sherfy should start the year in a high leverage role in the Arizona pen next year; possibly winning the closer job out of spring training.
Article featured image of Jon Duplantier – courtesy Diamondbacks Twitter
Matt Hammerling covers the Arizona Diamondbacks prospects for Prospects1500. Hailing from Southeastern Wisconsin, he plays in 20-30 fantasy baseball leagues a year including multiple dynasty leagues. Besides fantasy baseball, he enjoys tailgating, growing his beard, getting into bands 8 years after they're cool, and hanging out with his dog Monk. Follow him on Twitter at @AZdbProspector.