Heading into spring training, it is doubtful that the Diamondbacks will have many prospects in line to make much of a fantasy impact in 2017. This is a result of having such a weak system and having a large number of their prospects in positions where they have plenty of guys already on the major league team.
The majority of the team’s higher level prospects are infielders and the major league roster already includes Chris Owings, Ketel Marte, Brandon Drury, Jake Lamb, Nick Ahmed, the newly signed Daniel Descalso and that Paul Goldschmidt guy. As such, Dawel Lugo, Domingo Leyba, Jack Reinheimer and Ildemaro Vargas are going to have a rough time finding any footing when it comes to grabbing some playing time.
As mentioned in my Diamondbacks Top 50 writeup, Vargas was a nice get out of Independent ball who had a solid breakout campaign in 2016. The switch-hitter showed great contact skills in both AA and AAA with 21 SB and more BB than K overall. He’s 25 so now is his time. He has utility guy skills, but needs to have a great spring to bump any of the previously mentioned guys off a roster spot.
There are some pitchers who have a clearer path to relevance, but even for them there has to be some shakeup in the present order of things.
Anthony Banda will not likely break camp with the team, but he could be in line for a call up in case of injury or if the team gets off to a slow start and decides to deal some arms. He got 13 starts at AAA last season and more than held his own and should be ready after just a bit more experience.
Jared Miller blew through four levels of the organization in 2016, finally hitting a small speed bump in 5 AAA appearances. He righted himself, however, in the Arizona Fall League, dominating there and regaining some luster. He also is not likely to begin in the bigs, but he has the ability to be a useful contributor in the second half.
The one pitcher most likely to gain a spot out of camp is Jimmy Sherfy. The 25 year old righty also pitched his way through the system in 2016, posting 30 Saves and more than 12 K/9. He did also have a bit of trouble at AAA with elevated BB and HR rates, but he seems most able to contribute from the start of the season. The problem is that he is not likely to have much high leverage work to start if he does happen to make the team.
Socrates Brito was a guy who could have had an inside track to the 4th outfield spot, but the team signed Gregor Blanco this winter and that seems to make Brito’s path a bit tougher as well.
The Diamondbacks did sign a very interesting minor league free agent in late January. Not good, but interesting. Willians Astudillo is 25, has not played above AA and is in his third organization in three years. The interesting part is that he is the ultimate contact hitter. In the last three seasons, he has 1225 AB and a TOTAL of 34/41 BB/K. It’s an amazing profile. He has no power to speak of and no speed at all, but there are reports that his defensive skills behind the plate have been improving quite a bit. He’s not a prospect, but in a system like Arizona’s it would be fun to root for a guy like that, who is so unorthodox, to get a chance at some point.
Not much to see here as far as prospects with a chance to make any fantasy impact, but we’ll check in again as spring training progresses to see if that changes.