Top 10 Prospects (2016): Arizona Diamondbacks: Pitchers Head Up A Questionable System

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Diamondbacks arguably dealt away their top two prospects (Dansby Swanson & Aaron Blair) in one fell swoop, acquiring Shelby Miller as they made a win now declaration.  It was a bold move, though it could ultimately prove to have been a bit misguided.  There is still talent on the horizon, though it certainly doesn’t appear to be quite as appealing.  Let’s take a look at what’s left in a system full of questions:

1) Braden Shipley – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2016

He would’ve been #3, at best, entering the preseason but that was before the team jettisoned Swanson & Blair. Shipley struggled generating strikeouts at Double-A last season, with a 6.78 K/9, which is obviously a concern. He’s shown more coming up through the minors, however, and with his stuff it’s easy to envision him rediscovering that mark. If he can continue to pair it with enough control (3.22 BB/9) and eńough groundballs (0.96 GO/AO), he should produce solid, though unspectacular, numbers in the Majors.

2) Archie Bradley – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

It’s easy to argue that Bradley’s upside is greater than Shipley’s, but so is his potential for failure (or, at least, to be shifted to the bullpen). Bradley simply continues to struggle finding the strike zone, with a 4.7 BB/9 in the minors and a 5.55 mark in his eight starts in the Majors last season. If he can’t consistently throw strikes, will the other numbers matter?

He’s also struggled with injuries in recent seasons, including to his elbow (2014) and shoulder (2015), which adds to the concerns. He still throws hard and is only 23-years old, so there is plenty of time for him to develop, but the future is getting a little bit cloudier.

3) Peter O’Brien – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

Obviously his numbers would translate better had he been able to stick behind the plate, but regardless of where he plays his power is going to carry him. He hit 26 HR in 490 AB last season after hitting 34 the year before. The biggest question is going to be his approach at the plate and if he can make enough contact:

  • Double-A (Yankees/2014) – 26.2%
  • Triple-A (Diamondbacks/2015) – 23.2%

Obviously the Trple-A mark is encouraging, but we are going to need to see more. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops, but with power at a premium around the league there is little question that a team will find an opportunity for him (if it’s not in Arizona).

4) Yoan Lopez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B-
ETA – 2016

Signed out of Cuba, Lopez struggled in his 45.0 innings at Double-A last season with 32 K vs. 24 BB. He also mustered just a 0.66 GO/AO, making it that much harder to get excited. There is upside, as evidenced by the $8 million signing bonus the team handed him, and his three pitch mix gives hope. Maybe his struggles were due more to adjustment than anything, so he could take a significant step forward in 2016.

5) Tyler Wagner – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B-
ETA – Already Arrived

Acquired as part of the Jean Segura trade, Wagner didn’t show much in the way of strikeouts over 152.1 IP at Double-A last season (7.09 K/9) but showed control (2.66 BB/9) and elite groundball stuff (2.70 GO/AO).  The lack of strikeouts certainly isn’t going to make him a sexy option, but with those other marks he has the potential to really produce.  He could make an immediate impact this season, ahead of the pitchers ranked above him, and certainly is a name to watch.

The Rest:

6) Taylor Clark – Right-Handed Pitcher
7) Brandon Drury – Second Baseman/Third Baseman
8) Alex Young – Left-Handed Pitcher
9) Gabriel Guerrero – Outfielder
10) Stryker Trahan – Catcher

Sources –, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Grading System (still in development):
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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