2014 Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Arizona Diamondbacks

Ralph Freso

The prospect staff at Fake Teams continues their fantasy prospect rankings and system reviews with an in-depth look at the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The prospect staff here at Fake Teams will be taking an in-depth look at each major league organization, including our top 10 fantasy prospects, an overview of the organization's minor league system as a whole and potential opportunities for playing time in 2014. Our goal is to provide you with more information as you prepare for minor league drafts for dynasty and keeper leagues, as well as look at players that could potentially be worth watching during the spring, as they could be in line to potentially help your fantasy team. We will be reviewing two teams per week until we are through all 30 teams, and you can see the schedule of when your favorite team will be reviewed below.

System Schedule

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Baltimore

Chicago

Houston

Atlanta

Chicago

Arizona
(Today)

Boston

Cleveland

Los Angeles

Miami

Cincinnati

Colorado
(1/13)

New York

Detroit

Oakland

New York

Milwaukee

Los Angeles
(1/16)

Tampa Bay

Kansas City

Seattle

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

San Diego
(1/20)

Toronto

Minnesota

Texas

Washington

St. Louis

San Francisco
(1/23)

Organizational Overview
By Matt Mattingly(@mattmattingly81)

The Diamondbacks endured their share of ups and downs during the 2013 season. The team was able to hold their own and compete in the National League West until the Los Angeles Dodgers got hot and ran away with the division. After finishing the season in 2nd place in the NL West with a record of 81-81, the D-Backs are looking to make the proper adjustments that will take this team to the next level.

The Diamondbacks have many of their core pieces back in place for the 2014 season. First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished 2nd in votes for the National League MVP award in 2013. Gerardo Parra and A.J. Pollock stepped up big in the outfield when injuries hit last year, and will become full-time starters after the departures of Adam Eaton and Jason Kubel. Patrick Corbin came out of nowhere last year to lead the pitching staff and earn an All-Star selection. Martin Prado was a valuable utility man that proved his worth all over the diamond, and Brad Ziegler took over as the closer to end the year giving the D-Backs a decent option at the back end of the bullpen. Many key pieces will be back in place in 2014 to go along with the organization's newest acquisitions.

Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has been busy this off-season, trying to improve the team's roster for the 2014 season. Towers started by shipping Heath Bell and cash to Tampa for minor leaguers Justin Choate and Brandon Jacobs. Next, the D-Backs acquired Mark Trumbo in a 3-way deal with the White Sox and Angels in exchange for Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs. Then the team shipped out third base prospect Matt Davidson in another deal with the White Sox for closer Addison Reed. Management also recently signed Eric Chavez and Dan Hudson to contracts for the 2014 season.

Recent trades will have some of the team's former top prospects wearing new uniforms in 2014. The team traded away three of its most talented youngsters in the organization in Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs, and Matt Davidson in order to become more competitive in 2014. The team still has one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball in Archie Bradley to go with 2013 Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP Chris Owings, both of whom could contribute in the majors next season. Expectations will be higher in 2014 as the team will need to compete for the playoffs in order to justify trading away so much of the organization's young talent this off-season.

2013 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time prior to September 1st of this year.

A.J. Pollock (at bats), Didi Gregorius (at bats), Adam Eaton (at bats, traded), Will Harris (innings)

Major League Opportunities in 2014
By Matt Mattingly(@mattmattingly81)

After the team addressed many of their needs via trades this off-season, there aren't many current openings for jobs on the major league roster. The entire starting infield is back from last year, with the only possible opening being for Chris Owings at shortstop if he can manage to beat out Didi Gregorius for the starting role. If Gregorius hangs onto his previous role as starting SS, expect Owings to open the year back in Triple-A.

When the D-Backs traded for Mark Trumbo, they finished assembling their outfield for next season. After their 2013 performances, Gerardo Parra and A.J. Pollock will be given larger roles in 2014. Cody Ross is also still under contract and gives the team a quality option as a 4th outfielder and part-time starter. Eric Chavez was also signed to play 3B when Martin Prado is moved to the outfield or second base.

The pitching staff is set to open the season with Corbin, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, and Randall Delgado. A stellar spring training might earn Archie Bradley consideration as the 5th starter over Delgado, but he will most likely be destined for a mid-season call-up instead. Although the top five rotation spots are currently occupied, this staff is far from durable and could have opportunities present themselves throughout the year. The bullpen depth remains a strong point as well with plenty of options that have late inning experience.

Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
By Brian Creagh(@briancreagh)

Our top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are based upon standard 5x5 fantasy baseball leagues, with a balancing of ceiling and present value. While we are having discussions regarding these lists as a collective group, the top 10 fantasy prospect rankings are finalized by the writer listed above. Players are no longer considered prospects once they exceed either 130 at bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days of service time in the Majors prior to September 1st.

20130714_jla_ae5_022.0
Photo Credit: Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

#1 Archie Bradley (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

14

0

1.84

1.21

162

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

152

0.36

0.99

11.1%

26.1%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A+, AA

One of only a few pitchers in the minor leagues with number one starter potential, Archie Bradley has ripped through the minor leagues and is close to ready for the challenge of the major leagues. Bradley looks the part of a frontline starter, standing 6'4" and 225 lbs. The right-hander has only 54 starts under his belt but has little left to prove in the minor leagues. Across 290 innings pitched, Bradley has a 2.76 ERA, 318 Ks, and 153 walks; but more importantly his numbers have been even better as he's moved up the system.

Bradley has an over-the-top delivery that looks very easy and allows him to get great downward plane on his pitches. The repertoire consists of a fastball, curveball, and a changeup; each could end up being 60-grade or better offerings. The fastball sits in the low-90's and after showing improved command in 2013, it is a legitimate plus-plus pitch. Bradley's curveball features sharp 12 to 6 break and is a future bat-misser. He also throws a changeup that lags behind the other two pitches, but has also flashed the potential to be a go-to pitch. When everything comes together for Bradley, he has the ability to put up strikeout numbers better than he has put up in any stop in his minor league career. The only knock on Bradley is that his command can get shaky from times resulting in less than spectacular walk rates.

The year ahead for Bradley will likely begin in AAA. It shouldn't be a long stop and Bradley will likely find his way into the Arizona rotation some time in 2014. If he gets the job, he's automatically a top 75 SP and rosterable in every format. The Arizona rotation is deep, so it will take a few injuries or a truly dominant performance from Bradley to get the call up so I don't recommend taking a flier on Bradley in re-draft leagues. He's a Top 15 prospect in the minor leagues and should be drafted as such in dynasty/keeper formats.

20131120_mjr_su5_097.0
Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

#2 Chris Owings (SS)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.326

109

12

86

22

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

636

0.359

0.473

4.4%

17.1%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

22

R/R

On 40 Man Roster (3 Options Remaining)

AAA, MLB

A seemingly always underrated prospect, Chris Owings is the type of offense-first prospect fantasy owners should be drooling over. Owings is ready to make his impact felt in Arizona after receiving a 61 plate appearance cup of coffee in 2013 and is poised to battle Didi Gregorius for the starting shortstop job in Spring Training. I give the edge to Owings at the moment. Owings' defense is a bit behind Didi's, but his offense runs circles around Gregorius.

Owings is 22 years old and spent the majority of 2013 in AAA hitting .330/.359/.482 in 125 games with 12 HRs and 20 SBs. Despite playing in the offense-friendly environs of Reno and the Pacific Coast League, the power/speed combo is for real, and I think there might even be more power to come in the bat. If I were to nitpick on one thing in Owings' offensive game, it would be his lack of walks. His K% has always been manageable, but his walk rate is consistently below 5%. That puts a lot of pressure on his contact ability and could cause him some trouble at the highest level. Owings will be one of my favorite fliers late in re-draft leagues as he has a great chance to get a full season's worth of at bats in Arizona and has 15/15 potential with a chance for even more.

#3 Braden Shipley (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

0

0

5.05

1.48

40

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

39.2

0.69

1.52

8.0%

22.9%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A-, A

The 15th overall pick in the 2013 rookie draft, Braden Shipley is a right-hander from the University of Nevada with a big fastball and a changeup well beyond his years. Shipley has a medium-sized build (6'3"/ 190 lb.) and when paired with his athleticism, should be able handle a consistent workload with no problem. He will be 22 years old next year and will move fairly quickly through the system as a result. We only received a brief 40-inning preview of Shipley after he signed and he split the time between short-season and Lo-A. It would be foolish to draw too many conclusions from his raw numbers given the small sample size, but the strikeout rates he posted in both levels are encouraging.

Similar to Bradley, Shipley features a fastball, changeup, and curveball combination. The fastball sits in the mid-90s, but is mostly straight. He will have to fine-tune the command of the pitch in order to make up for the lack of life on it. Shipley's changeup is one of the best in the draft class; thrown with excellent deception and falls off the table as it approaches the plate. It plays very well off his plus fastball velo and is a legit weapon. His curveball lags behind the other offerings but does have some potential to be another bat-misser. He gets sharp break on the pitch, but lacks the feel and confidence to throw it in certain spots. He favors the changeup over the hook.

The biggest question mark for Shipley was due to a lull in performance as his final collegiate season wore on. He has a limited track record for pitching and many doubted his ability to hold up across an entire big league season. The Diamondbacks may decide to take it slow and let him build up endurance in the lower levels. I could see him starting out in Lo-A and getting to Hi-A by the end of the year. 2015 or possibly even 2016 could be a practical ETA for Braden Shipley's debut.

***Because of the timing of the trade, we didn't cover Matt Davidson in any of our rankings. I'd have him here at #4 if he were still a D-back.

#4 Andrew Chafin (LHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

13

0

3.21

1.30

119

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

157.1

0.34

1.17

8.3%

18.0%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

23

R/L

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2014 Season)

A+, AA

Andrew Chafin is a tweener lefty with a pretty high floor for fantasy owners. He lacks the size and repertoire of a front-end starter, but he has the whiff-inducing stuff that could play as a back end starter or closer. Chafin was the 43rd player taken in the 2011 MLB Draft out of Kent State University. He stands 6'2"/ 205 lb. and better fits the mold of a reliever. He spent the majority of the season in AA as a starter and should be ready for a challenge in AAA to start 2014. The D-Backs will likely keep him as a starter as long as they can, but given their current depth at the major league level, if Chafin pitches well he could receive a late season call up to help solidify the bullpen.

Chafin's fastball sits in the low 90's with some readings maxing out at 95. His fastball doesn't seem to have as much natural late life as other lefties, but the pitch is by no means flat. It's an average offering with a good chance for more if he refines the command and can hit the top range of his velocity with consistency. His slider is the go-to pitch and is already a plus-plus option. His changeup is developing and might ultimately dictate his career as a reliever or starter.

There is some injury history of note in Chafin's past as he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009 during his collegiate career. He seems to have put it well behind him now, but his delivery is anything but smooth, so I question how he holds up after a year or two of 200 innings on his arm. His fastball/slider combo will make Chafin fantasy relevant in almost any format, and it will just be a matter of whether it's at the back end of a bullpen or in the starting rotation. The delivery flaws and organizational depth in starters leads me to believe it will be as a reliever.

#5 Jake Lamb (3B)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.302

48

13

52

0

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

304

0.421

0.548

16.4%

24.7%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

23

L/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

Rk, A+

A broken hamate bone derailed Lamb's development path a bit, but he still managed to garner some attention as a breakout hitter in 2013. A 6th round pick in the 2012 draft, Lamb tore the cover off the ball when he was healthy enough to be on the field. He hit 13 homeruns and slashed .303/.424/.558 in 64 games at Hi-A. He's already 23 years old after being selected out of Washington University, but Lamb is definitely an intriguing fantasy prospect whose name isn't popping up as much as it should. His age relative to level is a reason to be a little cautious, but the AA challenge he's about to receive can go a long way in solidifying his prospect status.

Lamb's long-term outlook received a huge boost after the Diamondbacks sent Matt Davidson to Chicago and opened up a fairly clear path for Lamb. Some combination of Prado and Chavez should hold the fort in 2014, but Brandon Drury is the only prospect of note at the 3B position for Arizona, and he's a year behind Lamb. Lamb has the defensive chops (hiyo!) to stick at third and has power the position is sorely lacking.

There is a little too much swing and miss in his game, but he does nullify it a bit by drawing a ton of walks. Lamb had a 17% walk rate in Hi-A against his 24.7% strikeout rate. Lamb will move to AA where he likely would've ended 2013 if not for the injury. 2015 is a realistic ETA and earlier if the space in front of him on the big league depth chart remains open.

#6 Stryker Trahan (C)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.254

44

10

33

1

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

262

0.328

0.462

9.2%

21.8%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

19

L/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk

The Diamondbacks are taking it slow with Stryker Trahan as he spent a second season in Rookie ball to develop his defensive abilities before being pushed to a full season schedule. Trahan is a former 1st round pick in the 2012 draft, but as a high school bat he can afford to spend another year in Rookie ball; especially if it means he's going to stick as a catcher. The reports have been good on his defense and there is a growing consensus that he won't have to move off the position. This should leave fantasy owners drooling.

Trahan's offense has never been in question and he should develop a solid hit tool to go with his above-average power capabilities. He's shown solid plate discipline in the lower levels, striking out roughly 20% of the time with a walk rate around 10%. The power is also growing as he hit 10 home runs in only 59 games of short season ball last year. He's a left-handed hitter who seems to stand in pretty well against lefty pitchers. Still only 19 years old the future is bright for Trahan. The development path is going to be quite long with the defense probably another 3-4 years away from being ready, but the return could be very sweet for dynasty owners.

#7 Brandon Drury (3B)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.302

78

15

85

1

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

583

0.362

0.500

8.1%

15.8%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2014 Season)

A

A sneaky add in the Justin Upton to Atlanta blockbuster, Brandon Drury is starting to establish himself as a legit prospect and possible starter at the highest level. Drury hit an impressive .302/.362/.500 while repeating Lo-A ball but shifting from the Sally League to the Midwest League. Some interesting power also developed as he hit 15 bombs in 134 games.

Drury should face AA pitching at some point in 2014 and that will go a long way in legitimizing his future as a possible starter. I still prefer Jake Lamb in the long run, but Drury is no slouch. Many questioned Drury's glove when he was first drafted, but recent reports appear confident he can stick at the hot corner. He doesn't strike out much (15.8% strikeout rate in 2013) and showed a big improvement in his walk rate after joining the Arizona system (up to 8.1% this season).

#8 Aaron Blair (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

1

0

3.17

1.27

41

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

48.2

0.37

1.12

8.4%

20.2%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

21

R/R

Not On 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

A-, A

Blair was a supplemental 1st round pick (36th overall) in this year's rookie draft. He's a college righty hailing from Marshall University and made it up to Lo-A in his inaugural season. He is built like a front-end starter, standing at 6'5" and 230 lb. but he doesn't have the stuff that will blow hitters away. Readings on his fastball have fluctuated between 88 - 93 mph. If he can sit on the top end of that range, he has a chance to be something interesting.

On top of the fastball, Blair throws a curveball, a slide piece, and a changeup. All have a chance to be above-average offerings, with the changeup looking to be the most refined at the present. The ceiling for Blair is somewhere between a #3 and #4 starter. Positive marks on his makeup increase the likelihood of maxing it out, but the development of his breaking pitches will go farther in determining his success. If he does develop into an innings-eating rotation piece, he won't have a ton of value due to the lack of strikeouts. Deeper leagues will find more interest in Blair's services.

#9 Sergio Alcantara (SS)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

AVG

R

HR

RBI

SB

0.243

31

0

16

3

SECONDARY STATISTICS

PA

OBP%

SLG%

BB%

K%

218

0.398

0.320

20.2%

16.5%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

17

B/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2016 Season)

Rk

A young, toolsy prospect out of the Dominican, Sergio Alcantara has all the instincts of a future big league shortstop. He also has a cannon for an arm that should solidify his future at the position. He's wiry at 5'10" and only 150 lbs. but at 17 years old there is plenty of time for him to fill out a bit. As he matures, there should be some gap power that develops, but currently there isn't much to speak of.

What catches me about Alcantara is his advanced approach at the plate for such a young hitter. In 48 games at the complex level, he walked 44 times and struck out only 36. The quality of pitching has something to do with the high walk rates, but it's a good sign nonetheless. In the deepest of leagues, he's a low risk/high reward stash and for shallower leagues, he's worth keeping an eye on this next season.

20131122_mjr_su5_033.0
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

#10 Jake Barrett (RHP)

FANTASY STATISTICS (ALL LEVELS)

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

3

29

1.21

0.98

59

SECONDARY STATISTICS

IP

HR/9

GO/AO

BB%

K%

52

0.69

0.98

5.6%

27.6%

OTHER INFORMATION

AGE ON 1/1/2014

B/T

ROSTER STATUS

LEVELS

22

R/R

Not on 40 Man Roster (Protect After 2015 Season)

A+, AA

Barrett has made a big splash since being drafted in the 3rd Round out of Arizona State in 2012. He's a reliever through and through, and an excellent candidate for future Diamondbacks closer. In 52 innings he hurled a 1.21 ERA across Hi-A and AA while striking out over a batter an inning. He's not far off from a major league debut and should be on the radar for those looking to pick up saves mid-season.

Barrett features a plus-plus fastball in the upper 90's, and a nasty slider that gets a ton of swings and misses. He's also reportedly developing a splitter that would give him an awesome three-pitch mix to work with in short bursts. Given the plethora of starting options and team's constant need for bullpen help, it's a sure thing Barrett sticks as a high leverage reliever and he has the stuff to stick. He's definitely one of the top sleepers for a 2014 closer's role if injuries or ineffectiveness again plague the back end of Arizona's bullpen.

Other Interesting Prospects
By Brian Creagh (@briancreagh)

Zeke Spruill - Another solid starter prospect without over-powering stuff, Spruill is likely headed back to AAA to start 2014. He could fill in a rotation spot at any moment, but the strikeout numbers won't be fantastic. Should be a solid 4/5 starter in the end, but his immediate path to playing time is blocked by a system stacked with pitching depth.

Justin Williams - Williams is a projectable hitter already standing 6'2" and 215 lbs. at 18 years old after being drafted out of high school by the Dbacks. He moved quickly up to Lo-A in a short amount of time and showed solid discipline skills at every level. He hit only 1 HR in 51 games, but given his stature and swing type, the power should come. There's a ton of upside here if the contact skills he showed in a brief sample are for real. Could make a huge climb through the Top 10 after a full season of development under his belt.


About the Authors

Jason Hunt is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in the minor leagues and prospects.
Follow him on Twitter

Brian Creagh is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter

Matt Mattingly is a contributing writer for Fake Teams, specializing in fantasy baseball and the minor leagues.
Follow him on Twitter

Sources

Baseball America
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
Fangraphs
AZ Snake Pit
Vimeo
Youtube

Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Fake Teams

You must be a member of Fake Teams to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fake Teams. You should read them.

Join Fake Teams

You must be a member of Fake Teams to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fake Teams. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker