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Arizona Diamondbacks 2015 Top Fantasy Prospects

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

Can new GM Dave Stewart improve the farm system as well as the major league team?
Can new GM Dave Stewart improve the farm system as well as the major league team?
Norm Hall

Just like last year, 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 2015. 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
(3/11)

Chicago
(2/11)

Houston
(1/14)

Atlanta
(12/10)

Chicago
(11/12)

Arizona
(Today)

Boston
(3/14)

Cleveland
(2/14)

Los Angeles
(1/17)

Miami
(12/13)

Cincinnati
(11/15)

Colorado
(10/22)

New York
(3/18)

Detroit
(2/18)

Oakland
(1/21)

New York
(12/17)

Milwaukee
(11/19)

Los Angeles
(10/25)

Tampa Bay
(3/21)

Kansas City
(2/21)

Seattle
(1/24)

Philadelphia
(12/20)

Pittsburgh
(11/22)

San Diego
(10/29)

Toronto
(3/25)

Minnesota
(2/25)

Texas
(1/28)

Washington
(12/24)

St. Louis
(11/26)

San Francisco
(11/1)

Organizational Overview
by Brian Creagh

In the 10 months since we last wrote up the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, the team has had a rough go of it. They fired their GM and manager, Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson, respectively. They finished with a league-worst 64-98 record. And they failed to see the promotion of their consensus Top-10 prospect, Archie Bradley, who battled injuries and control issues. By any measure, this past season was a failure by the Diamondbacks franchise.

Luckily for us, this is the 2015 Minor League Keeper Thoughts and our focus is on the future. A future that will be shaped entirely by their new Chief Baseball Officer, Tony LaRussa. LaRussa has already brought in Dave Stewart as the new General Manager, hired Chip Hale as the new manager, and has the #1 overall pick (and accompanying bonus pool) at his disposal for the upcoming draft. The wheels are already in motion for a return to title contention, some key pieces are already in place, and as our colleages at AZ Snake Pit noted, this organization might only be a year or two away from making some noise again.

Patrick Corbin was one of the early victims to the Tommy John epidemic that MLB endured last season, and he should slot in nicely at the top of the Arizona rotation once he's fully recovered, tentatively sometime around June. With Cahill, Miley, and Collmenter all back next year plus a hopefully healthy Daniel Hudson, there is a ton of depth in the rest of the rotation. No one in this group inspires a ton of confidence, but they are all MLB-caliber arms and can keep the team in ballgames. Add in the debut of Archie Bradley, whose performance at this point will be anyone's guess (I'm a little more down on him than most, FWIW), and there is the potential for an above-average major league rotation in 2015. I do think they could stand to add a top pitching option from this year's free agent class, but with so many #4/#5 starter-type arms, I wonder if Dave Stewart decides to roll the dice with what he has. From a fantasy perspective, I'm not sure there is a single guy in this rotation that I'm drafting in 2015. Chase Anderson was a fantastic surprise in 2014, but the stuff just doesn't seem to match the performance and I have a hard time buying in.

The offense is going to need some work. There isn't a ton of power outside of Paul Goldschmidt and there isn't a whole lot of help coming in the pipeline with only one position prospect in our Top 5. It will all start with their catalyst, Paul Goldschmidt and if healthy for 2015, should re-establish himself as an MVP candidate and perennial Top 5 fantasy pick. A.J. Pollock emerged as a definitive leadoff hitter and a sneaky play in fantasy leagues next year as injuries suppressed the numbers of his impressive season. Chris Owings was the biggest offensive promotion of last season, and he performed admirably. Whether he sticks at 2B or slides over to SS, he's a fantasy starter in any format. A healthy Mark Trumbo will help pack a punch in the middle of the lineup, but his defensive liabilities and contact issues place him right around replacement value in a full season. A few interesting guys on the farm, or promoted at the end of the year: Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, and Peter O'Brien won't have much impact in 2015, but could develop into solid role players down the line. They all have the added benefit of not having much blocking their current path to playing time (although O'Brien is looking less and less likely to stay behind the dish).

Arizona is in great hands with Tony LaRussa calling the shots, and I expect 2015 to be a big step in the right direction. I wouldn't bet playoffs in 2015, but I would be surprised if they came anywhere close to sniffing 100 losses again. Their draft position this June will add the impact talent the farm desperately needs, and the healthy return of their best MLB talents should be enough to help fans see the light at the end of the tunnel.

2014 Graduates

The following players have surpassed their rookie maximums of 130 AB, 50 IP, or 45 days of service time.

Ender Inciarte (AB), Chris Owings (AB), David Peralta (AB), Tuffy Gosewich (AB), Alfredo Marte (AB), Jake Lamb (ST), Nick Ahmed (ST), Vidal Nuno (IP), Chase Anderson (IP), Evan Marshall (ST), Mike Bolsinger (IP), Matt Stites (ST), Eury De La Rosa (IP)

Major League Opportunities in 2015
by Brian Creagh

The Diamondbacks have a tight off-season budget and a lot of players locked into contracts for the 2015 season and as a result we see very little opportunities for prospects to break through. The starting rotation is probably the best bet considering the team's combination of mid-level arms at the MLB level and prospect talent at the farm system. Archie Bradley should make his debut in 2015, but he has the scent of a bullpen guy during his first sip of coffee if it comes later in the year. Not to say he's a bullpen arm long-term, but the Diamondbacks will have little reason to burn precious innings during a presumably lost 2015 campaign. Jake Barrett is a bullpen arm to keep an eye on - a closer in the minor leagues, he should find his way to the MLB this year and could settle into a nice setup role.

The offense is just about set in stone. The best offensive prospect, in my opinion, Justin Williams is a long ways away. Brandon Drury and Peter O'Brien are staring down the AA test next year and won't be ready for a debut, which leaves no potentially impact bat in a position to reach the majors in 2015. Given the Diamondbacks depth at OF and SP, I wonder if some deals are in the works to add some depth to the farm system. If deals are made, keep an eye on any prospect coming to Arizona as he'll have plenty of opportunity to play and nobody nipping at his heels for a few years.


Top 10 Fantasy Prospects
by Jason Hunt

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

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1. Archie Bradley (RHP)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
3 0 4.45 1.506 75
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
83 0.2 0.99 13.17% 20.16%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R AA-AAA-Rk
Roster Status: Protect After 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

Taken with the #7 overall pick back in the loaded 2011 draft, Bradley reached AA by the end of the 2013 season and was expected not only to start the season at AAA Reno, but also likely finish it in the rotation for the Diamondbacks. He did end up in Reno in April, but ended up making just five starts in the month before being shut down with an elbow injury.

He returned to game action in mid-June with a rehab start in the Arizona rookie league before being sent to AA Mobile. It was anticipated at the time that he'd be there for a few starts, and return to Reno before too long. However, he ended up spending the rest of the season with Mobile, and had a mixed bag of results from game to game. He's pitching in the Arizona Fall League to get more innings under his belt, and presumably to work on his command.

Bradley features an above-average to elite fastball, which can sit in the mid-90s and flash a little bit more at times as well. The pitch can have good movement at times also. He also has a curveball, which is also above-average to elite, as well as a changeup that can be average. There also seem to be some questions about his ability to repeat his delivery and release point, which may be causing some of the issues we see with his walks.

The main concern for Bradley right now is his command, and specifically his ability to avoid walks and put pitches where he wants them. He saw a drop in his strikeout rate and a jump in his walk rate this year at AA Mobile, and will need to get that under control before he is deemed ready for the majors.

If he can get his command back where it was before the injury, Bradley has the potential to be a top 25 fantasy starting pitcher, capable of providing a lot of strikeouts over a 200 inning workload. His path to the majors in 2015 will likely see him return to Reno to start the year, but potentially be called up sometime in the middle of the season.

2. Braden Shipley (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
7 0 3.86 1.26 127
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
126 0.80 1.21 8.03% 24.28%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R A+-A-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

Drafted by the Diamondbacks with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Shipley was expected to be a bit of a raw pitching prospect as a professional. He went to college as a shortstop, but started pitching his sophomore season and excelled at it. The Diamondbacks gave him a bonus of $2.25 million, and he finished his first pro season at Low-A South Bend.

Shipley returned there to start the 2014 season, but was only there for eight starts before a move to High-A in the hitter-friendly California League. He made just ten starts there before jumping to AA Mobile, where he finished the year with four more starts. Overall, he finished the year with 127 strikeouts, 42 walks, 117 hits allowed and a 3.86 ERA over 126 innings pitched.

He features three pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup) which are already considered average offerings, with the potential for at least the fastball and curveball to be above-average. His delivery is fairly easy and smooth, and appears repeatable as well.

There was some debate about moving Shipley ahead of Bradley when our staff discussed these rankings, as Shipley has shown the potential to be a #2/#3 starting pitcher. I ultimately decided to leave Shipley right behind Bradley, but their potential ceilings are not as far apart as they were a year ago.

Shipley could turn into a mid-rotation starting pitcher, with the potential for seasons of even better performance. He should provide fantasy owners with a high strikeout total, as well as solid numbers in both ERA and WHIP. He'll likely return to AA to start the 2015 season, but we could see him by the end of the year in Arizona.

3. Brandon Drury (3B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.299 85 23 95 4
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
594 0.362 0.510 8.08% 15.99%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
21 R R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2014 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

One of the five players that the Diamondbacks received for Justin Upton in 2013, Drury could be the one with the largest impact in the future. A 13th round pick back in 2010, Drury spent his first two professional seasons at each of the Braves' short-season leagues, including a .347/.367/.525 campaign with 8 home runs in 63 games at Danville in 2011.

He was given his first full-season assignment in 2012, where the numbers point to some struggles (.229/.270/.333, 6 home runs, 20 BB, 73 K in 123 games) in the Sally League. Baseball America's report after the season noted that Drury's approach caused a lot of the issues, and that he also struggled on defense at third base.

As noted, he was included in the Upton trade, and the Diamondbacks returned him to full-season Low-A for the 2013 campaign. The season was a drastic improvement from the previous year, leading our own Brian Creagh to rank him as the 7th best prospect in the Diamondbacks' system a year ago.

If 2013 was a huge improvement, 2014 further solidified his future as a potential impact hitter for fantasy. He split his time between High-A Visalia and AA Mobile, hitting .299/.362/.510 with 23 home runs and 95 RBI. The reports this season point to a player who has figured out a lot of what he needs to do to be a successful hitter, capable of providing solid power and batting average totals on a regular basis.

The questions about Drury really seem to stem from his long-term position on the field. He has played third base primarily throughout his career, but could see some time at second base as well. It's not clear if one will provide a better path to the majors than the other, but would give more options to the Diamondbacks as well.

Long term, Drury will likely return to AA to start the 2015 campaign. He is expected to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, as he does need to be protected from the Rule V draft. As a result of this, we could see him at some point during the 2015 season, with 2016 a more likely time to see him establish himself in the majors. His bat has the potential to be useful at either position, but if he can stick as a passable second baseman, he could be in the top 10 at that position down the line.

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4. Touki Toussaint (RHP)

Photo Credit: Reid Compton - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
2 0 8.48 1.953 32
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
28.2 1.60 1.29 12.24% 21.77%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R R Rk
Roster Status: Protect After 2018 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

Toussaint was the top pick for the Diamondbacks in this year's draft, and has the potential to be a very interesting starting pitcher. Drafted out of a Florida high school, Toussaint was considered one of the more raw prospects available in the draft. This wasn't a huge surprise though, as he did not start playing baseball until a few years ago. He is also helped by his athleticism, which was among the best in the draft.

Toussaint has the potential to have three average offerings down the line, and has shown a very easy delivery so far. His fastball sits in the mid-90's with reports having it as high as 97 with good movement, and has the potential to be a plus offering. His curveball is a big 12-6 breaker that gets rave reviews, and is downright filthy. His third pitch is a changeup that is anticipated to be an average offering down the line.

As you might expect, the big takeaway from Toussaint's first season is that he remains very raw, as he struggled with his consistency during the year. He would have issues commanding his pitches at times, but did still show flashes of what he can be down the line. He has the potential to be a top 30 fantasy starting pitcher down the line, providing high strikeout totals and potentially low ratios. He may not pitch in full season ball in 2015, and could take until the 2018 season to reach the majors potentially, but is definitely one of the more interesting names from this year's draft class.

You can find video of Toussaint from before the draft here, and it gives a pretty wide range of what Toussaint can do on the mound. You can also see a couple ridiculous examples of his curveball a little after the minute mark.

5. Justin Williams (OF)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.351 47 4 46 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
320 0.403 0.467 7.50% 20.94%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 L R Rk-A
Roster Status: Protect after 2017 Season
ETA to Majors: 2018

A 2013 draft pick out of a Louisiana high school, Williams remains a lot of projection at this point. After signing, Williams went out and tore up the Rookie League with a .345 batting average, albeit with just minimal power production (12 doubles, 1 home run). He spent the last two weeks of that season between Missoula and South Bend, and finished the season with a .351/.397/.452 slash line overall. The Diamondbacks returned Williams to Missoula to start the season this year, where he hit .386/.433/.471 before a promotion to finish the year back at South Bend.

Scouting reports rave about Williams' raw power, although it has not entirely shown up in-game yet. If he can translate that, he has the potential to be an impact bat, capable of providing a good batting average to go with 25+ home run potential. The bat should be strong enough to carry him defensively, as he is expected to be limited to left field in the long-term. He's a long way from the majors right now, and should return to full-season Low-A for the 2015 campaign.

6. Aaron Blair (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
9 0 3.56 1.14 171
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
154.1 0.70 0.79 7.91% 26.51%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
22 R R A+-AA-A
Roster Status: Protect after 2016 Season
ETA to Majors: Late 2015

The Diamondbacks drafted Blair out of West Virginia University with the 36th overall pick in 2013, and signed him to a bonus of just over $1.4 million. The team had Blair split his time that year between their Northwest League and Midwest League affiliates, where he struck out 41 and walked 17 over 48 innings pitched.

He returned to the Midwest League to start the 2014 season, but moved quickly through High-A Visalia and finished up with Bradley and Shipley at AA Mobile. The performance was even better than expected, striking out 171, walking 51, and finishing up with a 3.56 ERA across 154 innings pitched.

Blair really solidified his stock with his performance this year, but is viewed a bit behind Bradley and Shipley because his ceiling isn't quite as high. He's expected to be somewhere between a mid-rotation and back-of the rotation starter, featuring a three-pitch repertoire of a fastball, curveball, and changeup which all have the potential to be at least average or better. Reports on his curveball point to progression this year as well, which could raise that ceiling a little more if it sticks in 2015. He's likely to return to AA to start the 2015 season, but should be in the majors before the end of the year if it all goes well.

7. Peter O'Brien (C/1B)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.271 67 34 74 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
427 0.316 0.594 4.92% 26.00%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
23 R R A+-AA
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2016

Acquired by the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline for Martin Prado, O'Brien's finished the 2014 season 6th in the minor leagues with 34 home runs, despite only appearing in a total of 106 games. His power potential is easily his best tool, as he could be capable of hitting 30+ home runs a season in the major leagues based on that alone.

There are concerns about whether his hit tool will allow that power to be achieved fully. He has consistently struck out in 25% of his at bats each season, and while he has hit for a high average this year, he's not expected to provide that kind of production in the majors.

O'Brien is playing in the Arizona Fall League this month, and will be working as a catcher. The long-term path to playing time for him with Arizona is likely behind the plate, so while he has already reached AA this year, we may not see him in the majors for a bit while the team allows him to work on his defense.

The most likely outcome for O'Brien points to a high power, low batting average producer with a sketchy defensive profile. If that future is at catcher as the Diamondbacks are hoping, there's going to be value to that in a lot of leagues. If he is limited to first base, the pressure on his bat will likely be too much to make him fantasy relevant except in the deepest leagues, and he will be extremely unlikely to see playing time with Paul Goldschmidt under contract for the next four seasons.

8. Cody Reed (LHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
0 0 2.20 0.98 40
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
32.2 0.30 1.29 9.23% 30.77%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
18 R L Rk
Roster Status: Protect after 2018 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

A second round pick out of an Alabama high school, Reed signed with the Diamondbacks for just over $1 million. The team sent him to the Arizona Rookie league, as well as the short-season Missoula team, and he posted very good numbers across both levels (40 K, 12 BB, 2.20 ERA over 32 innings pitched).

The reports on Reed point to a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher if it all clicks. He features a fastball which was sitting in the mid-90's before the draft, as well as a slider, curveball, and changeup. He has shown good command so far, which bodes well for the development of all his pitches. There are questions long-term about Reed's role, and at least some of those questions seem to stem from his build. Depsite being a high school draftee, Reed is already 6'3, and listed at 245, and was noted as being 260 in Baseball America's pre-draft report. If he cannot stay in the rotation for some reason, he could end up being a useful bullpen arm.

It's not clear yet, but Reed could either end up starting 2015 in extended spring training with a short-season assignment down the line, or potentially in the rotation for full-season Fort Wayne. He's likely looking at an ETA sometime between 2018 and 2019 if he goes at a level-per-year rate.

9. Jose Martinez (RHP)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
1 0 6.00 2.00 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 GO/AO BB% K%
6 1.50 0.86 13.79% 10.34%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
20 R R A
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2019

A right handed pitcher signed back in 2011 from the Dominican Republic, Martinez jumped up top prospect lists after the 2013 season amid reports that he could potentially be a mid-rotation starting pitcher, and that his potential was better than what his numbers portrayed that season. The Diamondbacks sent him to full-season South Bend in early May this year, but was only able to make two starts before a stress fracture in his elbow ended his season.

Martinez could jump back near the top of this list in 2015 with a healthy return to the field, and until we see him pitch again we don't really know if his long-term outlook has changed much. He could still have that mid-rotation ceiling, or could potentially end up as a bullpen arm with his fastball-curveball combination.

10. Andrew Velazquez (SS)

2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.290 94 9 56 50
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
622 0.367 0.428 9.97% 21.86%
OTHER INFORMATION
AGE Bats Throws 2014 Levels
19 S R A
Roster Status: Protect after 2015 Season
ETA to Majors: 2017

Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 7th round of the 2012 draft, Andrew Velazquez may not have the upside of some of the players ahead of him on this list, but remains an interesting name to watch. He repeated full season Low-A in 2014, and drew notoriety upon himself after reaching base in an amazing 74 games straight during the year. The overall performance was excellent as well, hitting .290/.367/.428 with 9 home runs and a league-leading 50 stolen bases.

There are questions about how much Velazquez will hit as he continues to move up, which seems to stem in part from his smallish stature (5'8, 175 lbs.). The speed he showed this year is legitimate, and should continue to help his fantasy value as he moves up the minor leagues. His defense is considered strong enough in the long-term to stay at shortstop, albeit with the usual reps needed for all prospects.

Velazquez is a name worth watching in 2015, as he could skyrocket up these charts if he can help quiet some of the concerns about his hit tool. The best case scenario is a high average, high stolen base shortstop who provides a little bit of power to go with it. If it doesn't work out, he still likely ends up with a major league career as a utility infielder, but loses nearly all of his fantasy value at that point. He'll likely head to High-A Lake Elsinore, another hitter's haven in the California League, so we may not get a great idea until the next level after that.

Other Interesting Prospects
by Jason Hunt

Stryker Trahan - A first round pick back in 2012, Trahan was moved to the outfield at the start of the year to help move his bat along more quickly. Contact issues have plagued him so far, and it's not clear whether he will hit for enough batting average to stay in the lineup regardless of the position. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Trahan wanted to return to catching, which he did primarily in his stint with Hillsboro at the end of the season. He'll need to have a much better year in 2015 to re-emerge as a potential top prospect, but that potential is still there.

Sergio Alcantara - Alcantara was signed by the Diamondbacks in the July 2012 IFA period, and the reports on him point to a potentially interesting prospect down the line. The performance right now was very good for a 17-year old in the Pioneer League this year, but the hard part to tell right now is whether he will be a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one. He's a name worth watching, as he is expected to be able to stay at shortstop in the long-term, and if he can hit a decent amount should be worth owning in a lot of leagues.

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 

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