Diamondbacks Prospects

Life on the Farm: Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League Report

By Chuck Jackson
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Before we get to last week’s minor league results, how about a quick shout out to Zack Godley and his impressive first start at the major league level? Some of you may remember Zack Godley from previous Life on the Farm reports. He does, after all, own what I once dubbed the greatest name in baseball. Welcome to the show young man!

Now to the minors:

Reno Aces (AAA): 4-3 (48-54 season, 2nd place)

To start with, being tied for second place and being six games below .500 usually means you have quite a bit of luck on your side. But, as lucky as they may be, they still stand 10 games behind Fresno for first in the Northern division.

Of note this week, Jamie Romak (he was in the home run derby two weeks ago) is still on a tear. He drove in 11 runs last week, including five last Monday against Albuquerque. He currently leads the league in RBI with 80 and is second in home runs with 20. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks don’t have a need for Romak, who doesn’t have much appeal at 29 years old. But, he is doing what needs to be done for consideration if a need arises at one of the infield corners.

Pitching is this team’s Achilles’ heel. It has been so inconsistent, that it’s becoming very unusual to call any pitcher out as having a good week. This is a team with about 10 major league level arms, but none of those arms can put it together. What does this mean for the Diamondbacks? Well, for starters, it means if you’re in Reno and your name is not Aaron Blair or Archie Bradley, you have some work to do before being considered for the majors. This was seen last week with the call up of Godley, an age 25 pitcher who had never been above AA (and this was his first taste of AA this year).

Quick update on Peter O’Brien: He’s still pretty awesome and fun to watch. It would not surprise me in the least to see him get a cup of coffee this season. He’s played himself into discussions as the top prospect in the Diamondbacks’ system, save for Dansby Swanson.

Mobile BayBears (AA): 5-2 (18-11 season, 1st place)

The BayBears are doing well in the second half of the Southern League season. This is mainly due to the pitching quality and consistency. This is the team Zack Godley came up from. There are a couple other pitchers to keep tabs on in the coming months of the season. Even after seeing Aaron Blair moved to AAA and Godley to the majors, the BayBears were able to have four shutouts last week. That’s pretty serious.

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One of the pitchers to know is of course Braden Shipley. He started the season on an extended rough note but has since turned it around. In his last four starts, he has gone six innings each time, giving up 8 total runs with 15 strikeouts and four walks, while giving up a single home run. That’s the kind of line you like to see form a guy who has been ranked as a top 100 prospect each of the last couple years.

Another is Yoan Lopez. If the name sounds familiar, it should as he was one of the international signings by the Diamondbacks this last off season. The 22-year old Cuban was in the news yesterday after hitting 1st pick Dansby Swanson in the face with a pitch during a simulated game. Dansby will be OK after not suffering any fractures. In Lopez’s case, he should be returning to AA soon after a minor rehab assignment. When he does, you should expect more sub-3.00 ERA pitching with roughly a strikeout an inning. He’s got some good stuff and won’t be toiling away in the minors much past this season.

Visalia Rawhide (A+): 1-5 (18-11 season, 3rd place)

Visalia finds themselves with the same second half record as the Mobile BayBears after a poor week; however, their 18-11 record is only good for 3rd place at the moment. Visalia has the same issue that the major league club and Reno have: inconsistent pitching and solid hitting.

Kevin Cron has been gaining steam as a prospect the last few weeks, but he still has his deficits. He is a big guy, like his brother CJ (Los Angeles, don’t call us Anaheim, Angels 1st basemen/DH), but he has been struggling to work out his power stroke. He did his a bomb last week, but he needs to decrease his strikeouts and make more consistent contact if he plans to make a move up soon.

This is where Dansby Swanson was supposed to begin his pro career, but now he is going to be in Arizona recovering from the facial injury detailed above. This is also where prospects Stryker Trahan and Domingo Leyba are currently playing. As for pitchers, keep an eye on JR Bradley and Anthony Banda, as both should be making upward movement in the system as other guys get called up through the end of the season.

Kane County Cougars (A): 2-5 (23-8 season, 1st place)

The Cougars are a solid team. should be obvious by their record, but what gets lost in the stats is just how well-rounded the team is. On nights when the offense falters, the pitchers pick them up. The opposite is true of games where the pitching is not it’s best.

This is where Zac Curtis, currently plays. You may recall his name from an article I wrote last week about him. He won the informal mid-season MiLBY for best minor league relief pitcher. Additionally, you’ll find the first Taiwanese player in Diamondbacks history, Wei-Chieh Huang.

Huang has been on fire since beginning is career in the US. On the season he is 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 54 strikeouts, and only 10 walks in 51.2 innings. Don’t expect pitching like this to hang out in A-ball for very long.

Hillsboro Hops (Short A): 4-3 (22-16 season, 1st place)

Say congratulations to the Hops…first half Southern Division champs!

That is quite an accomplishment after winning a title last season. The theme with this team is common among the lower levels of the Diamondbacks affiliates: strong pitching. Hillsboro is home to Jared Miller, who is among the league leaders in wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. He is now holds the record for most wins in a half for the Hops with his seven wins. He’s one of those Vanderbilt pitchers that has shown to be better than his draft stock, mainly because he had so many quality pitching partners while in college.

Missoula Osprey (Rookie): 6-2 (23-14 season, 1st place)

The guy I am going to profile this week is Bo Takahashi, one of the youngest players in the Diamondbacks’ system. He is a 5’11”, 180 pound right-handed pitcher. There is not much of a scouting book on Bo, but what I can tell you is that he pitches with control and mix of pitches more than power. Bo is from Brazil and was not drafted into the system, but was an international signing.

He is considered advanced for his age based on his ability to throw more than two pitches with life. He has been flirting with the 4.00 ERA and 1.20 WHIP marks this season, his second in rookie level ball. He won’t be 19 until January 23, 2016, so he has some time before you need to recognize his name. But, if he can develop physically and build some speed to go with his already solid control, he should become less of a fly ball pitcher, which would benefit his game.

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