Diamondbacks Prospects

Arizona Diamondbacks: Life On the Farm Minor League Report

By Chuck Jackson
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Writing about the Arizona Diamondbacks has been a great joy this season. There has been so many interesting headlines surrounding the team this year. One of the biggest has been the large number of first time major leaguers the team has used. Reporting on what goes on with the minor league affiliates can be a daunting task at times. The Diamondbacks have made more promotion/demotion moves this season than most of their peers. That is a function of a few things such as being more competitive than last year, under performing veterans, better-than-expected play by younger players, an increase in international signings, and of course injuries.

At the beginning of the season, who expected Jamie Romak, Danny Dorn, or Zack Godley to have a role in the majors? The first two were four-A players; journeymen destined to be in AAA forever. Godley had some talent, but was hardly a top 20 prospect in the organization. So, here we are, nearing the dreaded September 1 call-up. We are going to shift gears with the Life on the Farm report for the remainder of the season so we can focus on the future. After all, the Diamondbacks may not be statistically out of a playoff spot, but I don’t expect an epic run of .800 baseball the rest of the way.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the minors:

Aug 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Jamie Romak (4) hits an RBI double in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Reno Aces (AAA): 60-64, 3rd place 16 games behind Fresno

The Aces have had some ups and downs this season. That is a common occurrence when the big club needs your players and makes a lot of roster moves. Jamie Romak was sent back down to the Aces where he has raked all season. If you are looking for some names of potential September call-ups, look no further than Peter O’Brien. After being switched from catcher to the outfield, he has actually improved his contact rate and on-base percentage. He just turned 25 last month and he has been improving as a prospect. I fully expect to see him in September since the Aces won’t be in the post season.

Aaron Blair has thrown seven quality starts in his nine AAA starts. His numbers show a trend that he is lowering the opponent’s contact rates, limiting his walks, and stranding runners more often. He is also in the plans for the future. Being a collegiate pitcher, his road is quicker to the majors than prep pitchers. With that said, I think it is a coin toss as to whether we will see him this season. The main reason is service time. Keep an eye on this. If we see him in September, then you can be sure the Diamondbacks current management cares less about saving money and more about winning. If we don’t, then expect him to be at spring training, with a call up in early June next season.

The third most likely September call-up is Brandon Drury. Since moving to AAA, his walk rate and contact rate have increased. He still doesn’t hit many home runs, but he has gap power leading to a healthy number of doubles. He is still young at 22 years of age, being drafted in 2010. I think there is a better than 50% chance of him being called up.

Mar 3, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley against the Arizona State Sun Devils during a spring training baseball game at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mobile BayBears (AA): 28-21, 1st place

The BayBears will make the post-season, so you shouldn’t see anyone called up until the very end of September, and even then the Diamondbacks may decide that it is not worth it for a week to ten days of games. Mobile has quite a few players the Diamondbacks consider a part of the future. Pitchers Jake Barrett, Dominic Leone, Yoan Lopez, and Braden Shipley lead the list. Hitters Jake Reinheimer, Zack Borenstein, Socrates Brito, and Gabriel Guerrero all project as at minimum major league bench players.

Double-A ball is where team see the most growth in a prospect’s game. That’s why these guys are stationed there. The eldest player on the list, Borenstein has been making a name for himself this season. He has shown more pop and a better contact rate than previous seasons, and even made headlines earlier this season after hitting for the cycle for a second time. Even if the Diamondbacks see a benefit in calling anyone up, the most likely would be Leone and Reinheimer. Both came from the Mariners in trades this season.

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Visalia Rawhide (High-A): 33-19, 1st place

It’s not common for teams to call up prospects from below double-A, so don’t expect anyone from this team in September. There are a few names you need to keep on your radar beginning next season though. Pitchers Anthony Banda and J.R. Bradley will be moving up next season, as will hitters Kevin Cron, Domingo Leyba, and Alex Glenn. You can even expect most, if not all, of them to get invited to spring training for some work with the big club.

You may have noticed my omission of Stryker Trahan. He is still struggling to make consistent contact. Yes, he has superb power, but with poor contact and a position switch to the outfield, he needs some more seasoning. His performance this season has screamed A-ball next year.

Just like Peter O’Brien, Cron is known for his huge power game. He still strikes out far too much, but when he touches it, it goes. He’s a large version of Mark Reynolds in that aspect. Interestingly, the Diamondbacks have J.R Bradley (2nd round pick in 2010) working out of the bullpen this season. This may be a play to use his power arsenal more appropriately as his strikeout rate has skyrocketed and his opponent’s contact rate has plummeted since the change. Bradley is my pick as the highest likely to make the team out of spring training without any previous major league experience. Keep an eye on him.

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Kane County Cougars (Low-A): 37-14, 1st place

As I mentioned earlier, below double-A prospects rarely get the September call-up. Kane County is consistently used by the Diamondbacks as the place higher level, yet very young, prospects get their first taste of professional baseball. The Diamondbacks currently have their first Taiwanese player Wei-Chieh Huang getting his bearings at Kane County. Additionally, pitchers Jose Martinez and Brad Keller are here.

Others:

You may have noticed that Dansby Swanson was not listed above. He is currently at short-season Missoula. After an injury earlier this summer, you can expect him not to be seen until spring training next year. Even though you may see him, don’t expect him to break camp with the big club. Even if he tears it up in spring training and the Diamondbacks don’t care about service-time in the arbitration clock, the team will most likely want him to prove his skills in double-A and/or triple-A to start next season before coming to the majors.

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