The Diamondbacks’ farm system is not one of baseball’s best. The departures of Aaron Blair, Dansby Swanson and Isan Diaz among others has left the system as the 22nd-best, according to Baseball America. However, there are still some noteworthy youngsters in the system. Here are 11 of the best that could soon be Diamondbacks:
10a. TAYLOR CLARKE (22) – RHP
10b. ANTHONY BANDA (22) – LHP
The pair of 22-year-olds lead off the list. Clarke is fairly new to the system having been drafted last season, but started his professional career with 21 innings of scoreless ball. Although he was a reliever in college, the Diamondbacks are going to use him as a starter– who has solid control.
Banda ,on the other hand, has had a couple of successful minor league seasons under his belt. This projectable lefty has solid velocity for southpaw and his off speed pitches can also keep hitters off guard. Both pitchers have the ceilings to be solid mid-rotation starters and although they do not have the highest of ceilings, they are pretty solid bets to reach the big leagues in the near future.
9.JAMIE WESTBROOK (20) – 2B
Undersized middle infielder probably isn’t ranked this high on most lists, but he could climb up those charts as he continues to mature. Playing fairly young in Single-A last season, Westbrook showed his raw power (although California League is notorious for being hitter-friendly) hitting 54 extra-base hits while playing solid defense up the middle. He’s still long ways away, but hometown product has potential to be 5 tool stud if everything comes together and is potential every day player in the making.
8.TYLER WAGNER (25) – RHP
Another sinker-baller, Wagner came over from the Jean Segura tradeand is in line to compete for the fifth rotation spot this spring. He was stellar last season in Double-A, winning 11 games while holding a 2.66 ERA. He is close to reaching his ceiling and whether or not he makes the rotation this spring, he’ll be the first line of defense for the Diamondbacks should they need another starter during the season.
7. WEI CHIEH HUANG (22) – RHP
This Taiwanese righty signed as an amateur just last season and had a 2.00 ERA in Low-A ball. He is small– a six-foot-1 170-pounder without much overpowing stuff. But his control and consistent low-90s fastball are what make him great. His change-up is his best pitch and he is one of the safer picks to make it the rotation when all is said and done.
6. BRAD KELLER (20) – RHP
Every prospect list has one player that is fairly unknown– Keller is that guy on this list. He was drafted in the eighth round three years ago and blew his competition away during his debut season. Last year, Keller made 25 starts (26 appearances,) with a 2.60 ERA, showing his dominating stuff once again.
5. BRANDON DRURY (23) – 2B/3B
Drury has gone from an unknown minor leaguer to the centerpiece of the Justin Upton trade, Drury has developed himself into one of the better infield prospects in the game with his bat. A threat to constantly hit close to .300 with solid on-base percentage, Drury showed plenty of gap power with the Diamondbacks– although his home run totals diminished last season. He has improved his defense to become solid glove over at both second and hot corner and if it weren’t for Diamondbacks’ abundance of infielders, Drury would easily be an Opening Day starter.
4. ALEX YOUNG (22) – LHP
Young will be convert back into the rotation after relieving last season. He has lively fastball coming from a sharp angle, topping out at mid-90s. He is said to have smooth delivery, which is easy to replicate. If all goes well with his development, he can be an above-average starter for the Diamondbacks in the future.
3. SOCRATES BRITO (23) – OF
Many, including manager Chip Hale and ESPN analyst Aaron Boone, have been touting the development of Brito. He’s been so good this spring he could eventually force Yasmany Tomas out of a starting role this April. Brito has solid gap power and knows how to have good at-bats. He has keen eyes for pitch selection, runs the bases well and can bunt his way onto bases if needed. He is athletic and lengthy outfielder who can cover his grounds extremely well who can provide the lineup with solid leadoff hitter as soon as this upcoming opening day.
2.ARCHIE BRADLEY (23) – RHP
Bradley was off to a hot start last season in the big leagues in his first four starts, but his season came to sudden halt with traumatic head injury. Now back with the big-league camp at full strength, Bradley still has arsenal that consists of three above average pitches that made him one of the top prospects in the game for few seasons. Although he’s still young, Bradley needs to take the step forward in the right direction this season to fully realize his potential.
1.BRADEN SHIPLEY (24) – RHP
Shipley is a converted shortstop who magically slipped to Diamondbacks at 15th overall in 2013. He was off to a slow start but came to scorching finish at the Double-A ball last season, with his stellar curveball as well as a good change-up. He has the tools to become top-of-the- rotation starter and with little more refining of his control in the minors. He could be big-league ready later this season.