When MLB.com unveiled its list of the top 100 prospects for the season back in January, there were only three Diamondbacks mentioned. Archie Bradley was the top pitching prospect on any team, at #5, with Chris Owings and Braden Shipley getting mentioned in the bottom quartile. The mid-season updated to the last does have some bad news for the Diamondbacks as far as their farm system goes. Bradley's struggles and injury issues mean he is no longer ranked in the top 10, and Owings has lost his prospect status. But the team has added three new entrants to the list, in Touki Toussaint, Aaron Blair and Jake Lamb. Let's review all five.
#12. Archie Bradley (was #5)
It ha been a somewhat frustrating season for Bradley, as an elbow issue had fans holding their breaths for a bit and cost Archie almost two months, limiting him to only 12 starts this year. The results have been a bit mixed too, with an ERA of 4.47 and a K:BB ratio in 56.1 innings of 51:30, not the direction we want to see it. I'm not sure I would agree with MLB.com's assessment, "he has looked as good as ever since getting back on the mound," but let's be charitable and assume that was written before Friday's stinker in Pensacola, where he allowed seven ER in 2.2 innings. He did have a 1.78 ERA in his five games before that.
It would be no surprise at all to see Bradley up in the big leagues over the next couple of months. The club has been open about its desire to limit the innings thrown by Chase Anderson, and is contemplating going to a six-man rotation. Said Kirk Gibson, "He's throwing all of his pitches, his breaking ball, his changeup as well. That's kind of what you want to see. You can't just rare back and throw it here. He's going to settle in a little bit from where he first started. He's working on a two-seamer as well." I still would like to see fewer walks from Bradley, but if he can prove that last start was an aberration, look forward to seeing him make his MLB debut in a few weeks.
#47. Braden Shipley (was #79)
Our top pick in last year's draft (#15 overall) seems to be getting an aggressive push. Signed barely a year ago, he has already gone through Hillsboro and Sound Bend, before being promoted to High-A Visalia at the end of May. - he was also our rep at the Futures Game There was an inevitable period of adjustment, Shipley posting a 5.56 ERA over his first six starts for the Rawhide, but the last three have been much better, with a 2.33 ERA, and he's still striking out virtually a batter per inning. The converted shortstop has hit 98 mph, and MLB.com says "Shipley's changeup is his best offspeed pitch, and his curveball gives him a third Major League-average offering."
#85. Touki Toussaint (was not listed)
And our top pick this year becomes the first of the three new arrivals, despite having thrown a mere nine innings in his professional career to date. He has gradually been getting stretched out in the Arizona Rookie League, reaching three innings for the first time in his last start on Wednesday. Touki has allowed 11 hits and seven walks to date, striking out 13, but understandably, is still raw. MLB.com notes, "While Toussaint doesn't repeat his delivery consistently at this point, his athleticism bodes well for his future. He's still learning to control his pitches, but he could have a pair of well-above-average offerings once he does."
#87. Aaron Blair (was not listed)
While Shipley got all the column inches, Blair was our other first-round pick in 2013: his pure numbers have been more impressive, and he has gone even quicker. Aaron is now at his fourth level in Double-A Mobile and has allowed one run in 13.2 innings there, with a 16:1 K:BB ratio. All told, he has struck out 141 batters this year, the second-most by any minor-leaguer (the Marlins' Taylor Cole has two more, but is two years older and still playing in High-A). Based on those numbers, have to raise an eyebrow at MLB.com's assessment "Blair doesn't have Shipley's upside," but if keeps pitching as he has, the ranking gap between them will only narrow.
#98. Jake Lamb (was not listed)
You know you're doing something right when there is an increasing volume of calls for you to be called up and become an everyday starter. This will happen when you have a line of .315/.393/.552 in Double-A, and the 23-year-old Lamb appears largely to be waiting for a spot to open up on the major-league roster. A sixth-round pick in 2012, I think he has the potential to be a steal of approaching Goldie-like levels, though his Mobile numbers are less in raw power. Also worth noting in MLB.com's comments, "He has always been a good defender at third base thanks to his athleticism, strong arm and soft hands."