I guess we should now add Peter O'Brien to this section, with the announcement - via the Reno Aces' Twitter feed earlier today - that he has now given up on catching, and become a full-time outfielder. Though, personally, I'm more concerned about the position he leaves barren, than adding another to our ever-growing stockpile of outfield sluggers. With Ender Inciarte, David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Yasmany Tomas, all apparently with the team for the long haul, even discounting O'Brien, it would seem anyone trying to break through from the farm in the near future would need to offer something special. Let's see who is occupying the outfield at each of our four levels.
Trayvon Robinson - September 1, 1987 (minor league free-agent) -.274/.358/.417
Had some decent playing time as a fourth outfielder in Seattle for 2011-12, but was traded to Baltimore at the end of the year, and hasn't made it back to the show since. After leaving the O's, Robinson has bounced around on a tour of the NL West, spending time before us with Los Angeles, the team who originally drafted him, and spent spring training with San Diego. A switch-hitter, he has been better as a left-handed bat, with an OPS there close to .800, but that still isn't great by Reno standards.
Garrett Weber - March 29, 1989 (22nd round, 2011) - .318/.386/.432
Weber made a big impact last year after his promotion to Reno, batting .353 with a .958 OPS, but has not lived up to those numbers in 2015, with his power output falling short. He was an infielder coming up, and didn't play the outfield before arriving in Triple-A. He has seen some time at second and first, but has primarily played in left-field for the Aces this season. No immediate opening for him, but if the team makes a trade...
Todd Glaesmann - October 24, 1990 (from Rays for Heath Bell) - .276/.301/.561
You may be forgiven for forgetting we got a player in that trade - you'd think "not having Heath Bell" would be sufficient return. But after "unretiring" from baseball, Glaesmann is with his third team of the year already, having begun in Visalia where he hit .419 with four HR in seven games. That got him up to Mobile, and despite an underwhelming line of .167/.206/.250 with the BayBears, he was promoted to Reno on Friday. Catcher Matt Pagnozzi also went back up, as a replacement for Salty, with another OF, Nick Buss coming off the DL,
Evan Marzilli - March 13, 1991 (8th round, 2012) - .300/.300/.400
Just a mention of Marzilli, who was a name that was mentioned in spring training a fair bit, and was called our best defensive outfielder by Baseball America over the winter. Unfortunately, after hitting an even .300 in his first nine games for Reno, Marzilli suffered a nasty sprain of his ankle on April 18, and has been out of action since. There's no word of his return at this point.
Socrates Brito - September 6, 1992 (international free-agent) - .273/.289/.377
The man with the best name in our farm system can't take a walk to save himself, with just a handful in his 190 plate-appearances so far. He never showed that much plate discipline at the lower levels - 6-7% - but down below 3% is something that's going to have to change if he's going to progress any higher. Though since Brito is still 22 years old, and young for the level, so if he needs to repeat Double-A next year, and learn not to swing at everything, it wouldn't be the end of the world.
Alex Glenn - June 11, 1991 (12th round, 2012) - .266/.331/.483
Glenn spent the winter down under, playing in the Australian Baseball League for the Sydney Blue Sox, and has had a solid start for Mobile, after spending last year at Visalia. He made an immediate impression, getting four hits and five RBI in his debut, then driving in three the next day. He's only managed ten more RBI over the 41 games he has playe din since, but Glenn has lowered his strikeout rate, from 22% last year to 17% this.
Mitch Haniger - December 23, 1990 (from Brewers for Gerardo Parra) - .262/.325/.359
Haniger was excited to leave Milwaukee at the trade deadline last season, given the Brewers' outfield appeared solidly occupied for the foreseeable future. At the time, manager Andy Green said Haniger had "plus power to the pull side", but that has not apparently been demonstrated this season, with the outfielder still awaiting his first home-run with Mobile, in what's now a total of 46 games and 147 PA for the BayBears. That OPS needs to go up to impress his way higher.
Zach Borenstein - July 23, 1990 (from Angels for Thatcher/Campana) - .265/.319/.394
After a week in Mobile, Borenstein was moved up to Reno, the third time he had been promoted to Triple-A in the past year. But this time didn't go very well, and after 18 games with the Aces resulted in a triple-slash of .154/.170/.192, he was returned to the BayBears. He has continued to hit well in Double-A, though a BABIP of over .400 is likely a significant factor. He hit for the cycle on May 16, repeating a feat he performed the previous season on April 20, when still an Angel.
Tom Belza - July 31, 1989 (43rd round, 2010) - .241/.299/.383
I think there's something awesome about a man chosen with the 1,291st pick of the draft, still making his way through the farm system, Belza was promoted from Mobile the first week of May, after hitting .295/.340/.500 there, but like Borenstein, didn't have much success. In 14 games with the Aces, went 6-for-37, with a .451 OPS, and so was shipped back down to Double-A in time for the weekend. Last September, Green spoke highly of him: "He draws walks, has quality at-bats and makes pitchers work. He's the epitome of a team player." Also pitched in a game earlier this year, getting a one-pitch out.
Breland Almadova - October 18, 1990 (37th round, 2012) - .293/.387/.390
Currently tied with team-mate Palka for most SB in the D-backs farm system with 12, I guess making him our own Flyin' Hawaiian... Though Almadova has eight CS to Palka's two. Almadova's 23 walks are also near the top, trailing only Jamie Romak's 24, and that, along with a .368 BABIP, has helped him put up some good numbers out of the lead-off spot for the Rawhide. He was also named the Rawling Minor League Gold Glover at center-field last year. Not bad given his lowly draft slot.
Daniel Palka - October 28, 1991 (3rd round, 2013) - .299/.365/.515
Another college bat, the left handed Daniel Palka has just mashed since being drafted out of Georgia Tech. While drafted as a 1st baseman, he's played 30 games in the OF compared to only 9 at 1st since being moved up to Visalia. The position switch hasn't done any damage to his bat however, as he's close to a .900 OPS. If he gets a call to Mobile this year and continues to hit there, might he contend for a bench job in 2016?
Chuck Taylor - September 21, 1993 (4th round, 2012) - 250/.316/.327
The 21-year-old got little more than a cup of coffee with Kane County at the start of the year, hitting, in five of his six games there, before moving up to Visalia. He has struggled a bit at the higher level, with a triple-slash of .240/.315/.326, and has also been caught stealing six times in nine attempts. Work in progress, it's safe to say.
Stewart Ijames - August 21, 1988 (independent baseball signing) - .302/.372/.610
That .982 OPS is the highest outside of the Reno launch-site [Dorn and O'Brien are in the four-digit club], and Ijames's dozen homers tied for the prospect lead. However, his 56 strikeouts are also the most in the farm system, though a 10% walk-rate is decent. Ijames - it's pronounced Iams, like the pet-food - was actually drafted twice, but didn't sign, saying, "I just didn't think I was ready. It wasn't my time yet." He made his way through indy ball, with the wonderfully-named Washington Wild Things instead.
A-ball Kane County
Colin Bray - June 18, 1993 (6th round, 2012) - .270/.343/.362
Last season was all but lost for Bray, after running into the right-field wall for a fly-ball in the first half of April. He made the catch, but broke his foot, not what you want for a prospect whose calling card is his speed. However, Colin seems have recovered. He's also working on switch-hitting, something he took up relatively late in life, not long before he was drafted. So far, the results have been much better right-handed (.934 OPS) than left (.641).
Victor Reyes - October 5, 1994 (from Braves for #75 pick) - .301/.306/.364
I think Reyes is the result of the first time Arizona traded away a draft pick. Still young, raw, and refuses to take a walk: he has two in 149 plate-appearances so far. With no home-runs either, he likely possesses the emptiest .300 batting average in our system. It's a bit of a surprise, since with Atlanta at the same level last year, Reyes's K:BB ratio was a non-disastrous 58:24, rather than 22:2. Not sure what's up, but it needs to be fixed if we're not to start wondering whether we can still ask for our draft pick back.
Grant Heyman - November 7, 1993 (8th round, 2014) - .273/.333/.403
Signed mostly for his power, Heyman had a very solid rookie season with Hillsboro in 2014, batting .315 with five homers in 57 games. The batting average has dropped a bit this season for the Cougars, but balancing out some of that, Heyman has already walked more than he did all last year. Needs to do better against left-handed pitching, where he has only three hits, all singles, in 28 at-bats.
Ryan Hutchinson - December 21, 1989 (independent baseball signing) - .204/.250/.265
In September last year, the Diamondbacks went on a spree of indy ball deals, signing eight players from the Frontier and Can-Am leagues. Scanning the names, I think Hutchinson is the only one currently with the four farm teams; the others may show up when Hillsboro and Missoula get going. Ryan started off brightly, with three multi-hit games in his first four, but since then, is just 4-for-34 with one walk and 11 strikeouts. Small sample, but seems a long shot.