Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects list was unveiled recently and the Dbacks placed just 2 prospects on it. Braden Shipley appeared at number 24 and Archie Bradley showed at number 84. It's no real surprise that the Dbacks lack names on the list as several former Dbacks were included such as Dansby Swanson at 13, Aaron Blair at 39, and Touki Toussaint at 80. Here's the link to the list, though it is an ESPN Insider article so you can't see it without a subscription.
So less than a year ago the Dbacks had 5 of the Top 100 and now have just 2. I feel strongly that Jamie Westbrook should be included as there are a lot of names on the list I would NOT trade Westbrook for. I don't think the Dbacks have any other prospects that are being slighted by not being included so that's my only beef with the list. Though it's no secret how strongly I feel about Westbrook compared to many others.
Law also rates the Dbacks farm system number 24 out of 30, not very good obviously. Our team does have some breakout candidates who could work their way into contention such as Socrates Brito, Silvino Bracho, Taylor Clarke, Cody Reed and Alex Young. But they'll need to make pretty big moves to vault onto the list while Brito and Bracho are likely major leaguers this year and will exhaust their rookie status sooner than later.
Bradley's status as one of the top prospects in baseball has plummeted dramatically with his somewhat disastrous 2015. He can't be written off yet obviously but his future is more in doubt than ever. This is a borderline make-or-break season for him.
Law speaks highly of Shipley's future and rates him a possible #2 starter based on his strong second half in 2015 that saw a fixed mechanical flaw get him back on track. He's still a little concerned about his fastball which he says is too often flat and up in the zone, but if he can stay on top of it then he should be fine. Shipley is probably first in line for a rotation spot after Greinke, Shelby, Corbin, Ray and RDLR if any of them falter or get injured, provided he gets off to a good start in 2016. Bradley is in that conversation as well.
I think Westbrook could find himself on the list soon if he hits in the pitching-heavy Southern League anything like he did in the California League. He's the ultimate sleeper prospect that the national guys haven't gotten wind of yet. The national pundits spoke highly of Isan Diaz when he got traded with Law even calling him our #4 prospect. So why he doesn't think the same of Westbrook who is only a year older and two levels higher is beyond me.
The future of our farm organization isn't likely to change anytime soon with the loss of our first round pick in 2016 and the trading away of one of our competitive balance picks. They're going to have to HIT on a few picks for this to change so we'll see how this years's draft shakes out. And, if the team is competitive over the next three years we're not likely to get any high draft picks in the near future.
So, there's not a lot of sunshine to report on the farmhand front overall but guys like Westbrook and Diaz weren't high first rounders or anything so-fast rising prospects can still be found and injected into the system without relying on high draft picks to do so. Regularly competitive organizations often use their farm strength to build the major league roster so it wouldn't be entirely fair to say the future is being mortgaged completely as a "win-now" strategy though it does look that way on the surface.
There's a lot of work to be done in any case to rebuild the farm system and the tools and picks to do so don't exist, so good luck to our scouting staff to do what they can to overcome that.