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Diamondbacks make it or break it prospects for 2017

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Prospects in the Diamondbacks system that need a strong 2017 season in order to continue climbing up the ranks or establish themselves as contributors at the MLB level.

The Diamondbacks system lacks few impact prospects and the more talented prospects are farther away and really unable to help the team in the next four seasons. However, the system does have a few players that with a strong season can elevate their chances of being a big league regular. You can make the case that every prospect in the system qualifies under this, that’s the idea of developing prospects. What I will mainly focus on is 40-man guys who have struggled to adjust to the majors and higher-end prospects that are starting to get on the wrong side of the age curve (Class A 22, High-A 23, AA 24, AAA 25, MLB 26 on Opening Day).

OF Socrates Brito: Brito only has one option year left after using one in each of the last two years. Brito struggled with getting consistent playing time in the outfield for the first month, got sent back to Reno, came back in June and broke his foot about a week later. The result of those events was a lost year in development that could have been well-spent in AAA or MLB. Now Brito faces a tough slate of competition featuring former top prospect Reymond Fuentes and Giants 4th OF Gregor Blanco. Brito’s defense and baserunning give the team a lot of value, but he needs to find more consistent ways to reach base in order to maximize his value. I’m still very high on him, given my #3 ranking on him and the top position player distinction. I think he can develop into a regular corner or a very good 4th OF.

LHP Alex Young: Young hasn’t developed as quick as we’d like and the lack of a 3rd pitch could handicap his ceiling to a reliever as opposed to a starter. An injury plus a bad stint in the California League slowed down his development to a point where he’s at least a year behind Clarke. Young has a fringe-average fastball that complements an above-average slider, but the change-up has been virtually non-existent. Young will be a bit on the older side in Visalia, but a strong 2017 will put him back on track with the age curve. I have Young ranked 5th on my prospect list, but that may be a bit generous on my part.

RHP Ryan Burr: Burr struggled with injuries in what was supposed to be a fast-moving year for him. After a dominant summer debut, Burr struggled to get and stay on the field, which has put him behind the development curve a bit. Burr probably starts 2017 in Kane County, a level when he’s healthy he should dominate, and should be Visalia by midseason. The real challenge will be once he gets to that level, since I compare Pac-12 play to the California League in terms of difficulty. Coming out of a Pac-12 school that shall not be named, Burr should have a pretty good idea of how to handle those environments a bit. Burr doesn’t have the same ceiling as Jake Barrett or Jimmie Sherfy, but could wind up setting the table for them to close in the future. Burr ranks 28th on my list.

2B Jamie Westbrook: Westbrook already had to deal with the problem of Drury skipping ahead of him at 2B, but also now has to worry about two more superior prospects blocking him. Westbrook was high on my list for a strong season in the California League, but struggled adjusting to the Southern League. Westbrook is 21 years old and in the upper minors, so time is on his side. However, what is not on his side is his fringe-average tool set across the board. As Taylor Clarke told me, doesn’t matter what number is on a list, it’s about being able to produce and climb up the ranks. Westbrook can still impress at AA, especially with a move to a more hitter friendly stadium. Given fringe power, he needs to show the ability to draw walks and good bat control in order to maximize his offensive value since I’m assuming defense and baserunning are going to be break-even at best. Westbrook is 26th on the list.