The Minor League season has just begun and the Diamondbacks affiliates have played their first games of the season. The team has a lot of C+ prospects at the top of the system, but has a handful of gems down in the lower portion of the system. I’d say overall the Diamondbacks’ farm system lacks a lot of impact starter potential, especially near the top, but is littered with back-end starters, relievers, average regulars, and bench guys at almost every level. It will be interesting to see how some of these guys develop over the course of a 140+ game minor league season.
Here’s the team’s prospects from my Top 30 list that will be on Opening Day rosters in the full season affiliate teams.
Reno Aces (AAA): RHP Taylor Clarke, RHP Jimmie Sherfy, LHP Jared Miller, OF Socrates Brito, INF Ildemaro Vargas, 1B Kevin Cron (DL), 1B/OF Christian Walker.
No surprises for the Reno assignments, with only Clarke and Cron off the 40-man roster today. Miller joins those two as the only prospects without some kind of MLB experience in the past. From this group of prospects, Clarke is the only guy that could be a regular starter before 2020. We should see a lot of these names in a Dbacks uniform this season as depth/reinforcements for injuries.
Jackson Generals (AA): RHP Jon Duplantier (DL), RHP Taylor Widener, SS Domingo Leyba (DL), RHP Yoan Lopez, RHP Ryan Atkinson, LHP Colin Poche
Duplantier’s clean bill of health in 2017 will not carry into 2018, as a hamstring injury will delay the start of his year. After a successful season with the Yankees A-Advanced affiliate in Tampa, Widener will get the jump to AA. Leyba has possible average starting 2B/SS upside in the future, although 2017 was a lost year in terms of development although he’s still on the good side of the age curve and could debut later this year. Lopez and Atkinson both have something to prove in AA, especially the former, to solidify their status as a prospect. I think Lopez has Archie Bradley upside as a reliever. Poche is another interesting arm for the pen as well with a plus breaking ball to go with a low 90s heater.
Visalia Rawhide (A-Adv): 1B Pavin Smith, C Daulton Varsho, OF Marcus Wilson, 3B Drew Ellis, OF Anfernee Grier
This will be the one Dbacks affiliate to watch with 4 Top 10 prospects on the field and 5 players that could be on the team’s Opening Day lineup in 2021. Dbacks are putting Smith, Varsho, and Ellis on the fast track, which isn’t too surprising given their offensive profiles. Visalia shouldn’t be too difficult a challenge given their strong performances at the collegiate level. Wilson’s steady progress up the ladder continues although in the hitter friendly Cal League could put up some eye-popping numbers offensively. Grier has the least intriguing profile, but we may see a resurgence in power numbers to complement a game that’s heavily dependent on speed, OBP ability, and defense.
Kane County Cougars (A): SS Jazz Chisholm, LHP Mack Lemieux, RHP Brian Shaffer
Chisholm and Lemieux are repeating the Midwest League and Shaffer will get his first taste of full season ball. Chisholm is coming off surgery to repair a torn meniscus, so there are concerns about his value as a prospect moving forward. Lemieux is a fringe prospect with a decent Fastball profile, but poor secondaries. Shaffer is interesting if he can develop a change-up with the upside of a #4, but has the possible projection of a long/middle relief guy.
For players that could make an impact on the 2018 team, I’d look at the mix of players in AAA. Walker, Sherfy, Miller, Reinheimer, and Vargas are on the 40-man roster with Clarke and Cron as potential call-ups during the season if injuries necessitate that. From AA, Duplantier, Leyba, and Lopez are dark horse candidates for a call-up, especially Lopez who is very similar to Dbacks ace reliever Archie Bradley.