The 5th and final installment of the midseason prospect list will include notable relief pitcher prospects as well as a final Top 30 list underneath that. When I mention reliever prospects, I don’t mean starters that could end up converting into relievers, I mean pitchers that are already relievers now. The first four lists included starting pitchers, catchers, infielders, and outfielders.
- Jackson RHP Yoan Lopez: Lopez has been a disappointment since the Dbacks spent $16M to sign him in 2015. After years of poor performance, injuries, and going AWOL at times, Lopez’s head is finally on straight and has moved to a reliever role. From there, he’s throwing upper 90s with an overpowering 4-seam fastball (ask Ryan Mountcastle) that touched 97 in the Future’s Game and has that extra gear to make it a truly special pitch (70-75 grade heater). He complements the heater with a mid 80s slider as his main secondary pitch vs. right-handed hitters. RHH have hit .185 against him with a 44/8 K/BB ratio, which means at the minimum he should develop into a back-end arm that sees a lot of right-on-right matchups. Depending on how well the slider develops, could turn into the next Archie Bradley. Comparing the top reliever prospect to the most consistent MLB reliever in the organization is probably not fair, but there are some similarities as both are converted starters with high 90s heat and a devastating breaking ball. Archie’s curve is a bit more refined than Lopez’s slider. Lopez could be a key addition to the bullpen the next couple seasons.
- Reno RHP Jimmie Sherfy: Sherfy’s scoreless streak at the MLB level (regular season) came to an end this year, but he’s still putting up solid numbers in Reno. The inconsistencies that have plagued him for most of his professional baseball career are still there and at times will show up in games, but he’s posting a 1.57 ERA in Reno. His upside isn’t anywhere near where Yoan Lopez’s is, but he has the established floor of a useful reliever and with 2 option years remaining could be part of the Reno shuttle. The inconsistencies may keep him from developing into a true back-end reliever although when he’s on, he can be that type of guy for small stretches.
- Jackson RHP Wei-Chieh Huang: Huang is another converted starter whose stuff has ticked way up after a move to the bullpen. Despite battling injuries and a reduction in role, Huang has taken a big step forward this year. After starting the year in Visalia, he was promoted to Jackson about a month ago. Over the season to date, Huang has pitched to a 2.18 ERA in 53 2⁄3 IP with 74 strikeouts vs. 22 walks over 27 appearances. For Jackson, his numbers are a 1.61 ERA in 22 1⁄3 IP with 28 Ks and 6 walks. Huang seems to be destined to take on the Randall Delgado role in the bullpen, or a bridge role from starter to the back-end of the bullpen. Huang’s strong pitchability marks fare well in that part of his game as he has the stuff to handle lineups a 2nd time through. Huang may prove to be the most useful player of all the reliever prospects.
- Reno LHP Jared Miller: I have no idea what happened to Jared Miller this year, but the numbers are just plain ugly. After dominating both Jackson and Reno last year, Miller has struggled to a 5.94 ERA with 48 walks vs. 40 strikeouts in 36 1⁄3 innings pitched. With those numbers on the season, there’s no way the team calls him up despite a heavy LH reliever need for the MLB club. I’m not sure if there’s a mechanical error in his delivery that causes his command to go bad or if there’s an undiagnosed injury with the arm we don’t know about that he’s pitching through, but given a previous track record of dominance as a reliever, something is wrong here. I still have him on the list due to 2 years of dominance vs. 1 year of poor play and Miller’s proximity to the MLB club.
Fringe Prospects: RHP Kevin Ginkel, RHP Tommy Eveld, RHP Tyler Mark, RHP Jake Barrett, RHP Joey Krehbiel
Of the list of fringe prospects, the most interesting guys are Ginkel, Eveld, and Mark. All three players opened up the year in Visalia. Ginkel got a midseason promotion to Jackson while Eveld and Mark are easily crushing the younger competition in the California League. Ginkel and Eveld have excellent strikeout to walk rates on the year while Mark also has back-end potential with 2 plus pitches (mid 90s fastball, split-change). Krehbiel was recently added to the Dbacks’ 40 man roster as a guy who serve as bullpen depth alongside Barrett and Sherfy. The organization does have a bit of a logjam for their minor league back-end relievers with Sherfy, Bracho, Krehbiel, and Barrett for Reno (occasionally one gets called up) then Lopez, Huang, and Ginkel in Jackson, so Mark and Eveld haven’t been able to get promotions to AA even though it’s 1000% clear that the Cal League isn’t a challenge for them.
Ranking the named prospects:
- RHSP Jon Duplantier, DL (biceps)
- RHSP Taylor Widener, Jackson Generals (AA)
- C Daulton Varsho, DL (right wrist)
- 1B Pavin Smith, Visalia Rawhide (High A)
- SS Jazz Chisholm, Visalia Rawhide
- RHSP Taylor Clarke, Reno Aces (AAA)
- 3B Drew Ellis, Visalia Rawhide
- OF Kristian Robinson, AZL Dbacks (Rookie)
- RHSP Emilio Vargas, Visalia Rawhide
- OF Jake McCarthy, Hillsboro Hops (Short A)
- C Andy Yerzy, Hillsboro Hops
- 2B Domingo Leyba, Jackson Generals
- OF Marcus Wilson, Visalia Rawhide
- OF Socrates Brito, Reno Aces
- OF Gabriel Maciel, Kane County Cougars (A)
- RHSP Brian Shaffer, Kane County Cougars
- RHRP Yoan Lopez, Jackson Generals
- OF Alek Thomas, AZL Dbacks
- 1B Kevin Cron, Reno Aces
- RHSP Jose Almonte, DL (arm)
- C Michael Perez, Reno Aces
- RHRP Jimmie Sherfy, Reno Aces
- OF Eduardo Diaz, DL
- RHSP Matt Tabor, Hillsboro Hops
- RHRP Wei-Chieh Huang, Jackson Generals
- RHSP Jackson Goddard, Hillsboro Hops
- SS Geraldo Perdomo, AZL Dbacks
- OF Anfernee Grier, DL
- SS Blaze Alexander, AZL Dbacks
- LHP Tyler Holton, DL (Tommy John)
- C Dominic Miroglio, Visalia Rawhide