The Diamondbacks farm system has seen a bit more improvement the past couple seasons, most of it felt in the bottom parts of the system. In two years, the Diamondbacks have made major improvements in the international free agent market along with getting higher upside players in the draft. The first wave of prospects are on the cusp of the majors, with RHP Jon Duplantier already debuting earlier this week. The consensus Top 3 prospects (Duplantier, Taylor Widener, Jazz Chisholm) are all likely to debut this season as part of that first wave, with a second group of players coming from a potential franchise-changing 2018 draft not too far behind.
Related: Michael’s Top 30 List
AAA Reno Aces (Pacific Coast League)
Prospects to Watch: RHP Jon Duplantier, RHP Taylor Widener, RHP Taylor Clarke, 2B Domingo Leyba, 1B Kevin Cron
40-Man: RHP Jon Duplantier, RHP Jimmie Sherfy, LHP Robby Scott, C Caleb Joseph, RHP Joel Payamps, RHP Taylor Clarke, 1B Kevin Cron, 2B Domingo Leyba, RHP Joey Krehbiel, INF Ildemaro Vargas, OF Tim Locastro
Michael: Duplantier, Clarke, Widener, and Cron are MLB-ready prospects, but are currently blocked by other players. Given the likely amount of injuries to occur to a starting rotation over the course of the season, Clarke and Widener are both likely to make their MLB debuts. Duplantier ended up starting the season on the MLB roster due to a need in the bullpen for a long man, and looked solid in his first ever MLB appearance. He’ll likely spend most of the year in Reno for both service time manipulation and when the team needs to stretch him out into a full-time starter for his second stint with the team. Cron would be one of the first infielders available in case of an injury or if the team wants to call up an extra bat when they travel to an American League ballpark for DH purposes.
Wesley: There’s a very nice core of prospects here that are already ready for the majors leagues, but are blocked, or are should be ready for the major leagues by the end of the season. Between Taylor Clarke, Taylor Widener, the already promoted Jon Duplantier and recently demoted Ildemaro Vargas, Kevin Cron, Domino Leyba, Joel Payamps, and Kevin Ginkel, pretty much all of these guys could be average to above average players on a major league roster, if not now, in the very near future. Not much else I can add that Michael hasn’t already said.
AA Jackson Generals (Southern League)
Prospects to Watch: RHP Emilio Vargas, SS Jazz Chisholm, 1B Pavin Smith, 3B Drew Ellis, C Dominic Miroglio, C Daulton Varsho, OF Marcus Wilson, RHP Matt Peacock, RHP Kevin Ginkel, 2B Andy Young
MLB 40-Man Roster Players: RHP Emilio Vargas, RHP Bo Takahashi
Michael: This group of position players consists of the team’s next core, so if you’re a Dbacks fan living in the western part of Tennessee you’ll want to watch these guys. In fact, the position player prospects could be the starting infield come 2022 before the second wave of prospects in A ball currently catch up. Chisholm has superstar potential while Smith, Ellis, Varsho, and Young project to be MLB regulars although more in the average to above-average starter tier (2-4 WAR/600 PA by my definition). Vargas projects as a potential #4/5 starter with a strong fastball/slider combination although lacks a consistent 3rd pitch. Takahashi isn’t listed as a top prospect, but the organization sees something in him with a Fall League stint and giving him a 40-man roster spot. His future isn’t likely in the rotation, but given his already solid control numbers could excel in a potential middle innings role in the ballclub a year or two down the road.
In regards to the catcher situation, the Generals have 3 catchers on their roster, so it looks like the team could be looking at working Varsho at other positions to keep his bat in the lineup since the DH is gone at this level. Matt Peacock is an interesting prospect and a bit of a late-bloomer as he had a strong 2018 season in terms of peripherals. Peacock has excellent control numbers and an elite ground ball rate thanks to a quality sinker, but gave up a few more hits than he should have (9.0 H/9 in 2018) and struggled to pitch out of jams (.295 and .286 opponent batting average w/ RISP at his 2 stops). Peacock does have the potential of a swingman in the bullpen if he can figure out that problem. Ginkel will be starting the year in AA, although I think that’s so they can get him consistent high-leverage outings and a chance to pitch in the MLB bullpen later in the year. His video game numbers from the 2018 season from start to end got him noticed and it will be interesting to see if he can repeat it. From a talent standpoint, this is the most loaded roster the team’s had at the AA level and also the most prospect heavy of any level in the system.
Wesley: This is the future of the team right here. As Michael briefly touched on, Jazz Chisholm has the highest ceiling out of all these players, and he’s also one of the youngest on the team, he’s only gotten better as he’s gotten older. Daulton Varsho is another very exciting player, especially if he can stick behind the plate. Drew Ellis is a potential above average corner infielder.
Class A-Advanced Visalia Rawhide (California League)
Prospects to Watch: OF Jake McCarthy, C Renae Martinez, 1B Yoel Yanqui
Michael: For the first time in about 4 years, the Rawhide don’t have a great prospect group going up, but they do have a couple solid prospects there. McCarthy was the organization’s top signed draft pick from the previous draft and typically prospects of his pedigree skip regular A ball. McCarthy’s plus speed, plate discipline, and contact skills gives him a high floor as a potential CF who brings value with the glove and on the bases with the potential for more power down the road. Martinez is a bat-first catcher who despite his age has hit at every stop. The organization tends to value the defensive side of catching a bit more than the offensive side, which could mean a position change or Martinez ends up with another organization as a trade chip.
As an extra note, keep an eye on Visalia manager Shawn Roof as a future MLB coach and eventual manager. Roof is a former utility player who washed out of the minors in 6 seasons (2007-2012) and eventually turned to coaching. He’s only 34, but a rising star in the organization from an on-field manager standpoint. After getting his first managerial job with Hillsboro in 2017, Roof has managed the Hops to back-to-back Northwest League North Division titles. In those two seasons, he’s managed a significant chunk of the players listed on this farm system preview and in fact will be managing at least one of those players in Visalia (McCarthy).
Wesley: There’s honestly not much I can add here that Michael didn’t cover.
Class A Kane County Cougars (Midwest League)
Prospects to Watch: OF Alek Thomas, SS Geraldo Perdomo, C Andy Yerzy, RHP Jackson Goddard, OF Kristian Robinson, RHP Ryan Weiss, OF Eduardo Diaz
Michael: Thomas and Robinson represent two more chances for the team to find a superstar-level talent, as they’ve shown to be more advanced than their 2018 ages (18 and 17 respectively) would suggest and each player offers quite the impressive skill set at the plate and in the field. Perdomo has been a fast-riser in the system, continuing to turn heads with quality production in all areas thanks to an excellent baseball IQ. Two of the top three pitchers from the 2018 draft class are on the roster with Goddard (3rd) and Weiss (4th) joining Thomas. Goddard has three above average pitches (FB, SL, CH) but poor command while Weiss is a tall and lanky hurler with a good FB/CH combo without a reliable breaking ball. Yerzy has been brought along slowly in the early stages of his development as a catcher, but should be ready for a full season test with strong numbers and peripherals in the Northwest League last season. His bat may necessitate a move off the position in the future, although it’s also contingent on at least two of Carson Kelly, Varsho, and Miroglio establishing the catcher position.
Wesley: Not much else I can add that Michael hasn’t already said. Kristian Robinson is the guy to really keep an eye out of all these guys, as I haven’t heard of anyone walking away having seen him not be impressed. In a conversation I had with his Bahamian countryman Jazz Chisholm, Chisholm spoke very highly of the young Robinson. Andy Yerzy is another I’d keep an eye on this season.
Projected Full-Season Prospects not listed on any MiLB or MLB Roster: RHP Matt Tabor, RHP Matt Mercer, SS Blaze Alexander
Michael: I have no idea if both Tabor and Mercer are sitting out due to injuries or not, but the latter’s exclusion is more puzzling considering his success in Hillsboro last season. Tabor and Mercer both have middle of the rotation starters are their projected ceilings, so I can’t imagine they left them out simply because they couldn’t fit them into Kane County’s rotation. Alexander is not listed, although the reason behind that is much more clear. I believe it could be related to the broken hand he suffered early in Spring Training when hit by a pitch. Alexander was scheduled to start the year in Kane County otherwise. I imagine he’ll start the year in extended Spring Training in order to make sure he can swing the bat and play defense effectively before the team cuts him loose to Kane County.