Dynasty: Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2020 Preseason Top 50 Prospects

Jamie Sayer reviews his top 50 Arizona Diamondbacks Prospects.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have restocked their farm system after what seemed like years of having a mediocre prospect pool (the worst in 2017 by an MLB insider). Gone are the days of Dave Stewart stripping the farm system trying to win to mediocre results. In comes Mike Hazen, who has done a pretty good job so far accumulating interesting prospects.

Bats headline the top of the system but they’ve also got some intriguing arms you can dream on. In the end, this system more than likely ends up in the top five of MLB, thanks partially to having SEVEN selections within the first 75 picks in the 2019 MLB draft. Tons of upside fills the Diamondbacks system, and I’m excited to talk about them.

Note: These Top 50 lists are all done through a fantasy baseball-focused lens. Many players who are ranked higher or lower on other platforms will get a boost here. For example, players who profile as middle relievers or glove-first infielders likely won’t have much fantasy relevance, so they won’t be ranked as highly. 

 

1. Kristian Robinson, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: A

ETA: Late 2021 / Early 2022

I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to say Kristian Robinson is a fantasy star in the making, reaching full-season ball at the age of 18 and performing well. He was signed out of the Bahamas in 2017 and instantly had scouts attention, showcasing a ton of raw power already for his age. He stands at 6’3″ and weighs approximately 190-210 pounds depending where you look, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility he adds more muscle and hopefully more power. He’s fast and agile for his size, stealing 17 bases total last year and played primarily center-field thanks to this. He will more than likely end up in a corner outfield as he ages. Jason Pennini (of Prospects Live) had this to say about his swing last February:

An evaluator remarked Robinson looks a bit stationary and flat-footed in his base stance; I think it works for him. Small load, short stride, direct path to the ball. They are simple, clean mechanics that allow his immense strength to play up without the expense of contact.

This will allow him to make consistent hard-contact and will have an average or above-hit tool. While he had some great exit-velocity numbers he only hit  27.9% of his balls for fly balls, so hopefully, he can lift that off the ground a bit more to tap into his raw power. He also has a higher strikeout rate but is willing to take a walk. With some growth and improvement, he should be able to place himself into the top 10 prospects in baseball and I adore the upside he has.

 

2. Alek Thomas, OF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: A+

ETA: Late 2021 / Early 2022

One of the quickest risers on prospect lists from the ’18 MLB draft, Alek Thomas reminds me a lot of AJ Pollock. He dropped from the first to the second round of the MLB draft due to concerns about his ability to hit for power and the Diamondbacks happily selected him 63rd overall.

Son of Chicago White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas (who is a big man), Alek has hit every stop he’s made in the minors. Having hit above .310 in every stop except his brief stop in High A (in which he was almost three years younger than the average player), Thomas has been lauded for having a 60-grade hit tool and is able to spray the ball to all fields. He “already has average raw at age 19” and while he’ll never be a masher, he should be able to contribute 10-15 HRs while hitting a ton of doubles. He’s got speed to be able to turn doubles into triples and should be able to steal 15-20 bases a year. Thomas is one of my favourite prospects as the floor seems much higher with him and the upside is a top 24 outfielder.

 

3. Dalton Varsho, C

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020 / Early 2021

Catchers are very hard to trust for dynasty purposes, as they tend to take way too long to develop and can become stagnant. Dalton Varsho could be one of the difference makers for fantasy, however, if he is able to stay on the position.

Drafted in the comp round of the 2017 draft Varsho has slowly progressed through the Diamondbacks minors and might be able to make his major league debut this year. In AA this year he almost had a 20/20 year hitting .301/.378/.520 line with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases, showcasing 60-grade speed which is rare for a catcher. While he’s been used almost strictly as a catcher coming up, he did get four games as a center fielder in ’19 as his defence behind the plate is lacking. He could end up becoming a multi-position player that starts behind the plate once in a while (like Austin Barnes, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, etc) which would be the ideal outcome for him in my eyes. While I wanted to place him 4th I just couldn’t push aside the chances he’s a top 10 catcher in the future and that has value.

 

4. Geraldo Perdomo, SS

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A+

ETA: Late 2021 / Early 2022

One of my favourite risers from the past year, Geraldo Perdomo seems like a high floor fantasy prospect with a surprisingly high ceiling as well. Perdomo started his professional career in rookie ball and walked 21.6% of the time (yes that’s right, not a typo). This just had to be from rookie level pitchers having little control, right?

Perdomo would prove his plate recognition was no fluke, as he would go on to post elite walk and strikeout rates the next two years in A/A+, walking more than he struck out in ’19. While the power has yet to emerge, he’s increased his exit-velocity at each stop he’s made, so it’s improving slowly. He has some speed to his game as well, chipping in 26 total steals in ’19 and could become a top of the order bat that gets on-base, steals bases and a ton of runs. He should start 2020 in A+ or maybe AA and it wouldn’t be out of the question that if he hits he’s in the majors late in the year or early 2021.

 

5. Corbin Carroll, OF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-

ETA: Late 2021 / Early 2022

Arizona’s top pick from the ’19 draft, Corbin Carroll reminds me a lot of AJ Pollock with more speed. Huh, that sounds familiar. Carroll was drafted 16th overall as one of the top prep bats and showed why in his initial taste to professional ball, having a .859 OPS in rookie league then a .990 OPS in his brief A-ball stint.

While he currently has a swing geared for line drives, he did hit the crap out of the ball, having a .256 ISO in the A-ball stint and hopefully will be able to transform it into hitting more flyballs. His speed is plus-plus, having stolen 18 bases in 186 plate appearances which using simple math tells me if you multiply that by three (around an average PA threshold for a season) he could steal 54 bases. He more than likely sticks in center field thanks to this speed and could become a top 50 guy if he continues hitting the way he has so far.

 

6. Corbin Martin, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already has, but 2021 thanks to TJ

Acquired from the Houston Astros in the Zack Greinke deal, Corbin Martin is a perfect example of what the Astros typically look for in their pitchers (trackman friendly qualities). He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Astros as he was only a part-time starter during his final year of college, but showed qualities the Astros liked including three pitches they felt they could make better. He converted to starting full-time in pro ball and has found his velocity has stayed steady.

While he’s currently recovering from Tommy-John he normally showcases four average to above-average pitchers in a fastball, a power-curveball, a much-improved slider and a changeup that induces a ton of weak contact. Martin is also known to have a fantastic mound-mentality and work ethic. He did make his major-league debut in 2019, starting five games for the Astros but was overmatched posting a 5.59 ERA and 7.6% K:BB%. Small sample size of course and the Diamondbacks will be happy to have Martin in their rotation as soon as 2021.

 

7. Seth Beer, 1B/OF

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

Seth Beer had a record-breaking freshman season at Clemson and unfortunately for him hasn’t been able to replicate the success he had there. This does’t mean he hasn’t been good in pro-ball however. He was drafted in the 1st round by the Houston Astros and was also acquired in the Zack Greinke deal.

While he’s probably better suited as a DH long-term, for the Diamondbacks he will have to play 1st base or the outfield (very poorly). He’s shown plus power so far during his pro-career and has been willing to take a walk, so that gives him a fairly safe floor. The average will never be amazing, having as low as a future 40-grade hit tool so it wouldn’t surprise me if he struggled to hit over .240. The strikeout rate is surprisingly good for a hitter of this mould, however, as he’s settled around 20% in the minors except his brief stop on the Diamondbacks AA team. It wouldn’t surprise me if Beer wasn’t a good real-life player, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up being like Justin Smoak for fantasy purposes.

 

8 Jon Duplantier, SP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already Arrived

2019 was an up-and-down year for Jon Duplantier, literally, as he shuttled back and forth between AAA and the majors often. Having been labelled as injury prone coming out of college (drafted 3rd round in 2015) he had been doing well to shake that until 2018 when he injured his hamstrings and had bicep tendinitis.

When healthy Duplantier features four pitches, three of them above average (Fastball, Slider and Changeup) and his fourth flashing average (curveball), Sadly this year his stuff took a step back (fastball sat 92-94 in 2018, this year sat more 91-93) and battled shoulder during the year. He’s got plus command when healthy but has battled control issues thanks to injuries (notice a theme?). While he still has mid-rotation upside it’s seeming like injuries will continue to be an issue for Duplantier, and in turn, limit his ceiling. While he’ll never have major strikeout upside he has the chance to post mid 3’s ERA while

 

9. Andy Young, MI

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2020

This might be my most aggressive ranking yet, but Andy Young just posted a .611 SLG in AAA for the Diamondbacks, so maybe he’s got something brewing for fantasy. Drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the 37th round (dang Devil Magic!) he came over in the Paul Goldschmidt trade that’s not looking too awful for the Diamondbacks.

Young is by position a 2nd baseman and has dabbled at shortstop and third-base so he could become a utility-tool for the Diamondbacks. Sadly, he doesn’t play any of them well. His defense won’t have to matter in today’s day and age as long as the bat continues to produce, which its looking like it might. Middle infielders that hit for power are seemingly always in demand, and Young last year slashed .280/.373/.611 with 21 HRs in just 68 AAA games. While this has to be taken with a grain of salt thanks to Reno’s HR-centric atmosphere, Young also produced well in AA and should be able to hit 20+ home runs in the majors. This year will make it or break it for him as he’s not getting any younger, and has a chance to become the Diamondbacks 2nd baseman.

 

10. Liover Peguero, SS

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

ETA: Late 2022 / Early 2023

A tall slender shortstop, Liover Peguero is another J2 signing the Diamondbacks have made recently that seems to be coming along quite nicely. Comped to a young Jean Segura, Peguero has quickly established himself as having one of the better hit tools in the system thanks to quick, strong hands which makes it hard to beat him with velocity. While his current swing has him cutting at the ball and producing mostly ground balls, his defence will help him reach the majors and the hit tool should help him become a plus average hitter. It wouldn’t surprise me if he does end up hitting 10-15 HRs in the majors, just it might be a couple of years down the line.

 

11. Pavin Smith, 1B

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

Pavin Smith has been a faller on prospect lists so far this year, as he doesn’t seem to be growing into the power many had hoped when drafted in the first round in 2017. Myself however, I see a player who walked almost as much as he struck out (0.97), increased his ISO from 2018 (.137 to .175) and was able to increase his flyable rate for the second year in a row. While power won’t be his game, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to hit 20 HR out in this current hitter-friendly environment and he plays a position that’s currently weak prospect wise. Smith I feel compares to Eric Hosmer well, which doesn’t sound exciting but is boringly good, and I’ll take that.

 

12. Kevin Cron, 3B

 

Age: 26

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already Arrived

Quite possibly an AAAA masher, Kevin Cron has destroyed AAA the last two years, this year hitting 36 home runs in only 86 games in 2019. Drafted in the 14th round all the way back in 2014, Cron has legit 70-grade power, as evident by his .311 ISO in his short MLB stint this year and helped by the fact he had an almost 50% fly-ball rate in AAA.

Unfortunately like most AAAA hitters, he seems to be a tad strikeout prone, posting a 21.3% swinging-strike rate (35% strikeout rate) in 31 games with the Diamondbacks this year. It’s a small sample size of course, as he’s never gotten a real chance to start every day in the majors. A cause for optimism is it was never that bad in the minors and even this year he had a 0.79 B:K ratio in AAA, giving hope he can figure it out. He’ll need an extended run in the majors to see if it is legit, but maybe we have another breakout hitter on our hands.

 

13. Matt Tabor, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2021

A third-round pick from the 2017 draft, Matt Tabor has so far shown elite control and decent strikeout stuff in pro-ball, posting a 22.5% K:BB rate. Showing three pitches that all-flash above-average, his best is his changeup flashing 60 grade and has enough separation between it and his fastball that it can get some ugly swings on it. He was able to get swings and misses while pounding the zone (69% zone rate and 15% swinging-strike rate) which is exactly what you want in a starter, however, I have worries about his long-term ability to start. His slider so far being fringe, looking sometimes like a curveball and while some scouts predict he’s got some projection left for his fastball velocity, he’s been 90-92 the last two years. He’s got #4-5 SP upside but if the velocity does tick up he could become a middle rotation arm.

 

14. J.B. Bukauskas, SP/RP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020 / Early 2021

J.B. Bukauskas is a lot lower on my list than other lists I’ve read and I do think it’s because his profile screams reliever. He was drafted in the 1st round in 2017 and was moved in the Zack Grienke. He does show the prospect of three elite-level pitches (all with elite spin-rates), its just a matter of getting the innings needed under his belt (was hurt in 2018 thanks to a car accident).

His slider has flashed 70 at times and when it’s on is a true hard wipeout slider. His fastball starting sits 94-96 but should increase in shorter stints and allows him to set up for the slider. His changeup at times has also flashed 70 but is an inconsistent third offering. His duo combo of fastball-slider will give him a good relieving floor as is and could become a fireman role type for the Diamondbacks, but I truly don’t see a starter with how wild he was in 2019 (14.3% walk rate). The chance he is a starter is still there, however, and he should be rostered as at worst he’s an elite reliever.

 

15. Blake Walston, SP

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2022

One of the two prep arms the Diamondbacks took in the 1st round, Blake Walston is the one I prefer simply because I have an affection for lefties. While I’m mostly kidding, Walston was one of the youngest of the draft class and also had a more impressive pro debut, striking out 17 batters in 11 innings. With Walston, you’re getting the potential for three above-average pitches with his curveball showing two different variations, one a harder slurve that the FanGraphs guys said flashes 70. The fastball has movement that helps it get swing and misses despite it being below-average velocity and he’s shown control fo his changeup. You’re going to be waiting a while for Walston but the payoff could be high.

 

16. Brennan Malone, SP

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2022

The second of the prep arms was Brennan Malone, a pitcher who might become more complete than Walston. Showcasing four pitches that could become average or better, Malone also has something Walston doesn’t: elite velocity. Malone was able to ramp his fastball up to 99 MPH in a start in the spring, but he’ll sit mid 90’s more often than not. He also features a slider, curveball and changeup to help round out the profile of a mid-rotation starter. His control isn’t amazing, as evident by his 5 walks in 7 innings but it could become average over time. I do prefer Walston to Malone, but they’re both close enough I wouldn’t fault you for preferring Malone.

 

17. Kevin Ginkel, RP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already Arrived

My choice for the Diamondbacks future closer (maybe even as soon as 2020, their ‘pen looks BLEAK) is Kevin Ginkel, who had one of the better insane minor-league stat lines I’ve ever seen: in 33.1 innings he struck out 62 batters, posting a 1.90 ERA. He also posted a 1.48 ERA in his brief MLB stint, striking out 29.2% of batters. While his control may be a bit of an issue in the majors, he works with three pitches (fastball, slider, changeup) with his fastball and slider showing elite potential. His slider in the majors showed an elite 21.2% swinging strike rate on it, allowing just a .135 wOBA on it (thanks Alex Fast for that info). While relievers don’t tend to get a ton of attention on prospect lists, I think Ginkel has elite closer upside as soon as this year and should be rostered in dynasty leagues.

 

18. Luis Frias, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Luis Frias is a pitcher than came onto my radar in 2019 but has been around the Diamondbacks system for a while, being signed during the J2 period of 2015 as a third baseman. The Diamondbacks noticed the strong arm he possessed and moved him to starting full-time, a move that seems to be working out.

Frias showcases four average to above-average pitches and throws from a high-arm slot. His fastball sits mid-to-upper 90’s and has a ton of movement on it. Frias himself has trouble commanding it because of said movement and partially explains the 9.4% walk-rate he had in AAA this year. He also throws a 12-6 curveball and splitter (that could be plus-plus) that both drop hugely thanks to the arm-slot he throws from. He does however struggled with his release points and will also struggle with command overall because of his delivery. While the upside is of a high strikeout mid-rotation starter (he posted a 17.4% swinging strike rat this year in A ball), he also has considerable reliever downside which limits how high I would place him on this list.

 

19. Taylor Widener, SP

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2020

A major faller in everyone’s prospect rankings, Taylor Widener is probably lucky to even be this high. Acquired from the New York Yankees in the three-team Steven Souza deal, he started as a reliever in college and maybe it’s starting to look like he should be a reliever. While he would like to forget about his 2019 season, I just can’t quit his 2018 season in which he led the minor-leagues in strikeouts.

An HR rate of 2.07 per nine inflated his 8.80 ERA which led to his demise. It seems all four of his pitches regressed in 2019 along with his command as he tried to work out some mechanical issues. He couldn’t grip the ball as well (which showed for his slider, his strikeout pitch) but was still able to strikeout over a better per inning. I’ve got some hope he bounces back in 2020 and is still able to be a back of the rotation arm. If not, he might not be able to cut it even as a major league reliever.

 

20. Levi Kelly, SP

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Levi Kelly probably deserves to be higher on this list after the minor-league season he just had (30.9% strikeout rate in 100 IP in A ball) but this just goes to show the depth of young pitching the Diamondbacks have. Drafted as a high-schooler it was surprising that the Diamondbacks sent Kelly to full-season ball right out of the gate but he rewarded them with their faith.

He features three pitches with his slider showing truly elite level of stuff. The guys at FanGraphs had the to say about it:

What Kelly does have, is one of the better sliders in the minors, with a shape and bite similar to Brad Lidge’s diving bastard of a slider. Sometimes it comes out of Kelly’s hand high and arcs into the strike zone like a curveball; hitters still can’t touch it. Sometimes it backs up on Kelly and has changeup movement; doesn’t matter. When executed, it’s a big league out pitch right now.

That sounds like a helluva strikeout pitch. Going along with that he has a fastball that sits 92-94 and a split-changeup that’s currently below average but has the chance for more.

 

21. Blaze Alexander, MI

 

Age: 20

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Just like his name, Blaze Alexander had done just that, setting the rookie league ablaze during his first initial taste in 2018 (ba-dum-psh). His first taste of full-season ball was a bit tougher on him, but he still showed he possesses tools encouraging to fantasy players (7 home runs, 14 stolen bases). Drafted in the 11th round after scouts questioned his hit tool, Alexander was lauded for his defense and his potential power tool.

His hit tool will become something to watch for with him, as he so far has been able to hit despite the concerns. A healthy 10.3% walk-rate will give him a decent floor should he continue to show such patience and will more than likely make the majors just based off his defense.

 

22. Domingo Leyba, 2B

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: MLB

ETA: Already Arrived

Domingo Leyba is more than likely never going to be more than a bench piece, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up being someone who could hit .280+ with some home runs mixed in. Boring? Yes. But in deeper dynasty leagues that has some use!

Leyba feels like he’s been a prospect forever, as he was part of the Tigers 2012 J2 class. Leyba is a switch-hitter and has a potential 60-grade hit tool, showing it in his AAA slash line hitting .300/.351/.519. While it has to be taken with a grain of salt (only a 107 wRC+ because Reno is an insane hitting park) it shows he’s got the ability to put the bat on the ball. If he gets a chance there’s a slim possibility Leyba can be a regular in the MLB.

 

23. Drey Jameson, SP/RP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2022

Drafted in the comp round in 2019, Drey Jameson might have had the best fastball in the draft class. He regularly sits 93-96 but can touch 98 even deep into games and has two-plus secondaries in his curveball and his slider. These two pitches are closer in velocity (78-82 MPH) so batters won’t be able to tell which is which until too late. He also features a changeup that has flashed plus but played average in his first season of pro-ball.

Hitters have a hard time facing Jameson as his delivery is funky mechanically but this is also his downfall. He has a hard time repeating his delivery and will be wild. He does have starting potential but more than likely ends up in a relief role, which he should excel at.

 

24. Wilderd Patino, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

A J2 signing during the 2017 period, Wilderd Patino is built like players two years older than him. Originally he had a deal with the Texas Rangers but was voided because of an elbow injury and chose to sign with Texas instead. So far in his early playing career, he’s shown a blend of polish for his age and a five-tool package, headlined by his speed which will allow him to stay in center.

While he’s shown a lack of power because of his bat path and poor barrel control, he does excel at pitch recognition. A ground-ball machine, he may get pushed to full-season ball next year to play with players more built like he is.

 

25. Dominic Fletcher, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

Dominic Fletcher will more than likely make the majors on the strength of his defense alone, as it is that good. While none of his tools scream above-average, he’s got good pitch recognition and could potentially stand from having his lower half more involved in his swing. He did hit .318/.389/.463 in his first taste of pro ball, so he could just be a type of guy that defies tool grades and continues to produce. He more than likely ends up in a corner and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was a platoon option.

 

 

26. Jeferson Espinal, OF

 

Age: 17

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

A long-term project, Jeferson Espinal could possibly make his way state-side in 2020. Built like a brick house, Espinal shows a butt-load of potential (yes that’s a unit of measurement) in his physical attributes more than his actual production.

His swing is currently geared for slashing type of contact and currently has a contact only profile. He showcases 60-70 grade speed and should be able to continue to play center field while he ages. This is the type of dart-throw fantasy players should be taking a chance on, as there is a realistic chance he blows up next year and is the next big prospect.

 

27. Tommy Henry, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2022

After a long collegiate season that finished with Tommy Henry leading his Wolverines to a runner up at the national championships, we didn’t get to see much of him in pro-ball. An injury half-way through his collegiate season had scouts worried about his long-term outlook, as his velocity was down around 88 MPH.

When healthy he sits 89-93 MPH with his fastball but is able to utilize it to its max thanks to his deception and high-arm slot. He’ll also throw a slider and change-up, both in the low-80’s, with both of them projecting plus. Without any added projection Henry could become a back-of-the-rotation starter but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had some more in the tank.

 

28. Glenallen Hill Jr., 2B

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

Glenallen Hill Jr. is so raw, he could be served on a sushi plate. He’s so raw, Gordon Ramsey is yelling about him in some kitchen. You get the point. He’s incredibly raw but has fantastic potential tools, including 70-grade speed that he showcased in his first stint in rookie ball.

While he struck-out too often (34.8%) he was still able to steal 19 bases in 42 games played. He also showed decent opposite-field power, hitting two of his three home runs to right field and spraying doubles and triples that way. He’s currently starting at second-base but center-field is a possibility. While he’s going to be a slow burner in the minors, he could be worth it in the end.

 

29. Justin Martinez, SP

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

Another young, raw prospect, you could argue Justin Martinez deserves to be ahead of Glenallen Hill Jr based off potential alone. TINSTAAP is a theory I believe in somewhat so this ranking makes sense, as Martinez could end up flaming out in A-ball.

What Martinez does bring is elite velocity – he was up to 98 MPH in a DSL start this year, but mostly sits 92-96. His control of his fastball is raw, understandably, but he has surprising control of his breaking pitches so far. He’ll flash both an average slider and changeup with neither being projected as plus’s at this point. Martinez has a long way to go, but he’s a prospect you can squint and see major upside with.

 

30. Ryne Nelson, SP

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2023

Two elite pitches in his fastball and slider will help Ryne Nelson rack up the strikeouts, whether it be as a starter or reliever. That’s what the Diamondbacks have to figure out, as he was primarily a reliever in college after being drafted in the 2nd round in 2019.

Nelson’s slider and fastball both grade out as 60+ pitches and both could probably play out of the bullpen right now in the majors. He’ll touch 100 MPH in shorter stints but sits 93-96. He’ll mix in a 12-6 curveball as a starter and a changeup which as is currently below-average. His command will waiver in stints and helps enforce the idea he will more than likely end up as a reliever.

 

31. Alvin Guzman, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

2019 was a rough go for the young 2018 J2 signing. Alvin Guzman had issues with his swing often, trying too hard to hit for power sometimes and messing up his mechanics in the process. He still has a ton of potential even with this lost season, as he stole 14 bases and shows the chance for an above-average hit and power tool.

While the hope is he adds some strength to his 6’1, 166 lb frame it could come at the potential for some speed loss. He should start pro-ball in 2020 and hopefully will show why he was a top J2 signing.

 

32. Jake McCarthy, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2023

Injuries and a lack of power have stunted Jake McCarthy’s growth in the Diamondbacks system. Drafted in the comp round of the 2018 draft, McCarthy still shows the tools he had before being drafted: strong bat-to-ball skills, a disciplined approach, plus defensive abilities and some speed to boot.

While his .277/.341/.405 slash line is nothing special, it came with 18 stolen bases in just 53 games. To become anything viable for fantasy McCarthy will have to develop some power and hopefully staying healthy will give him a chance.

 

33. Jamie Westbrook, OF

 

Age: 25

Highest Level: AAA

ETA: 2020

I can’t quit Jamie Westbrook. Westbrook has been around the Diamondbacks system since 2013, having been drafted in the 5th round and slowly climbing his way up the ladder.

While he doesn’t have any standout tools he does have a bunch of 50’s and recently walked more than he struck out in AAA (12.6% walk-rate to 11.8% strikeout rate). He’ll normally struggle with his first taste of a level then the next year hit much better, giving me hope he can continue to do the same for the future. He’s very intriguing to me as he’s a minor-league free agent, meaning he can go somewhere else where he might get a better shot to play in the majors. I can see a world in which he bats leadoff for a team and hits .280 with 10-12 home runs.

 

34. Jorge Barrosa, OF

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2023

Jorge Barrosa was much younger than the average A- age but it isn’t surprising with his bat-to-ball skills he was able to fit right in. He doesn’t seem like he’s going to fill out much more, but there is still a chance he develops a plus hit too to become fantasy relevant.

His strikeout rate in A- was only 12.7% which emphasizes his skills. He’ll steal a base but isn’t a barnburner, having a 55 grade on his speed. He more than likely will be able to stick in center and as long as he continues to hit, which he has, he’ll keep moving up the prospect ladder.

 

35. Buddy Kennedy, 3B

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2023

While defense isn’t Buddy Kennedy‘s calling card, his bat can play and that’s mostly all we care about for fantasy. He was drafted in the 5th round in 2017 and has shown to post above-average stat-lines in the minors.

In A-ball this year he showed good control of the strike zone, posting a 10.7% walk-rate but along with middling power numbers (just a .384 SLG). He does show doubles-power and hit 18 of them in 101 games in 2019. The guys at FanGraphs theorized he could probably work at catcher and if he were to be converted could become more intriguing for fantasy.

 

36. Emilio Vargas, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: Late 2020 / Early 2021

Emilio Vargas has been simmering in the Diamondbacks system for the last 6 years but he finally had his break-out party in 2018, striking out 30.9% of batters. While he currently doesn’t profile as an elite starter, he could become a nice middle-to-back-end of the rotation starter thanks to the sum of his parts.

He currently throws three pitches average or above (all with control) with his best being his splitter. I am a SUCKER for a good splitter. It has some nasty bite to it and is his best strikeout pitch. He’ll also throw a fastball 91-93 MPH that works best up in the zone and a slider he can steal strikes with. Injuries have been an issue but hopefully he can get past them. He could see the Diamondbacks rotation this year and hopefully show enough to stick.

 

37. Jhosmer Alvarez, SP

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2025

Jhosmer Alvarez has possibly the best splitter in the system and yet there are still many reasons why he’s only at 35. He spent some of the 2019 season hurt with a minor injury and has a violent delivery that screams reliever, but there is a bit of upside here.

His splitter has been graded as FV 70 by the FanGraphs guys thanks to the low RPM he gets on it. He also throws his fastball 92-94 MPH which is surprising for a pitcher his age. He does throw a third pitch, his curveball, which while isn’t awful will be more than likely below average. If he can refine his stuff and stay healthy there’s a chance he’s something.

 

38. Drew Ellis, 3B

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2021

Plus power comes to Drew Ellis, which really helps the profile as he also has an elite-walk rate. Unfortunately, it’s lessened by his sub-par hit tool and pitch recognition, as he’ll miss pitches he should punish.

Statistically, he didn’t have the best power season, which really limits the upside he can have in future seasons. Many awkward swings have been taken by Ellis, but he’s able to make the contact meaningful as he’s that strong. He more than likely ends up at first base as his fielding isn’t amazing, and that will severely limit the upside he has with the bat.

 

39. Neyfy Castillo, 1B

 

Age: 18

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

Neyfy Castillo has a fantastic name and I really hope he makes it to the majors so we can make his nickname Nifty Neyfy. As a prospect Castillo shows massive power for his age, being able to hit for power to all fields. For standing 6’3″ he has surprisingly decent straight-line speed for his size but won’t be the type to ever steal bases.

He’s shown a willingness to take a walk, having an 8.4% in rookie league last year. The hit tool may never be average but it could be just a tick below and that’s still a potentially valuable hitter for fantasy. The wait will be long for Castillo but it could be worth it.

 

40. Josh Green, SP

 

Age: 24

Highest Level: AA

ETA: 2020

A velocity increase after signing in the 14th round helped put Josh Green on the radar, as he was drafted as a relief option. He converted back to a starter in 2019 to much success, winning the Diamondbacks Minor League Pitcher of the Year while posting a 2.71 ERA in 126.1 innings while pitching in A+ and AA.

He throws a fastball 90-92 MPH with a ton of sink (66.7% groundball rate last year) along with a slider, curveball and changeup. His strikeout stuff isn’t amazing, as his strikeout rate dropped to 15.6% in AA, but he helps offset that with decent control. A 3.26 FIP in AA gives me hope he could be a groundball back-of-the-rotation starter that lucks into some mid 3 ERA years.

 

 

 

This is the part of the prospect list where I feel they’re fairly interchangeable. I’ve put the guys I prefer in order, but not much separates them all and wouldn’t feel too upset if they were ranked differently.

 

41. Jose Curpa, CF

 

Age: 19

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

Jose Curpa is a smaller, speedier outfielder that was a J2 signing during the 2016 period. While he’s rule 5 eligible next year, he’s still fairly raw in terms of his bat.

He has had a 111 wRC+ the last three years, but most of it is thanks to a decent walk rate and hit tool. He has almost no power to speak of, maybe even as low as a 30-grade power tool, but has wheels for days and has possibly a 70-grade speed tool. Basing this ranking purely off his speed is probably going to fail in the long-run, but steals are always in need for fantasy.

 

42. Franyel Baez, OF

 

Age: 16

Highest Level: DNP

ETA: 2026

The Diamondbacks top signee from the 2019 J2 period, not a lot is known about him.

The FanGraphs guys list him as “a switch hitter with a tall, square-shouldered, wiry frame” and would be the honorable mention of their list to pop onto the top prospect list next year. If the Diamondbacks’ recent J2 signing success is any indication, Baez will become a prospect down the line everyone will want to roster.

 

43. Tyler Holton, SP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2022

If it wasn’t for his below-average velocity (he throws 86-90 MPH) Tyler Holton would be a lot higher on this list. He was hurt all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery but came back this year to still show two-plus secondaries.

His changeup and slider both can generate swings and misses, and posted a 41.1% strikeout rate in 32.1 innings in A-. While the strikeout rate won’t stay that high, there’s a possibility he’s a 6th starter type or a good reliever. If we see a velocity increase, however, he could be much more than that.

 

44. Andrew Saalfrank, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2022

Andrew Saalfrank was awarded Big 10 Pitcher Of the Year honors after his stellar junior season for Indiana and was drafted in the 6th round by the Diamondbacks. He stands 6’3″ and throws lefty, so I already am intrigued with just that info.

He showcases a true strikeout curveball that he can throw for strikes and a low 90s fastball. While he had some control issues in pro-ball he also dominated in his short stint. I look forward to 2020 to see what Saalfrank can do.

 

45. Eduardo Diaz, OF

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A+

ETA: 2023

Eduardo Diaz had a breakout year in 2016 and followed it up in 2017 with a .312/.357/510 slash line. Unfortunately, it seems like it was a product of the Pioneer League, as he’s struggled somewhat since.

He’s got a collection of 50’s across the board for his tools, but unfortunately, a below-average approach at the plate mitigates any of that. Having a 4% walk-rate in A+ at the age of 22 is worrisome and probably means he won’t have an MLB future, but he does have MLB tools that if he ever clicks will help him get there.

 

46. Jackson Goddard, SP

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A

ETA: 2022

While Jackson Goddard didn’t have a worse year than 2019, so many new prospect additions have just passed him and he’s looking more and more like a 6th starter in the majors. Walks have been an issue for him since being drafted and so far doesn’t project to get much better.

His strikeout rate dropped moving from A- to A ball but did post a 2.89 ERA. His mid-90s fastball is his best pitch, while he also incorporates an average slider and changeup. I could see him taking a leap in 2020 but I don’t foresee that as he more than likely will be facing AA competition.

 

47. Jiter Herrera, SS/3B

 

Age: 16

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2026

An advanced J2 signing from 2019, Jiter Herrera seems to be a confident young man, which really adds to the allure. Herrera was listed as a shortstop when signed but more than likely ends up at third-base as he ages.

His swing is currently gear to hit for power, with natural loft and impressive power for a 16-year-old. You’re going to have to wait a while for Herrera, but the wait could be worth it and just on the potential upside could be the best prospect in the last 10.

 

 

48. Spencer Brickhouse, 1B

 

Age: 21

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2023

Build like his last name, Spencer Brickhouse has massive amounts of power and has the ability to hit home runs to all fields. His major glaring issue currently is his strikeouts, as they caused issues during his collegiate career and his first year of rookie ball.

While walks didn’t seem to be part of his game in 2019 he did improve his plate discipline his final year of college and the hope is he will be able to in pro-ball. Jim Callis on Twitter compared him to Dan Vogelbach, which would be an amazing outcome but one I don’t exactly feel is likely at the current moment. The Diamondbacks were working to change his swing up, so I’ll be watching his 2020 season to see how he does as I do really think he’s got untapped upside.

 

49. Tristin English, 3B

 

Age: 22

Highest Level: A-

ETA: 2023

A two-way player in College, Tristin English switched to full-time hitting and seems to have made some decent progress in his first taste of pro-ball. A jack-of-all-trades, English doesn’t currently have a standout tool but won’t strike out a ton either.
It’s hard to tell how he’s going to progress as he’s never fully focused on just hitting. He had a .292/.356/.482 slash line in 50 games this year, so there’s clearly some hitting ability here. It wouldn’t surprise me if he started the year in AA depending on how reports are in minor-league camp.

 

50. Edinson Soto, RP

 

Age: 23

Highest Level: R

ETA: 2024

Pure a speculation pick, the FanGraphs guys noticed he appeared out of nowhere it seems in 2019. He had control issues in rookie league, which is not encouraging from a 23-year-old in the DSL league but has a lot of tools that are encouraging.

He’s got good arm strength, is able to spin his breaking balls well and has an athletic lean body type. He tops out at 96 MPH but with some more refined work could tick up. No idea if the plan for him is to start or relieve long-term but he could have some upside in either position. A real shot in the dark pick for my last prospect.

 

Honorable Mentions

 

Andy Yerzy, C – Currently a catcher, Yerzy had an awful year with the bat but could potentially hit for pop if he moves to first base long-term.

Justin Lewis, SP – Super tall at 6’7. Had a decent year in A+ with 3.53 ERA, 28.7% strikeout rate all with a .393 BABIP so it could come down. Low-ish GB rate and low HR/FB makes me wonder if he was a tad luck as well.

Ryan Weiss, SP – Has potentially 5 pitches he can throw if his slider and cutter are in fact purposefully different. 3.47 FIP makes me think he was a tad unlucky last year.

Eduardo Herrera, RP – A converted outfielder, Herrera hit 97 MPH almost immediately. Has a decent breaking ball but is very raw and wild.

Featured Image by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Instagram)

Jamie Sayer

Dynasty and prospect extraordinaire, Jamie loves writing about prospects of all ages. A Diehard Bluejays, Leafs and Raptors fan, Jamie can be reached on Twitter at @jamie__sayer and on Reddit /u/jamiesayer.

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