Though the Diamondbacks did part with franchise cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt this off-season, that doesn’t mean they’re in full-on sell mode. They returned two ready-now pieces in the trade (Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly), adding to a developing young core with veterans like Eduardo Escobar, Adam Jones, and Jarrod Dyson. Save for the huge financial commitment still owed to Zach Grienke, this is a fairly flexible roster situation with enough prospect muscle to foreseeably fill spots in the lineup with affordable homegrown talent in years to come.
–STRONG UP THE MIDDLE
Almost all of the Diamondbacks’ top hitting prospects play valuable center-diamond positions. They’re strong up the middle, lead by shortstop (#1) Jazz Chisholm and catcher (#4) Daulton Varsho. Ranked outfielders (#5) Kristian Robinson, (#7) Alek Thomas, and (#8) Jake McCarthy all have some chance to play CF in the big leagues; (#6) Geraldo Perdomo is an interesting shortstop prospect, and (#13) Andy Yerzy might stick at catcher with defensive developments.
Arizona has a nice mix of prospects both high and low in the system. (#2) Jon Duplantier has already made his big league debut in 2019, and many of the organization’s top prospects aren’t far behind him in the upper-minors. (#3) Taylor Widener and (#9) Taylor Clarke should crack the big league roster at some point this season, with top position prospects (#1) Jazz Chisholm and (#4) Daulton Varsho on the horizon in 2020. Past that group, you could argue the strength of this system lies in the lowest-rungs—something that should keep talent flowing to the big league roster even after graduations by prospects currently at the top of this list. (#5) Kristian Robinson, (#6) Geraldo Perdomo, and (#7) Alek Thomas all have ETAs of 2022 or later but have the upside to become future building blocks for the Diamondbacks.
Once the top four prospects on this list graduate from eligibility, the spotlight in Arizona’s system will turn to the strong contingent of players that were at the short-season level last year. There’s a lot of upside there—even past Robinson, Perdomo, and Thomas—as (#13) Andy Yerzy, (#14) Matt Tabor, Liover Peguero, Blaze Alexander, and a few others have ceilings of useful big league contributors. Even so, there’s always risk with low-minors players. The Diamondbacks are deep in lottery ticket prospects, though that group is bound to include a few names that ultimately fall short of their projections.
TOP 15 PREF LIST
CREAM OF THE CROP
(#1) Jazz Chisholm, SS
Chisholm signed for $200K in 2015 from the Bahamas, now grading as one of baseball’s best shortstop prospects after a dynamic breakout season in 2018. He slashed .272/.329/.513 between two A-Ball levels last year, finishing with a stellar showing in Fall League against older competition as an encore. Chisholm is an exciting athlete with a potential five-tool skill set that impacts the game in many ways. He’s a lock to remain at shortstop, possessing the requisite frame, range, soft hands, and throwing arm for the position. Offensively, his quick-twitch muscularity generates whippy batspeed that gives him surprising power in a 5-foot-11 frame. The ball jumps off his bat to all fields, and there’s legitimate 20 home run potential here as he finishes filling out and refining his approach. Chisholm gets over-aggressive at times and is a bit strikeout prone, though his age and athleticism allow projection on the hit tool. There’s risk to our Role 60 grade given that we’re going off one year in A-Ball, but Chisholm has the tools and upside of an all-star shortstop.
(#2) Jon Duplantier, RHP
Ceiling: 55 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 225 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 8m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Video #3 | Report
A healthy Jon Duplantier is one of the better pitching prospects in baseball, but the question is how often he’ll be at full strength. Injury issues have persisted throughout his career—both as an amateur at Rice, and at the pro level—though his stellar showing down the stretch last year places him somewhere in our Top 125 regardless. He lead the minors in ERA in 2017, and despite more missed time with injury last season, Duplantier was great when he was on the mound. He turned heads in Fall League after the year, cementing his top prospect status with a strong showing for Salt River. His heavy fastball works between 93 and 96 mph, able to reach back for the occasional 97 or 98. The go-to secondary is a nasty power slider, coming in with high-80s velocity and wipeout action. Duplantier backs up those 60-grade offerings with a changeup that flashes above-average upside, paired with a workable curve he’ll flip over for a second look at his breaking ball. Presuming he stays healthy, Duplantier should reach the big leagues in 2019. His ceiling is a power mid-rotaton starter with numerous miss-bat weapons.
ON THE HORIZON
(#3) Taylor Widener, RHP
The Diamondbacks acquired Widener in a three-team deal with the Yankees and Rays. He had been nearly unhittable as a pro before the trade and found another level in 2018, pitching to a 2.75 ERA across 26 Southern League outings. Short but strong, Widener’s durable lower half plays into his mechanics and aids with the extension in his delivery. His fastball sits in the low-90s, touching 94-to-95 mph at best, and gets a ton of swinging strikes because of plus late life. He locates to all parts of the zone, projecting to 55-grade command at maturity. Widener tunnels his pitches well, helping play up his slider and changeup to above-average offerings given how late each pitch shows off the fastball. His ability to locate different speeds is what ties together a solid-average mix of pitches, projecting as a high-floor #4 starter that should reach Arizona some point this season.
(#4) Daulton Varsho, C
Arizona’s second-rounder in 2017 from the college ranks, Varsho spent all of last season at High-A. He went to Fall League after the season, showing an amazingly athletic toolset for a catcher that intrigues scouts. Built like a fullback at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Varsho is surprisingly athletic and mobile for his frame. He stole nearly 20 bases last year and posts above-average run times underway. He’s aggressive at the plate but prone to strikeouts, not showing much willingness to shorten up with two strikes. Varsho shows occasional fly ball juice but will need to emphasize putting the ball in the air to fully tap into his home run potential. Defensively, he’s developing as a receiver and moves very well from side to side. As one would expect with his athleticism, Varsho is quick out of the crouch and features strong carry on his throws. There were questions about whether he would stick at catcher entering pro ball, but he has essentially assuaged those concerns with his defensive developments since signing. His athleticism, offensive upside, and burgeoning glovework at catcher give Varsho the upside of a 2-3 WAR regular at a premium position.
(#9) Taylor Clarke, RHP
Clarke has moved steadily through the system since being the organization’s fifth-round pick in 2015 from the College of Charleston. He arguably could have cracked the big league roster at the end of last year, but Arizona opted to keep him in Triple-A for the entire 2018 season. Clarke doesn’t have tons of upside but is a safe bet to soak up innings in a rotation role. He throws strikes with a low-90s fastball that touches the 94-to-95 mph range at best, though the control is better than his in-zone command. He’ll throw a full mix of secondary pitches—curve, slider, and changeup—all grading as fringy-to-average offerings.. A high-floor pitching prospect, he profiles as a low-end #5 or versatile swingman that moves between roles. Clarke was added to the 40-Man Roster in November and should surface in the big leagues at some point next year.
(#10) Yoan Lopez, RHP
Arizona’s previous regime famously spent a whopping $16 million on Lopez in 2015. He had a rocky first few years in the organization both on and off the field, but the Cuban righty has seemingly righted the ship and found a home in the ‘pen. Lopez jumped straight from Double-A to the Majors at the end of 2018 and was impressive across 10 big league relief outings. He has the stuff to immediately step into a high-leverage role, able to run a power fastball into the high-90s with a swing-and-miss slider as the go-to secondary.
(#11) Emilio Vargas, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: High ETA: 2020 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 200 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 7m
Vargas signed for just $80K in 2013, and while he has progressed slowly, he’s still only 22 and now grades as one of the organization’s better pitching prospects. Vargas cruised through the California League and joined Double-A Jackson late in the year, making two starts in the Southern League playoffs for the eventual league champs. The fastball works in the 90-to-94 range, and while his walk rates improved in 2018, there’s stiffness in the back of his delivery that impacts command. Vargas’ sharp three-quarters breaking ball is at least an average pitch, and his changeup projects as a usable offering as well. Arizona added him to the 40-Man Roster after last season. His ceiling is a #5 starter, though Vargas would be an interesting three-pitch ‘pen arm if he falls short of that.
(#12) Andy Young, 2B/OF
Young was a lowly 37th rounder in 2016, though his strong performance through the minors to date now has him poised to surface in the big leagues fairly soon. He slashed .289/.379/.479 in Double-A last season, performing well in Fall League after the year. Young was one of the pieces Arizona acquired this winter in exchange for franchise cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt. An offensive-minded infielder, Young’s muscular, compact build produces above-average raw power. He puts a charge into fastballs and hits with a keen sense of the zone, rarely offering at soft stuff. This is a good thing, because his actual bat-to-ball skill against spin isn’t fantastic. Defensively, he’s an adequate defender at 2B but limited to low spots on the defensive spectrum. He tried the outfield in Fall League, though a limited throwing arm likely limits Young to 2B and LF in the big leagues.
Domingo Leyba, 2B
Originally a Tigers prospect, Leyba was sent to Arizona in the three-team deal that shipped Didi Gregorius to the Yankees in 2014. After missing most of 2017 with shoulder surgery, he made a healthy return to Double-A last year and played a prominent role in Jackson’s Southern League championship victory. The switch-hitter shows a short, quiet stroke from both sides of the plate. There’s more offensive upside hitting left-handed, but the ability to match up against both righties and lefties certainly helps Leyba’s versatility. There isn’t much power and he’s likely to move off short, checking the boxes of a potential role player that moves around the infield.
Jimmie Sherfy, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Low ETA: 2017 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 175 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 27y, 3m
Sherfy has recorded big league time each of the last two years. There isn’t tons of upside, but he’s a ready-now piece that was effective in an up-and-down role in 2018. His fastball sits in the low-90s, backed by a breaking ball he has above-average feel to change the shape and power on. It breaks very late and is especially tough on righties, looking like a true slow curve in the 70-to-72 mph range and a bit more slider-ish when thrown harder. He mixes a changeup to keep lefties honest, able to face both left and right-handed bats.
Joey Krehbiel, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Moderate ETA: 2018 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 185 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 26y, 3m
Krehbiel was drafted in the 12th round by the Angels in 2011, coming to the Diamondbacks in a small 2014 trade. He posted excellent upper-minors strikeout numbers last year and made two big league appearances last year. A two-pitch ‘pen arm entering his age-26 season, Krehbiel doesn’t offer tons of upside but is a ready-now piece who should factor in to Arizona’s Major League relief corps in 2019. His mid-90s fastball touches the 97-98 mph range, blasting through the zone with explosive bat-missing ride. Krehbiel’s slider is at least an average pitch, and he’ll mix a usable changeup as an infrequent wrinkle. With two options remaining, he’ll provide value as an up/down middle reliever.
Kevin Ginkel, RHP
Ginkel was drafted twice from the JuCO ranks but didn’t sign, instead heading to the University of Arizona for his junior year of college. The Diamondbacks picked him in the 22nd round in 2016, and the hard-throwing righty has moved quickly through the system in a relief-only role. Ginkel was excellent last season, posting gaudy strikeout numbers and finishing the year in Double-A. The fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s and touches 97 mph, backed by an average slider in the mid-80s. He’s able to mix a firm changeup to keep lefties honest, a pitch he could live to take a tick or two off to get more separation from his fastball. We see him as a near-ready middle relief piece, one that has additional value because of numerous remaining Minor League options.
Bo Takahashi, RHP
Takahashi signed with Arizona from Brazil as an amateur in 2013. Last season was his best as a pro, reaching Double-A for the first time and heading to Fall League after the year. Takahashi lacks the stuff for a true rotation profile, but his pitchability and control give the chance to fill a role. He keeps hitters off balance and mixes four pitches well. Takahashi’s fastball sits in the upper-80s and rarely cracks 91 mph, backed by a two breaking pitches (curve/slider) and a changeup. This type of pitching prospect can wind up an upper-minors or 4A type if no one attribute carries the profile, but we see Takahashi’s ceiling as a longman or middle innings type.
Dominic Miroglio, C
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2020 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 203 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 0m
(#5) Kristian Robinson, OF
Robinson is the second top Diamondbacks prospect from the Bahamas, signing for $2.5 million two years after fellow countryman (#1) Jazz Chisholm came to terms with Arizona. Robinson’s prodigious physicality, athleticism, and speed/power toolset were the talk of the backfields in Extended Spring Training. After a very encouraging pro debut, he’s now among the most exciting prospects in baseball yet to play at the full-season level. His muscular 6-foot-3 frame will continue to fill out, though Robinson moves well enough to have a chance to remain in CF. He has tremendous batspeed and rare present raw power for a teenager, able to drive the ball to any part of the field. His swing gets long and his two-strike approach isn’t very refined, though he only turned 18-years-old this December and is the age of many high school prospects in this year’s draft. There’s risk given his age and proximity, but not many prospects in the minors can match Robinson’s body and raw tools. He draws comparisons to Monte Harrison (Marlins), though with the added benefit of focusing full-time on baseball as opposed to playing numerous sports. We’re excited to see Robinson in full-season ball, and he could jump into Top 125 consideration once there.
(#6) Geraldo Perdomo, SS
Ceiling: 50 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 184 lbs. B/T: S/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 5m
Perdomo signed for just $70K, which looks like a steal now that he’s developed into one of the more interesting prospects in the organization. An excellent athlete with projection oozing from a greyhound 6-foot-2 frame, he’s a surefire shortstop with burgeoning offensive upside. A switch-hitter, Perdomo makes contact form both sides of the plate and does more damage hitting lefty. His game-readiness was enthusing, as Perdomo showed polish last summer and fared well against older competition as an 18-year-old. His power mostly plays to the gaps right now, but there’s untapped leverage in the swing and he’s large enough to grow into more loft. Perdomo shines on defense, a potential plus glove at short with soft hands and a strong arm. The ingredients for an everyday player are here, with some potential to be better than that if the bat develops more than we expect.
(#7) Alek Thomas, OF
Thomas was the 63rd overall pick in last year’s draft from a Chicago-area high school. The son of the White Sox director of strength and conditioning, Thomas is more polished than many cold-weather prep hitters given time spent around the big leagues. He looked more than ready for pro ball in his debut last summer, slashing .333/.395/.463 between the Arizona and Pioneer Leagues. Thomas’ feel for the barrel is impressive, especially considering how much pre-pitch movement exists in his swing. He displays a mature sense of the strike zone and doesn’t chase many pitches. Thomas makes a lot of hard contact, and though he might not wind up a huge home run threat, there’s sneaky power potential if he can start lifting the ball more. A plus runner, Thomas’ wheels show up in the outfield and on the bases. He’s a stolen base threat and projects to play a solid CF. The tools are here to be an everyday outfielder who impacts the game in numerous ways. Thomas could finish better than that if the home run power really comes on.
(#8) Jake McCarthy, OF
McCarthy was the 39th overall pick in last year’s draft from the University of Virginia. He only played in 20 games as a college junior due to a broken wrist, showing no signs of rust in his strong pro debut in the Northwest League (.288/.378/.442). A strong, athletic 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, McCarthy is on the larger end for a center-diamond defender but has the mobility to stay in CF. He makes a ton of contact and displays a keen sense of the strike zone, rarely whiffing and able to use both fields. McCarthy has the physicality to develop more home run power if he can add more lift to his swing. His contact profile will need to adjust in order to do that, however, as more than 50-percent of his batted balls were on the ground last summer. McCarthy’s ceiling is an everyday outfielder, with the chance to fit as a useful role player if he falls short of that. His risk grade should drop once he establishes himself at the full-season level.
(#13) Andy Yerzy, C
Ceiling: 50 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 215 lbs. B/T: L/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 8m
Yerzy was the 52nd overall pick in 2016 from the Canadian prep ranks. He has moved slowly through the system to date, yet to play above short-season ball as he continues developing defensively at catcher. Yerzy has had no problem at the plate, developing into an imposing power presence as he has filled out a physical 6-foot-3 frame. He has combined for 21 home runs the last two summers between the Pioneer and Northwest Leagues. Same-side pitching challenged him in 2018, as Yerzy hit .346 against righties against a paltry .118 versus southpaws. He’s a project defensively, and while there have been improvements since turning pro, it’s possible he ultimately moves down the defensive spectrum. Yerzy has the physical size and durability desired at catcher, though his framing and receiving still are works in progress. The power potential and defensive profile make him a prospect, albeit one with risk considering how much pressure is on his bat if he moves off a premium position.
(#14) Matt Tabor, RHP
Ceiling: 50 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 180 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 8m
Arizona’s third-rounder in 2017, Tabor was a late-blooming prep righty from the Northeast. He has stayed on that enthusing development trajectory, taking another step forward last summer in the Northwest League. An athletic 6-foot-2, he repeats an upbeat delivery well and throws a lot of strikes. Tabor’s fastball sits in the 92-to-93 mph range but touches higher, and there still might be another tick of velocity left as the 20-year-old finishes filling out. His loose, low-effort arm-stroke sells his changeup with deceptive armspeed, getting hitters geared up for a fastball before late-tailing dive. Though his slider gets short at times, it flashes average upside and has time to continue improving. Tabor could break out upon reaching full-season ball and will take a jump with a strong 2019. It requires some projecting, but all the ingredients are here for a big league rotation piece.
(#15) Pavin Smith, 1B
The seventh overall pick in 2017, Smith’s prospect stock has slid because of an inability to get to prototype corner power. While he was always known as a hit-first bat, he hasn’t produced enough average to date to outweigh middling power numbers. Scouts that saw him last year felt Smith was pressing to hit more home runs, getting away from his offensive strengths and ultimately leading to an uncharacteristic amount of swing-and-miss. We aren’t closing the book fully by any means, as he still shows signs of the barrel-feel and patient approach that made him a first-rounder just two years ago. Unless he can develop into a legitimate 60 or 70-grade hit/on-base threat, however, he’ll have to find a way to produce more power in order to fit an everyday profile as a 1B-only.
Drew Ellis, 3B/1B
Ellis had a big junior year at Louisville, going to the Diamondbacks with the 44th overall pick in 2017. He skipped over Low-A entirely, heading straight to the California League for his first full pro season. Ellis showed glimpses of his power and patience in 2018, also falling into slumps and struggling badly late in the year. Built with a broad, physical frame that looks the part on a corner, he has above average raw and can drive the ball with loft to all parts of the park. Ellis takes a strong cut that punishes hittable fastballs but doesn’t adjust as well to quality off-speed stuff, especially against righties. Drawing walks will help his offensive profile greatly, as he’s the type of hitter that could strike out in bunches higher up the ladder. His defense has improved since turning pro, but scouts are still split on whether Ellis will stick at 3B or move across the infield down the road. The arm is good enough for the hot corner, but Ellis’ hands and lateral mobility are still playable at best. He profiles as a lefty-mashing corner option, a low-end regular or solid role player that moves between both infield positions.
Liover Peguero, SS
Peguero signed for $475K from the Dominican Republic in 2017. He slashed an impressive .309/.356/.457 in the DSL, earning a 19-game stint in the AZL followed by an assignment to stateside instructs. Peguero’s extra-twitchy and athletic frame stands out. His high hips and wiry features look the part at short, projecting to maintain mobility even as the body matures. He’s advanced at the plate, showing a concept of the zone and consistent ability to barrel different pitch types. Peguero’s swing features loose hands, good balance, and a direct path—attributes that allow significant projection to the hit tool as he gets stronger. The mix of athleticism, barrel-feel, and center-diamond defensive ability make him an interesting lottery ticket low in the system. There’s real breakout potential here, and scouts that are high on Peguero feel strongly he could take a jump in the next two years.
Blaze Alexander, SS
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2023 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 160 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 9m
Alexander was looking like a potential early-round pick in last year’s draft, but an up-and-down senior spring at IMG Academy dropped him to the 11th round. He signed with Arizona for an over-slot $500K bonus, skipping over a South Carolina commitment by doing so. Alexander had an excellent pro debut, slashing .329/.417/.538 between the Arizona and Pioneer Leagues. His simple, compact swing projects to make lots of contact, and there could be some power coming given a wiry-strong frame. Alexander has some chance to remain at shortstop, where his cannon arm is a weapon and allows him to play deep. His game requires some projection, but the tools are here for a low-end regular or solid role player.
Marcus Wilson, OF
Wilson was an extra-raw prospect as an amateur, so Arizona knew he would be on a longer development path when they selected him with the 69th overall pick in 2014. It has been just that, as Wilson has yet to play above High-A and struggled there last season. The athletic outfielder struggled to a .235/.309/.369 line in the hitter-friendly California League, carrying a strikeout rate close to 30-percent. Wilson looks the part of a big league outfielder, his quick-twitch 6-foot-3 frame projecting to grow into more strength while maintaining plus speed. He covers good ground in CF and grades as an above-average defensive outfielder. There’s interesting power projection too, as Wilson shows pull loft that hints more game power could be on the come with strength gains. He profiles as a toolsy role player, the lack of hitting ability likely standing in the way of a future everyday profile.
Matt Mercer, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2021 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 180 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 7m
Mercer drew the interest of pro scouts as a high school senior, but hurt his elbow before the draft and ultimately required Tommy John surgery. He headed to the University of Oregon, blossoming into the Ducks’ Friday night starter and a fifth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2018. Mercer has a lean, athletic 6-foot-2 frame with a quick arm that generates above-average velocity. His fastball sits in the 92-to-95 mph range and touches a tick higher. Though walk rates weren’t a huge concern last summer in the Northwest League, he will have to simplify a complex delivery to command his fastball more effectively. Mercer’s diving changeup can play as an above-average offering off the heater, and his curveball shows promising action as well. We like the stuff, even knowing there’s some chance Mercer winds up in the ‘pen.
Harrison Francis, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 195 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 5m
Francis was Arizona’s fourth-rounder in 2017 from a Florida high school. He pitched sparingly in his pro debut that summer, getting a full slate of pro innings for the first time last season. Francis pitched well at two levels, moving up from the AZL to make five late-season appearances in the Northwest League. A physical 6-foot-2, his fastball sits in the low-90s and could add a tick more velocity as he finishes filling out. A low-80s changeup is his best off-speed pitch, thrown with deceptive armspeed and fading hard to his armside to get hitters out in front. Francis will need to develop his breaking ball and tone down aspects of his delivery in order to reach his ceiling. He’s an interesting projection arm who could take steps forward in the coming years.
Jackson Goddard, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 220 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 3m
Goddard was Arizona’s third-rounder last year from the University of Kansas. He entered the spring expected to go higher, falling a bit given an up-and-down junior season after missing time with an oblique strain. His heavy fastball touches 97 mph at best and consistently sits in the 92-to-94 mph range. The pitch has above-average armside movement and really takes off down in the zone at best. Goddard’s slider and fosh-like changeup both show flashes of developing into effective offerings to project him as a starter, though he’ll need to keep cleaning up a fairly effortful delivery to improve his in-zone command. Goddard will be an interesting follow at the full-season level in 2019, a potential #5 starter or swingman that has the two-pitch mix to take to a ‘pen role if he needs a fallback.
Buddy Kennedy, 3B
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2023 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 190 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 5m
Kennedy was Arizona’s fifth-rounder in 2017 from the same New Jersey high school as Mike Trout. Like most cold-weather prep players, he was held back in Extended Spring Training to start his first full year of pro ball. Kennedy looked ready for the Pioneer League, slashing a robust .327/.396/.465 for Missoula last summer. A stocky, muscular 6-foot-1, Kennedy is already fairly physically mature. That strength gives him advanced batspeed, whistling the barrel through the zone with loose hands that produce hard line drive contact. He shows enthusing strike zone awareness and contact ability, striking out in just 13-percent of his plate appearances in 2018 while walking nearly as much. There’s more power potential to unlock as Kennedy learns to backspin the ball better; his 28-percent line drive rate and penchant for aerial contact bode well for more home runs down the road. Defensively, he’s more athletic than he looks and plays 3B for now. The bat will lead the profile and there’s certainly proximity risk, but we like the hit tool enough to mention him on the unranked portion of this list.
Ryan Weiss, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 210 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 3m
Weiss missed his entire freshman year at Wright State with injury, making him an eligible redshirt sophomore last year when he went to Arizona in the fourth round. Built with an ideal pitching frame, he throws strikes with all his pitches and has the mechanics to remain a starter. Weiss’ fastball sits in the 91-to-93 mph range and touches a bit higher, backed up by a solid changeup that grades as his best secondary. He’ll need to tighten a loopy curveball in order for it to grade as an average pitch. Despite strong walk numbers, Weiss still needs to refine his command within the strike zone. He has the tools of a #5 starter or swingman type.
Eduardo Diaz, OF
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2022 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 175 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 18m
After a big 2017 season in the Pioneer League (.312/.357/.510), Diaz struggled in his Low-A debut in 2018 and was slowed by a groin injury that ultimately ended his year. He’s an athletic 6-foot-2 with an intriguing power/speed toolset, though he’ll need to tone down a raw approach at the plate to hit against upper-level competition. Diaz can drive a fastball but struggles with secondary stuff, striking out in over 30-percent of his plate appearances in the Midwest League. There’s a chance he sticks in CF, something that will make him much more valuable at the big league level. Despite a lost 2018, Diaz still has time on his side and the tools to take a step forward upon heading back to full-season ball this year.
Luis Frias, RHP
Frias signed for just $50K in 2015 and has become an interesting sleeper low in the system. He has filled out a physical 6-foot-3 frame, built muscularly through the shoulders and hips. He started last year in Extended Spring Training, pitching well in the AZL and earning a late-season bump to the Northwest League. Frias’ fastball tops out at 97 mph and sits 92-to-94 mph starting games. His go-to secondary is a high-70s curve that gets true 12-to-6 action from his overhand release point. Like most young arms, Frias’ changeup and control/command remain raw. He’s far from a sure thing, but the frame and tools merit a mention off the ranked portion of this list.
Levi Kelly, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2023 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 180 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 10m
Kelly was putting himself on area scouts’ radar in West Virginia before moving to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year of high school to face better competition. He moved up boards with a strong spring, signing for an over-slot bonus with Arizona in 2018’s eighth round. Kelly’s fastball touches 95 mph and sits comfortably in the low-90s. He shows feel to spin an upper-70s breaking ball, able to repeat a delivery that projects to clean up with strength gains and pro reps. He’s a lottery ticket, but the basic stuff mix and durable 6-foot-2 frame form the foundation of a potential starter kit.
Alvin Guzman, OF
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2024 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 166 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: DNP Age (as of April 1, 2019): 17y, 5m
Guzman signed with Arizona for $1.85 million on the first day of last summer’s J2 period. His greyhound 6-foot-1 and 166-pound build projects to get both taller and wider, as Guzman’s large feet and long limbs give the look of a teenager still growing into his body. An excellent athlete, Guzman’s speed and arm-strength grade as plus tools and rated near the top of this year’s international class. His loose, leveraged swing could develop interesting power potential with strength gains. Guzman did not play in an official pro game last year and will debut in 2019.
Jorge Barrosa, OF
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2023 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 5’9” / 165 lbs. B/T: S/L Highest Level: R Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 1m
Barrosa signed for $415K in the 2017 from Venezuela. Making his pro debut last summer as a 17-year-old, he impressed enough in the DSL (.299/.402/.412 with 37 steals) to get a bump to the AZL and Pioneer League by summer’s end. A short, twitchy athlete, the 5-foot-9 outfielder makes slappy contact from both sides of the plate. He lacks the size for much power, but his double-plus wheels are a real separator and arm him with an impact tool. That speed shows up in the outfield, where Barrosa covers lots of ground in CF and projects to play the position well. Just 18, there’s a lot of time for him to develop as a player. He’s a low-minors wildcard, but the contact, speed, and defense lay the foundation for Barrosa to finish a role player in the big leagues.
Josh Green, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2021 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 210 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 7m
Green signed for a small bonus in the 14th round last year from Southeastern Louisiana. He had a big pro debut in the Northwest League, converting 11 of 12 saves for Hillsboro with a 1.09 ERA across 33 frames. His fastball touches 97 mph and sits in the mid-90s, backed up by a slider and changeup that both could finish solid-average. A relief-only prospect, Green could move quickly through the system.
Justin Lewis, RHP
A 2014 draft pick by the Rays out of a Georgia high school, Lewis redshirted his first year at the University of Kentucky. He was as old as most seniors (but technically a redshirt junior) entering last spring, drafted by Arizona in the 12th round. There’s a bit more projection to Lewis than most college arms, as his extra-lanky 6-foot-7 frame is still growing into more strength and body control. He throws a low-90s sinker downhill, backed up by a sweepy low-80s slider and developing changeup. Lewis is more interesting tools than a true prospect at this stage, but he’s an interesting PD project to follow in the low parts of the system.
Kyler Stout, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2021 Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 195 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: SS-A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 5m
Stout signed for just $5,000 as a fifth-year senior from Oral Roberts in the 2018 draft. A reliever even in college, he had a sparking pro debut (0.79 ERA in the Northwest League) before moving up to Low-A Kane County by summer’s end. A short, compact, muscular righty, Stout runs a lively fastball into the mid-90s. His hard slurve has sharp bite at times and is the go-to secondary. He’s the type of prospect that could move through the system quickly and has low-leverage bullpen upside. There’s risk, too, as Stout is already 24 and has only mowed down much younger competition to date.