The minor league season is underway, at least for all of the full season affiliates. That means that the future of the franchise is already in action and we’re already taking notes with an eye on the D-backs of tomorrow. The biggest story line is that Touki Toussaint, the team’s number one draft selection last June was not assigned to Kane County. That means that he’ll begin his first full professional season in extended spring training in Arizona. Staying behind with Touki are three other high picks: Cody Reed (LHP), Isan Diaz (2B) and Marcus Wilson (CF) who cumulatively represent the top four selections from 2014.
This wasn’t unforeseen as the D-backs have had a history of holding back high upside youngsters and slow-playing their introduction to professional ball. It appears that they believe that this slower approach, mixed with more hands-on coaching, is the best route to take in terms of maximizing talent. While it’d be great to see these guys in action, it’s hard to argue with the strategy. Two other names missing from the roster are outfield Matt Railey, who’s serving a 50-game suspension and prized right-hander Jose Martinez, who’s recovering from a hamstring injury. It remains to be seen when these two join the fray as it would stand to reason that Railey will jump in when his 50 games is up and Martinez when he’s healthy.
Now, on to the team on the field.
- Sergio Alcantara, SS
- Brad Keller, RHP
- Zac Curtis, LHP
- Brent Jones, RHP
- Luis Ramirez, RHP
- Stryker Trahan, C/OF
- Joe Munoz, 3B
- Colin Bray, OF
*Four-star prospects represent players with clear major league upside, three-star prospects are players who have tools indefinite major league upside, two-star prospects are players with intriguing talents but are questionable to reach the big league level
What to Look For
Sergio Alcantara is the player with the most upside on the roster and is the team’s highest-rated prospect. The slick-field shortstop may never hit much but can likely do enough with the bat to keep his glove in the game. The Didi Gregorius comp is an apt one, although there’s hope that the offense may come around for Alcantara before all is said and done.
Jeferson Mejia and Mason McCullough are power arms for the Cougars. Mejia came over in the Montero trade with the Cubs while McCullough was a fifth-rounder in 2014. Both can touch the upper 90’s and McCullough is already in the bullpen where he’ll look to learn at least a little bit of command. Mejia has been used as a start thus far but may become a reliever if he can’t develop a reasonable changeup. Ozuna is a high energy second baseman with surprising pop for a little guy who can run some. Heyman was a eighth-round choice in 2014 and hit extremely well for Hillsboro in his debut, showing the ability to hit for average and power.
Brad Keller and Brent Jones have inning-eater profiles while Zac Curtis is a strikeout-heavy reliever who throws hard from the left side. Luis Ramirez could be a sleeper prospect after doing well for Hillsboro as an older prospect at 21. Stryker Trahan’s struggles have been well-documented but there’s still a glimmer of hope. Joe Munoz was impressive up close and personal this spring at third base and could improve his stock if he can stay healthy. Colin Bray is a toolsy outfielder who has already draw some attention for his upside.
The team as a whole lacks major star power, but has several intriguing guys on the roster. At this level, it’s all about development and there are plenty of players who have major league talent. If Railey and Martinez are added at some point down the road, the team could warrant extra attention. For now, it’s a lot of raw, upside talent and that’s just fine.
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