A full month and a half into the season, several of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects have gotten their minor league seasons underway. As always, the future of the organization deeply depends on the development of these youngsters and the system as a whole has slowly improved in recent years. Solid drafts have built some depth while the absence of Kevin Towers has resulted in the team actually holding on to its players of value. Outside of a questionable trade for Jeremy Hellickson, the Diamondbacks haven’t lost much talent in the last year and a half, and even managed to add an intriguing name or two.

So with all of that out of the way, now’s the time to check in on the team’s Single-A affiliate, the Kane County Cougars (A). Kane County has a number of young up and comers worthy of attention. Rather an exhaustive look at the whole team, I’ve elected to pare things down a bit this season and try to focus on those with real major league futures. A 24-year old in Single-A is way behind the development curve and likely 3-4 years older than a lot of his competition, therefore, those types of organizational players will rarely be mentioned here. You can look all of them up on MiLB.com if you want to, but for our purposes, we’ll keep a keen eye on the top prospects. For reference, you can find out top prospects list from this offseason here.

If “Kane County” looks a little odd to you, it may be because this is the first year of their affiliation with the Diamondbacks. Formerly a Cubs Single-A affiliate, the D-backs switched to Kane County when their contract was up with South Bend. The team still plays in the Midwest League, though, so not much has changed. As of this writing, the team is a game below .500 at 19-20, tied for fourth in the Western Standings. They rank near the top of the Midwest League in OPS and runs scored, but are below the middle of the pack in ERA and runs allowed and WHIP.

At the Plate

The team’s top prospect, shortstop Sergio Alcantara, got off to a rough start and has been re-assigned to Extended Spring Training where he’ll look to improve offensively. Young for the league, he struggled to adjust to full season ball after OPSing a paltry .296. In the past, he’s done a tremendous job of balancing his walks and strikeouts, but this year he was exposed and will work with coaches to refine his plate approach and ability to barrel up the ball. Given his glove-first profile, this isn’t a tremendous surprise, but it is a bit disappointing.

Third baseman Joe Munoz recently had a hitting streak snapped, but has performed relatively well in 2015, with two homers and three doubles in 18 games. A second round pick in 2012, he has the tools to become a big league player but has struggled in the past to stay healthy. A full season from him could be huge for his stock. 2014 8th rounder Grant Heyman has also helped lead the charge for Kane County, hitting for both average and power thus far. I pegged him as a guy that could move relatively fast and so far, he looks like he’s got the Midwest League under control. At 21-years old, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him promoted by midseason.

A pair of outfielder have really stolen the show for the Cougars. Colin Bray was a 6th round choice in 2013 and is paying dividends. The long, lean center fielder is racking up the extra-base hits and has stolen a half-dozen bases as well. Reports from scouts suggest that the switch-hitter could really blossom into something of value for Arizona. Victor Reyes, acquired in the Trevor Cahill trade, has also showcased an impressive switch-hitting profile. His plate discipline holds him back some, but if he can refine his approach, he could really take off. Scouts love his swing mechanics and believe it’s geared for production, and at just 20-years old, he has time to work on improving his game at the plate, including bulking up to add more power.

On the Mound

The big headline for Cougars pitchers was made when Touki Toussaint made his much-anticipated debut last weekend. He only went four innings, but scatter four hits and struck out six while surrendering one earned run. Reports on the outing were solid and what you’d expect, with him working to throw fastballs for strikes and mixing in the curve. It’s just one start, so we don’t know much yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how he moves forward against quality competition.

Brad Keller has been an under-the-radar name that I’ve liked for some time. The 2013 8th rounder has an innings-eater frame and sits in the low 90’s with his sinker. With 40 strikeouts in 43 innings to go along with an ERA just a touch over three, he’s off to a good start and should spend the whole yearn with the Cougars. Fellow starter Jeferson Mejia was part of the Miguel Montero trade this winter and it’s been a rough go for the large, hard-throwing righty. There’s been some talk of moving him to the bullpen, something the Cubs did last season, and it looks like the D-backs may have to make the same call sooner than later as he’s had a brutal time throwing strikes.

The relief corps has showcased some strong stuff, including the work of Zac Curtis, a 2014 draftee. The short righty has electric velocity but can struggle to create plane due to his height. The stuff works now against guys who aren’t used to seeing 95+, but whether it works at higher levels will be the deciding factor. Jency Solis is a big-bodied righty who’s off to a good start, with a 16/2 K/BB ratio and has given up only 12 hits in 16 innings of work. He may be a guy to keep an eye on.

3 Responses to Toussaint Debuts for the Cougars

  1. rye says:

    Stryker Trahan and his .206 BA weeps silently in the corner.

  2. Mark says:

    Trahan was an awful draft pic obviously. Sooo glad Towers is gone! Worst GM ever.

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