It’s important to do a good job. The internet is littered with opinions of every shape and size. At Inside the ‘Zona, we do our best to steer away from that by focusing on the facts – that is, largely the data around baseball. We look for insights, we look for clues and we look for information that can help us draw more accurate, more valuable and more useful conclusions about the Arizona Diamondbacks and Major League Baseball at large. That’s our aim.
But it’s also extremely important to be reflective of your work and grow as an evaluator and analyst. I’ve learned that from some important people over the last few years. And when it comes to ranking the Top 30 Diamondbacks prospects, arguably my favorite exercise of the season, it’s important to go back, read the old lists, the old reports and compare them to what you think at this present moment. Things change, obviously, but the goal is to become more refined each time out.
I produced this list in the winter of 2013 and again in the fall of 2014. Over that time, my thinking has progressed a great deal and I’m fine with that. Just as prospects evolve, so do our views and preferences. Relievers grow on trees and fill-in starters are everywhere. Teams can get these guys at a whim. But young outfielders with plus pop and a cannon arm are hard find, even if they strike out more than you’d like. Do you prefer the safety of a guy who will probably give you a little something at some point or a guy has the potential to be above average regular and, simultaneously, the potential wash out in AA? I don’t think it’ll take you long to find my preference.
*Note: if you’re unfamiliar with this process, I’d encourage you to look at last year’s primer.
As has taken place in the past, I’ll be releasing the Top 30 in batches of ten, the first of which (#30-#21) will be dropped later today. But there are certainly more than 30 prospects that got my attention. In fact, the list started with 58 names, and even those were a little hard to pin down. Below are some guys who didn’t make the final list who were at least in contention for it, or, I just felt like talking about them. This should, at the very least, tide you over for a couple of hours until the first list comes out.
The Cutting Room Floor
Zac Curtis, RHP, 23, Kane County (A)
Curtis is a Guy in the sense that he’s utterly dominated the competition. He’s also not a Guy in the sense that he spent all of his age-23 season in single A picking on hitters three to five years younger than him. He’s also a short right-hander, which just doesn’t tend to play well long term. Maybe he’s a middle reliever eventually, but at this point, he’s either going to have to pull a Silvino Bracho and jump four levels in a year or risk not getting his chance until he’s 26, and that’s not good (see below: Fleck, Kaleb).
Victor Reyes, LF, 21, Kane County (A)
Reyes was part of the Trevor Cahill deal, and the fact that he’s even listed here suggests that the trade was a success. The stroke is sweet from the switch-hitter and the light 6’3″ frame suggests that some power could come. At 21, time is on his side, but the lack of walks and the left field-only profile leaves a lot to be desired. The power will have to develop in a big way since the on-base percentage and defense don’t appear to be assets.
Jose Martinez, RHP, 21, Kane County (A)
It’s been a roller coaster for Martinez, who absolutely blew up hitters in 2013 only to have his arm and hamstring blow up in 2014 and 2015. What we know is that he’s a power arm from the right side with at least a little bit of command and two potentially plus pitches. What we also know is that he’s lost a ton of development time and the injury makes him more like to reside in the bullpen long term. There’s a huge range of outcomes here, as there’s always been, and the picture is unfortunately no more clear at this juncture.
Kaleb Fleck, RHP, 26, Reno (AAA)
Fleck was excellent in 2014 and more than serviceable in 2015, but here’s the problem: he’s going to be a 27-year old relief prospect when the 2016 season starts. We really can’t be betting on 27-year olds becoming impact players even if he does eventually crack into the majors and provide some useful innings 2016.
Ryan Burr, RHP, 21, Kane County (A)
Burr was the last one cut from the list, which should tell you that he could belong anywhere in the back 1/3 of it. After being plucked from Arizona State in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, he was excellent at Hillsboro and Kane County, albeit in a relatively small sample. So he’s a guy that isn’t on the Top 30 now, but as we gather more information (i.e. he pitches more), that could change pretty rapidly.
Others of Note
There were some strong debuts from Jhoan Duran, Franklyn Soriano and Juan Araujo in the DSL while some big bonus names scuffled there in Mailon Arroyo and Remy Cordero. Relievers Gabriel Moya and Luis Ramirez did nice things, but were old for their levels. Zach Borenstein and Evan Marzilli look like potentially useful bench outfielders, but nothing more.
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