The time has come to rank the top 30 Diamondbacks prospects as we head into 2016. A season that started in March for over a hundred minor league players has wrapped up (except for the handful of guys in the AFL) and there have surely been some big seasons. There have been a few disappointments, too, but that’s the nature of the game. And here, results only matter so much, especially in the low minors. Tools are extremely important, too, and we talked it all through in the Primer that was released earlier today (read that if you haven’t already). You know how this works, so let’s get to it.

#30: Dawel Lugo, SS

  • Age: 20
  • Acquired: 2015 trade for Cliff Pennignton
  • 2015 Level(s): A+ Dunedin (67 games), A Lansing (31 games), A Kane County (20 games)
  • 2014 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: High
  • Trending: Steady

Lugo is a hit-first shortstop that signed for $1.3 million by Toronto back in 2011. Scouts expect an eventual slide over to second or third, but the bat is what will carry Lugo. He was aggressively assigned to High-A Dunedin where he scuffled and was reassigned to A-ball after 67 games. From there, he hit far better, then did the same for Kane County once he came over. He hit .335 in 51 A-ball games and although the power didn’t show up, it’s expected that he hits for at least average power down the road. He doesn’t walk but doesn’t strike out a ton, either. As he progresses, he’ll have to become more patient. He’ll see High-A again as a 21-year old and he has everyday infielder upside if it all comes together.

#29: Carlos Hernandez, RHP

  • Age: 21
  • Acquired: 2012 International Sign ($15,000)
  • 2015 Level(s): A- Hillsboro (15 games, 15 starts)
  • 2014 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Up

Hernandez came seemingly out of nowhere to put together a very impressive campaign in the Northwest League. With a low 90’s fastball that can touch 94 and a potentially plus slider, he has two pitches that’ll play right now. The changeup is lagging for the stocky, 5’10” righty, but that didn’t keep him from striking out 93 runners in 85.1 innings. He made big adjustments this season after working with pitching coach Doug Drabek which helped him take a big leap forward after two mediocre stints in the Pioneer League in 2013 and 2014. The projection suggests a back end starter if the changeup comes around or a middle reliever if it doesn’t. We should get a long look in 2016 when he makes his way to Kane County.

#28: Daniel Gibson, LHP

  • Age: 24
  • Acquired: 2013 Draft, 7th Round
  • 2015 Level(s): A+ Visalila (27 games), AA Mobile (26 games)
  • 2014 Ranking: 28
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Steady

A University of Florida product, Gibson has made steady progress as a left-handed reliever. He’s shown an ability to dominate lefties although right-handed hitters still give him a fair amount of trouble. He has average stuff that plays up in the bullpen where he’s been effective. Some struggles in AA have shown that the 24-year old isn’t quite ready to rush up to the majors just yet as his control waned and so did the strikeouts. The upside is a middle reliever but he’ll most likely end up a left-handed specialist that can face a bottom of the order righty or two. He’s currently in the AFL and will likely be reassigned to AA to begin 2016.

#27: Sergio Alcantara, SS

  • Age: 19
  • Acquired: 2013 International Sign ($700,000)
  • 2015 Level(s): A Kane County (20 games), A- Hillsboro (71 games)
  • 2014 Ranking: 9
  • Volatility: High
  • Trending: Down

I overvalued Alcantara last year as he’d put together a pretty pedestrian season at the plate for Missoula but the glove appeared to be all-world. The glove hasn’t changed, but an assignment to Kane County proved too much for the 19-year old and he was demoted after just 20 games. At 5’9 and 170-pounds, the slightly-built, slick fielding shortstop fared better in Hillsboro, but still struggled to hit for extra bases yet again and, although he has range at short, he isn’t a burner on the bases. The glove is legit and he can absolutely pick it, but it’s starting to look more and more like he’ll struggle to hit enough to warrant a full time major league gig. He’s got time and he’s along way off, but this season was a disappointment. He’ll get another crack at Kane County in 2016.

#26: Anthony Banda, LHP

  • Age: 22
  • Acquired: 2014 trade for Gerardo Parra
  • 2015 Level(s): A+ Visalia (28 games, 27 starts)
  • 2014 Ranking: 23
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Steady

Pitching Visalia is every pitcher’s worst nightmare, but Banda survived the California League and did so in impressive fashion. He pitched a career-high 151.1 innings and struck out 152 while keeping his walks in check (just 39 all season). The stuff isn’t particularly effective as he sits in the low 90’s with his heat, but he’s shown enough command to get by. His ability to miss bats may not hold up as he climbs the ladder, but by not walking hitters, Banda can survive. The upside is that of a back end starter, and should he struggle, he could still produce as a spot starter or middle reliever. He’ll see AA Mobile in 2016 where he’ll once again be tested.

#25: Matt Railey, RF

  • Age: 20
  • Acquired: 2014 Draft, 3rd Round
  • 2015 Level(s): Rookie Missoula (19 games)
  • 2014 Ranking: 13
  • Volatility: High
  • Trending: Down

It’s difficult to strongly evaluate Railey given that he’s played just 34 professional games over two seasons. A blown hamstring derailed his 2014 campaign early, then a PED suspension got his 2015 campaign off to a slow start before a foot injury robbed even more games. The D-backs drew praise for plucking Railey in the 3rd round when many thought he could go in the middle of the second out of a Florida high school. He has potentially plus power, a reasonable ability to hit and good athleticism in right field. Should he put it all together, you can see an above average right fielder with an impact bat and at least average defense, but his inability to stay on the field has robbed him of valuable development time. He should begin 2016 in Kane County and look to get back on track.

#24: Colin Bray, CF

  • Age: 22
  • Acquired: 2013 Draft, 6th Round
  • 2015 Level(s): A Kane County (130 games)
  • 2014 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Up

Bray was in consideration for last year’s list before a broken foot shut him down, but he forced his way on this year with a strong 2015 campaign. At 6’4″ and 200-pounds, Bray is a good athlete who plays a strong defensive center field. This season, however, the bat started to really come around as hit for more average and more power. He swiped 27 bases and showed good plate control, too. With his physical frame and strong athleticism, the bat is the only thing that can hold him back. There’s some power projection left, and he could concievably get to average in that department if everything clicks. He’s got second division starter upside with a role as a 4th outfielder most likely. He’ll get to prove if his breakout is for real when he starts 2016 in Visalia.

#23: Jose Herrera, C

  • Age: 18
  • Acquired: 2013 International Sign ($1,060,000)
  • 2015 Level(s): Rookie AZL D-backs (24 games)
  • 2014 Ranking: 19
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Steady

It’s been a slow burn for Herrera (as it is for most players signed at 16), but he showed signs of growth in 2015. The switch-hitting catching prospect isn’t a big presence – he stands 5’10″and is a stocky 185-pounds. He’s noted for his defense as he has a strong arm behind the plate and relative lack of size helps him move around well. The bat has finally started to make some noise and scouts were impressed with the progress, although a foot injury in extended spring training robbed him of significant playing time (hence just 24 games played). He remains, however, the highest-bonus recipient outside of Yoan Lopez in some time for Arizona and at just 18, he very well may return to extended spring training and open his age-19 season in Missoula or Hillsboro.

#22: Jimmie Sherfy, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Acquired: 2013 Draft, 10th Round
  • 2015 Level(s): AA Mobile (15 games, 14 starts)
  • 2014 Ranking: 16
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Down

It was a tough season for Sherfy, the first in which he’s really struggled. He threw 38 innings in Mobile in 2014 to the tune of a 4.97 ERA with 45 K’s and 18 BB’s. It was his first taste of the upper minors and I expected him to find his groove in 2015. He did anything but that, notching an ugly 6.52 ERA in 49.2 innings as his K% dropped and his BB% increased. He was more hittable, too, as the funky right-hander struggled once again to put away left-handed hitters. He’s got a plus fastball and a plus slider, but he doesn’t throw enough strikes to maximize them. Instead, as he’s climbed the ladder, hitters are laying off and aren’t as routinely missing the ones left in the zone. Instead of looking like a potential setup man, it’s beginning to appear that he’ll be more of a middle relief matchup arm, which is of less value. He’ll take a third stab at AA to begin 2016.

#21: Cody Reed, LHP

  • Age: 19
  • Acquired: 2014 Draft, 2nd Round
  • 2015 Level(s): A- Hillsboro (
  • 2014 Ranking: 14
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Down

There are two ways to look at Cody Reed. The first acknowledges his very productive and, at times, dominant performance in the Northwest League, which might suggest that he’s front end starter in the making. The second acknowledges the limitations to his projection and factors in that scouts weren’t overly impressed with his stuff. The fastball that touched 96 in high school from the left side sat in the low 90’s this season. His conditioning is still being called into question and his secondary offerings are both below average at present and will have to improve for him to remain a starter. If he does, there’s an innings-eating lefty in there. If he doesn’t, Reed becomes a middle relief prospect with fringy secondaries. At 19, he has time to refine his pitches, but given his frame and build, there isn’t much physical projection left. He should begin 2016 in Kane County.

Other pieces in this series: Top 30 Primer | Prospects #11-20 | Prospects 1-10

Minor League Season Recaps: AZL and DSL | Pioneer and Northwest Leagues | Midwest and California Leagues | Southern and Pacific Coast Leagues

5 Responses to 2016 Diamondbacks Top 30 Prospects: 21-30

  1. Anonymous says:

    Cant figure out your reasoning on Banda. Cody reed physique at age 19? You guys have both those guys wrong.Carlos martinez is also the man to watch, lets hope he stays healthy.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      These are all good questions/concerns. I’d suggest that you can really order those guys however you prefer. Each has their own merits and warts. Banda’s doesn’t have the stuff to dominate but kmows how to use what he has. Reed is a robust 19-year old who could get way out of shape in a hurry as he ages. Hernandez has had only one good season and he’s not exactly projectable. Theses things matter. It’s not “who had the best 2015,” it’s who has the best chance to be the best eventual major league player. But the gap between these three is really small.

  2. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    Strikes me as a very good list so far. Thank you for this.

    I would say that Banda and Reed strike me as a little low. In Banda’s case, low 90s heat for a lefty with command plays just fine in MLB, actually. If Banda can do what he did in Visalia, he just might shine in Mobile. We’ll see.

    Certainly Sherfy is too high. There’s no reason to consider a failing AA reliever drafted in the 10th round and 23 years old as much of a prospect, is there?

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