Some seasons are forgettable, but the 2016 Diamondbacks season was simply disappointing beyond measure. There’s no use dwelling on it any further and if you’re anything like me, you’ve already shifted your attention to the future. Renewed optimism is in order after the hiring of GM Mike Hazen, and we even took the liberty to offer up some ideas for improvement for a ball club that stunk to historic levels. We’d be remiss to neglect a thorough run-through of the team’s minor league assets at this critical time. While this has been the most challenging crop of D-backs I’ve ever attempted to rank (recommended), it’s time to get the ball rolling on those rankings. This is a system that’s down and should rest squarely in the bottom third of baseball. Still, there are some intriguing guys to call out as the future of the franchise will need these players one way or another. Without any more throat-clearing, let’s dive right in. Usually I only rank 30 guys, but I just couldn’t cut off the list this time around, so you get a bonus player. Enjoy!

#31 Colin Bray, CF

  • Age (DOB): 23 (6/18/93)
  • Acquired: Drafted 6th round, 2013 (180th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): Single-A Kane County (20 games), High-A Visalia (109 games)
  • 2015 Ranking: 24
  • Volatility: High
  • Trending: Down

Bray is coming off of a tough season, one that saw him go through several peaks and prolonged valleys. A rough start to the 2016 campaign in the California League saw him eventually be sent down to the Midwest League where some things started to click at the plate. He was noticeable better once given another shot at the California League and finished the season with a strong showing in August. Across both levels, he hit .242/.317/.388 with 23 doubles, 12 homers and 25 stolen bases. He can play a fantastic center field defensively, so the pressure is on the bat. His swing can get long as he stands a long-limbed 6’3″ and he can be beaten inside. While he struck out plenty, he also walked nearly 9% of the time and with his speed, Bray’s always a threat to steal. He looks like your prototypical 4th outfielder long term, a guy that can play sparingly but fill in as a defensive replacement or pinch runner in the late innings. The upside has started to diminish and Bray will turn 24 next season, but his defense will keep him relevant.

Video courtesy of Today’s Knuckleball

#30 Fernery Ozuna, 3B

  • Age (DOB): 20 (11/9/95)
  • Acquired: 2012 International Sign ($85,000 bonus)
  • 2016 Level(s): Single-A Kane County (86 games)
  • 2015 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Up

The switch-hitting Ozuna has been an intriguing guy since getting signed at just 16. He’s short (5’8″) but physically mature, with some visible muscle and strength. He’s played both second and third during his time in the minors, but has an arm capable of playing third base. Defensively, his bat may not carry third, but he can play second well enough that it provides a reasonable fall-back option. That bat has shown steady progress, and for a guy his size, he’s got some sneaky power that’s started to really show up in games. In what amounts to just over half a season at Kane County, he notched 29 extra-base hits, including 17 doubles and 7 home runs. If over a full season he’d come roughly close to doubling those figures, he’d surely get more attention. Despite dealing with injuries, he was second on the team in doubles, first in triples (5), tied for first in home runs, and led the team in steals. Ozuna was promoted to High-A Visalia for their playoff run, a honor in its own right. He likely profiles best as a utility-type long term, but he plays the game with a ton of energy and has a well-rounded tool set, though not an overwhelming one. He turns 21 next month and should open the 2017 season in High-A Visalia.

Video courtesy of FanRag Sports

#29 Cody Reed, LHP

  • Age (D.OB): 20 (6/7/96)
  • Acquired: Drafted 2nd round, 2014 draft (54th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): Single-A Kane County (7 starts), High-A Visalia (7 starts)
  • 2015 Ranking: 21
  • Volatility: High
  • Trending: Down

Reed has always been a curious prospect. He was noted for being a big-bodied youngster back in 2015 when he was drafted, checking in at 6’3″ and over 250-pounds. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for projection, but after seeing Reed this spring at the Diamondbacks’ complex during Spring Training and hearing some reports, word started to spread that he’d lost some weight and got himself in shape. The results were staggering as he dominated Midwest League hitters, striking out 55 in under 40 innings pitched with a minuscule 1.82 ERA. He was quickly promoted to the California League where the results dipped in a big way and his velocity was notably low. Pitching in the mid to upper-80’s, he wasn’t getting anything by hitters and was quickly shut down with an injury that he never returned from. It’s unclear if he was pitching hurt, but reports on his velocity and stuff were uninspiring considering he was noted for touching the mid-90’s in high school. It’s hard to know what to make of Reed at this point. Perhaps he gets healthy and keeps dominating hitters, or, perhaps this is the new normal and he’s got strictly a relief profile. Things are cloudy at best, but there have been flashes of dominance that make him worth following for another year.

Video courtesy of Today’s Knuckleball

#28 Josh Taylor, LHP

  • Age (D.OB): 23 (3/20/93)
  • Acquired: 2015 trade from Philadelphia (with Chris Oliver and the #9 International Bonus Slot) for the #1 International Bonus Slot
  • 2016 Level(s): High-A Visalia (13 starts, 2 relief appearances), Double-A Mobile (11 starts)
  • 2015 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Steady

On the surface, Taylor’s numbers aren’t that encouraging. He put up a 5.65 ERA over 78 innings in High-A before a promotion to Double-A where he notched a 4.94 ERA over 54.2 innings. He struck out over eight batters per nine and kept his walks in check for the most part over his entire 2016 campaign, both good signs. He can touch the mid-90’s and it’s not as if 6’5″ lefties grow on trees. That said, he’s got a soft body and doesn’t have much left in the way of projection. His secondaries are just okay and both his change and slurvy breaking ball are often below average. Taylor’s future resides in the bullpen where he might be able to add a few more ticks of velocity and ditch one of his secondaries, focusing on fastball command and throwing just enough breaking balls or changeups to keep hitters honest. He’s got power arm potential that should play up out of the bullpen. It seems as if the team is content to let him keep starting for now and it won’t be a shock to see him open 2017 in the Double-A Jackson rotation. As currently constructed, he’s an up-and-down type as a starter but a potential middle inning arm in relief where he’s more likely to stick in the majors. Taylor is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League where he’s made two starts and pitched well aside from an untimely home run.

Video courtesy of FanGraphs

#27 Eudy Ramos, 3B

  • Age (D.OB): 20 (2/19/96)
  • Acquired: 2013 International Sign (bonus unknown)
  • 2016 Level(s): Rookie Missoula (52 games)
  • 2015 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Up

Ramos took a major leap forward in 2016, finding the hitter-friendly confines of the Pioneer League particularly cozy. Defensively, he played both first and third base in 2016, and there has to be some concern over his ability to stick at third long term. In a brief look this spring, he seemed passable there, but he’s got a mature body for a 20-year old and is certainly more quick than he is fast. The big improvement came at the plate, however, where he put together a .318/.373/.597 line that came along with a team-high 15 doubles and a team high 13 homers. That power came at a price, however, as he struck out over 34% of the time at the plate, which constitutes a red flag. He took more walks this season than ever before, but his ability to make contact is something to keep a close eye on. He’s young, however, and has already shown plus power, so perhaps as his approach matures, the strikeouts will fall. You can’t coach raw power and there’s still room for growth for Ramos, who was one of the true breakout players in the system this season.

Video courtesy of FanGraphs

#26 Tyler Mark, RHP

  • Age (D.OB): 22 (10/18/94)
  • Acquired: Drafted 6th round, 2015 (166th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): Low-A Hillsboro (15 starts), Single-A Kane County (4 starts, 3 relief appearances)
  • 2015 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Steady

Mark began the 2016 season in Kane County, getting his first taste of full season ball. He didn’t last long as he got shelled when leaving a few too many fastballs over the plate. He spent some time in Extended Spring Training, then got re-assigned to Hillsboro where he put up solid numbers, striking out nearly a batter per inning, limiting the walks, and pitching to a 3.91 ERA. He was able to use his low-90’s fastball effectively and get consistent swings and misses with his changeup, a pitch that was extremely effective for him in 2016. He wasn’t forced to throw his breaking ball much in Hillsboro and it needs refinement as it lags behind the fastball and changeup. Mark was a closer in college and should ultimately return to the bullpen where he’ll be most effective. Like Taylor above, his stuff should play up in that capacity and he can get away from his weaker pitches in the process. It’s a middle relief profile at the moment, unless something clicks in the offseason.

#25 Jared Miller, LHP

  • Age (D.OB): 23 (8/21/93)
  • Acquired: Drafted 11th round, 2014 (330th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): Single-A Kane County (9 relief appearances), High-A Visalia (12 relief appearances), Double-A Mobile (19 relief appearances), Triple-A Reno (5 relief appearances)
  • 2015 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Up

By now you’ve likely heard of Jared Miller, but if you hadn’t before mid season, that’s understandable. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2014 draft out of Vanderbilt where he bounced between the bullpen and the rotation. He pitched almost entirely as a starter in his first two pro seasons before shifting to the bullpen this year and catching lightening in a bottle, moving up four levels over the course of the season. He was absolutely dominant in the Midwest and California Leagues before being simply good in the Southern League and getting roughed up a little once he hit Triple-A. He throws a mid-90’s four-seamer from the left side and compliments it with a cutter and curve, which he recently spoke about. A hulking pitcher, he’s done a fantastic job generating ground balls out of the bullpen, and while he profiles best as a middle inning arm, he might just have a chance to build himself into a setup man when it’s all said and done. He’s a prime example of a pitcher who’s embraced the move to relief and made the most of it with his velocity higher and his stuff sharper. We need to see him repeat the effectiveness, but he’s currently pitching in the AFL and has been a monster with 14 strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings for the Rafters. Should he keep it up, it’s likely we see him start the year in Reno and force his way onto the big league roster at some point in 2017.

#24 Jack Reinheimer

Reinheimer spent the entire 2016 season with the Reno Aces in the Pacific Coast League and held his own offensively. Some players see a mirage of success in the PCL, but Reinheimer stayed consistent to what he’s produced in the past for the most part: a solid batting line that belongs down in the order. His best asset is his defensive ability at both shortstop and second base. He’s a smooth defender at short that won’t thrill you, but makes all of the plays he should. At second, he’s got better than average range and more than enough arm to get the job done. He lacks power, but has stolen 20 or more bases in every full minor league season he’s played. Reinheimer isn’t an impact talent, but he’s solid enough to eventually earn his way onto the roster in a utility role, backing up multiple infield positions. There’s value in that even if he’s not the kind of player to turn heads on a nightly basis. He’s as ready as he’ll ever be heading into 2017, and with decisions to be made about Nick Ahmed, Phil Gosselin and Chris Owings, Reinheimer could find his way onto the big league roster if the team decides to part with one of their incumbents.

#23 Jimmie Sherfy, RHP

  • Age (D.OB): 24 (12/27/91)
  • Acquired: Drafted 10th round, 2013 (300th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): High-A Visalia (12 relief appearances), Double-A Mobile (16 relief appearances), Triple-A Reno (24 relief appearances)
  • 2015 Ranking: 22
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Steady

Sherfy’s been a top D-backs relief prospect since he was drafted back in 2013. The funky righty was excellent in his debut and solid in his sophomore campaign before he struggled mightily last year. His stock was going the wrong way before the 2016 season began, but Sherfy was able to get back on track. He was sent to the California League where he was advanced for the competition and it showed. In the Southern League, he was even better, dominating Double-A hitters in a way he could never accomplish in 2015. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Reno where he was up and down, with the long season likely weighing on him some and a few fly balls that were outs in Mobile became home runs in Reno. That’s just how the PCL goes. Overall, it’s still an intriguing package with a plus fastball and a slider that can flash. Walks have always been the issue for Sherfy, but he cut them a little bit in 2016 as he tweaked his mechanics to be more consistent. He’s a 6th or 7th inning arm that should be aimed at righties long term, and turning 25 this winter, he should be a in the big league bullpen at some point in 2017.

Video courtesy of FanGraphs

#22 Jamie Westbrook, 2B

  • Age (D.OB): 21 (6/18/95)
  • Acquired: Drafted 5th round, 2013 (150th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): Double-A Mobile (122 games)
  • 2015 Ranking: 9
  • Volatility: Medium
  • Trending: Down

I’ve been a fan of Westbrook’s since I caught a few of his very first pro games in the AZL after he was drafted out of Basha High School in Gilbert. A local kid, he played hard had an ability to square of the few strikes he was thrown. In subsequent years, he’s performed very well and risen through the system with steady progress. Scouts have been lukewarm on Westbrook because his tools aren’t loud; there’s no overwhelming tool to carry his career. The hit, power, glove, run, and field are all average or below and there’s just nothing that stands out. Still, he’s made the most of what he has, though he finally hit some tough sledding in Double-A. He played the first half of the season at just 20-years old, which is young for the level, and got off to a horrendous start, then picked it up a little before sort of going silently in the night, ending the year with a .262/.312/.349 line and fewer extra-base hits than in years past. Overall, it’s probably a second-division starter’s profile at second base where the defense is just okay and the bat relies on plenty of well-placed balls to stay afloat. There’s some power in there, but it’s below average and he’s not a threat to rack up high stolen bases totals. This was the first taste of failure for Westbrook, and he rebounded well midseason. It’s yet to be seen if this is just a bump in the road or if the lack of tools have finally reached a level of competition that make it hard for him to succeed. We’ll learn more in 2017, where he should open the year back in Double-A. Westbrook is currently representing the Diamondbacks in the Arizona Fall League where he’s hit well in five games.

Video courtesy of Aaron Thorn

#21 Ryan January, C/OF

  • Age (D.OB): 19 (5/27/97)
  • Acquired: Drafted 8th round, 2016 (239th overall)
  • 2016 Level(s): Rookie Missoula (51 games)
  • 2015 Ranking: n/a
  • Volatility: High
  • Trending: Up

The Diamondbacks drew praise for plucking January from one of the top JUCO programs in the country last June. Snagging him in the 8th round, he immediately headed to Missoula of Pioneer League and proceeded to hit. I got a look at him during D-backs Mini Camp for a few days before the Missoula Season began and was immediately impressed with a couple of things. Physically, he’s got plenty of room to add strength and bulk to his frame, but he’s already got plus raw power in the batter’s box. He’s currently a long ways from filled out and I was actually surprised to see such a slender player listed as a catcher (he didn’t catch in my looks). Even when drafted, it was noted that his catching ability was behind the bat in terms of development and just judging from the way the team deployed him in his debut season, there’s plenty of work to do. January was on a team with two other catchers on the roster, so he saw action at several other positions, including the outfield and DH. He’s got the athleticism to cover left field, but he’s currently raw there and will need to improve his jumps and routes if that’s where he ends up. He struck out plenty in his debut and cooled off down the stretch, likely an effect of the long season, but showed good patience in walking almost 13% of the time. It’s unclear just where he ends up, but I’m not betting on it being behind the plate. There’s a long way to go here, but there’s plenty to like, too, and it’ll be intriguing to see what kind of player January grows into.

Other installments: Primer  |  Prospects 11-20  |  Prospects 1-10

13 Responses to 2017 Diamondbacks Top Prospects: #21-31

  1. Steve says:

    Is there any notes on the undrafted FA out of FSU? Ben Deluzio? I’ve heard good things about his progress, speed, and defense.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      He wasn’t in the lineup for any of the Hops games I saw, but in speaking with someone from the team, they were impressed with his approach and it showed in his contact-oriented approach. He had a nice debut with the club after he was originally drafted by Miami in the 3rd round.

      • Steve says:

        Thanks, Jeff. Appreciate your analyses on the website. Very insightful.

      • Once both the parties decide to “fight it out” by “violence” or Whatever new terminology Vinavu and his “Thozharkal” uses for that… settle it that way.Why wasting so much of time by doing “therumunai Pracharam” etc etc… One thing is very clear : Vinavu is trying very hard to justify the violence in Maruti but somehow it is going in vain. Again this is also not a surprise as vinavu always try to justify something wrong in the name of “Puratchikara Sinthanai”

      • Will you be are generally writer? For some reason I actually associate this form of composing. Or perhaps you patterned this for my favorite correspondent; ) Another thing is certain: I adore how you will publish content similar to this!

  2. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    I knew you wouldn’t be able to leave off Bray!

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      LOL! I have a belief that he’s a contributor defensively and he’s drawn consistently rave reviews for his defense. If nothing else, he’s a bench player or a up/down guy who can help in the event of injury. We just gave ~300 AB’s to Michael Bourn…

  3. Ernest says:

    Did Visalia’s Moya, Baker or Jeter get any consideration for top 30. All 3 have performed well in the bullpen for the last three years.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      Of the trio, Moya’s the one I’ve followed most closely. He’s not a big guy, but he’s a lefty that’s put together good results in his age-21 season. Jeter has been good, but he’s older than you’d like to see in High-A. Same for Baker. There are just so many MiLB relief arms, they literally grow on trees. And, the future value is rarely high. This keeps relievers off these kinds of list in general, and I’m already somewhat uncomfortable with a handful of guys who start now, but likely end up relievers, on this list already. If Moya repeats his performance in AA next year, he’ll really start popping up on lists.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Shefy = bryan shaw hard to move him up the list, but he has that pls get out of a jam utility guy, look about him.

  5. […] 2017 Diamondbacks Top Prospects: #21-31 […]

  6. […] season has arrived and in case you missed it, we rolled out the rankings for prospects #11-20 and #21-31 last week. Those lists are full of intriguing players, some that are homegrown and others that have […]

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