Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: Jazz led Minor League shortstops in home runs a year ago, although some of those numbers are slightly inflated as a bunch came while in the California League. He has a left handed stroke that provides natural loft to the ball and his plus raw power did turn into game power a season ago regardless of the league he was in., He will strike out more than you like from a guy who plays up the middle, but he makes enough contact he should be able to put up an average around .275. There is no doubt he will stay at short where he has excellent instincts that help make up for his average speed and range. When he gets to the ball he has soft hand and quick hips with a strong arm that will allow him to be an above average fielder while providing rare power from the shortstop position.
Quick Report: Duplantier fell to the third round of the 2016 draft after injury concerns despite having a good Junior year. 2017 was his only season that he was fully healthy throughout, although he finished last season off strong with a good performance in the AFL. He has an upright delivery but the arm comes out of a low 3/4 slot that allows his mid-90s fastball to really run making it play as plus. He has a slider that is currently above average but could become a plus pitch to go with a solid curve and a change that has flashed above average. He has surprising command for the arm slot and odd delivery, but he repeats well and can spot all four pitches when needed. He doesn’t have the greatest ceiling, but there is a good chance he carves a role for himself as a number three starter and should get the chance to show what he can do at the highest level this season.
Quick Report: The second Bahamian prospect on the list (Jazz Chisholm being the other) Robinson has as much upside as anyone currently in the Diamondbacks system. His raw power is plus plus, while his game power will likely settle in at “just” plus. He has an advanced approach at the plate that should allow him to tap into that raw power sooner than later, and the quick bat and direct bat path will allow him to put up a solid average. There is some thought he will have to move off center as he grows, but he currently has the athleticism and reads to stay there. If he does move off the position in the future he has more than enough arm to stay in right where his power bat will play well. Folks in the desert should be seeing an all-Bahamas middle of the order in a few years.
Quick Report: The third piece of the D-Backs trio that helped lead Salt River to the AFL title game that lost to Peoria in walk off fashion. The big question on Varsho is whether or not he can stick behind the plate where his arm is below average and receiving ability still needs some work. He has plus athleticism for a catcher as he runs above average regardless of the position, so his footwork prevents him from being a liability in controlling the running game and has actually become very good at throwing runners out. He keeps the ball ahead of him really well behind the plate so I feel he can stick. If he moves off catcher he has enough athleticism many feel he can play the outfield and possibly even second base. Regardless of where he lands his bat will play, as he will have average power but a smooth and controlled swing will make him a sneaky good two hole hitter that makes him an above average regular if he sticks behind the plate.
Quick Report: Drafted in the 12th round as a reliever at South Carolina by the Yankees in 2016, the D-Backs acquired him along with Steven Souza Jr. in the three-team deal that also included the Rays. Widener was moved to the rotation by the Yankees and has stuck as a starter ever since where he can sit up to 94 with his fastball. He also has a slider that has two different shapes, a big slider and sharp cutter, and a change that is an above average offering. There is some effort to his delivery and he fights across his body some, but the command is solid and the lower 3/4 slot helps create movement and deception. He may eventually end up back in the bullpen, but he also has the upside of sticking as a starter and being a mid-rotation arm.
Quick Report: The Diamondbacks didn’t sign first round pick Matt McLain a season ago, so Alek Thomas, their second round pick, signed for above slot value thanks to the next guy on the list signing for just below. Thomas will never be a power hitter, despite him homering in a Spring Training game last week against the White Sox, where his dad Allen is the strength and conditioning coach leading to a really cool interaction. The hit tool is impressive and, when combined with his plus speed, could allow him to turn into a quality leadoff bat someday. The defense is good enough to stay in center, although his arm is well below average and may see him relegated to left field where he could be an elite defender at the position.
Quick Report: The Diamondbacks signed McCarthy for just below slot value last year after he missed a good chunk of his final season at Virginia with a broken wrist. He and Thomas actually have a very similar profile as bat first guys with limited power, good speed and defense. McCarthy’s arm is below average, but not as far below average as Thomas so there is a better chance McCarthy can stick in center. The bat is quick and there is a good plane to his bat path, so there is hope he can add strength and develop into double digit power, but chances are he is more of a fourth outfielder type long term.
Quick Report: One of the surprises in the draft a season ago was Blaze Alexander slipping to the 11th round, where most figured he would head to South Carolina for college, but Arizona went up to a half million to sign him away from the commitment and it looks like a good move. He has as much arm as you will find from a shortstop, with some dropping an 80 grade on the arm. There is some concern he eventually moves off short as he fills out since he doesn’t have elite speed or quickness to start with, although I think there is a good shot he sticks. He is bat first with limited power, but there is enough projectable strength in the frame to think he could develop into just enough power to play at third if he eventually moves off short. Ultimately, the development of power will be the determining factor of Alexander’s upside, where the arm and athleticism could make him an elite utility option when all is said and done.
Quick Report: There is no doubt Perdomo will stick at short, where he could be a plus defender, the question on him is how much he will hit. The bat can take a long time to get through the zone, so he will likely struggle with velocity as he reaches the higher levels, but you can’t complain about his production so far, hitting over .300 at each of his three levels a season ago. If he can quicken the bat and continue making solid contact into the upper levels, he could develop into an everyday type player, but he will never be a guy who hits at the top of the order. There is very little power in the bat and not much in terms of projection either. Ultimately, he is a defense first shortstop that is most likely a utility guy than a future everyday option.
Quick Report: There is a wide variety of opinions on Smith, mostly coming as questions as to what his bat projects to become. He hit for more power than most expected a season ago, but that came at the expense of his contact rate as he was more of a pull hitter than he was in college. At his best, he is a guy with a solid approach who can drive the ball to all fields, mostly as doubles power. He would not be the first player who looked to sell out for more power in the California league, so a promotion to AA this season should come with a correction to his approach and a better batting average. He has plenty of natural strength that should allow him to hit for 20+ home runs, and he is a solid defender at first. He is a guy who could jump up this list a year from now, but if the approach doesn’t change he could also fall off it.