Keep an eye on these prospects at each level of D-backs' system

April 4th, 2024

The D-backs dropped in MLB Pipeline’s farm system rankings this spring thanks to the graduations of players like NL Rookie of the Year Award winner Corbin Carroll and right-hander Brandon Pfaadt, who came up big for Arizona during last year’s run to the World Series.

That doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare -- far from it -- as the D-backs feature three players among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects: shortstops Jordan Lawlar (No. 11) and Tommy Troy (No. 70) and outfielder Druw Jones (No. 74) .

“It’s in a really good place,” first-year farm director Shaun Larkin said. “It’s an exciting time to be a D-back right now.”

With the Minor League seasons getting underway, here’s a preview of what to watch in the Arizona system:

Triple-A Reno Aces

Player to Watch: SS Jordan Lawlar (No. 1 D-backs prospect)

You’ll have to wait just a bit to watch Lawlar, who injured his right thumb towards the end of Spring Training and could miss the first couple months of the season. He certainly is a candidate to be on the big league club once he is healthy and playing again.

Pitcher to Watch: RHP Cristian Mena (No. 11)

The D-backs were excited to be able to get Mena in an offseason trade with the White Sox. Hazen said at the time of the deal that the D-backs liked Mena's slider and curveball, and his changeup was a work in progress. He’s not a finished product, but the D-backs are intrigued by what he could be.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: 1B Deyvison De Los Santos (No. 14), RHP Slade Cecconi (No. 18), LHP Andrew Saalfrank (No. 26), RHP Justin Martinez (No. 27), LHP Blake Walston (No. 28)

Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles

Opening Day: Friday, 5:05 p.m. MST, vs. San Antonio

Player to Watch: OF Kristian Robinson (No. 17)

Robinson once ranked among best of the D-backs' prospects, but he missed more than two full seasons due to the pandemic and some legal issues. Robinson had a solid last couple months of the season last year and he looked good in Spring Training. He still has a world of talent and the D-backs are hopeful he taps into it.

Pitcher to Watch: LHP Yu-Min Lin (No. 4)

Lin was roughed up a bit during Spring Training, but he showed his stuff in the Spring Breakout game against the Rockies' top prospects. Lin said at the time that he was trying to get comfortable in big league camp, but when he pitched in the Spring Breakout game, he was free to just compete.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: 3B Ivan Melendez (No. 8), RHP Dylan Ray (No. 9), OF A.J. Vukovich (No. 15), RHP Yilber Diaz (No. 16)

High-A Hillsboro Hops

Opening Day: Friday, 6:35 p.m. MST, vs. Everett

Player to Watch: SS Tommy Troy (No. 2)

Troy can flat out hit and is a tremendous competitor. The D-backs took him with their first-round pick in last year’s MLB Draft and expect that he will move quickly through the system. He’s going to play shortstop for now, but his bat could play at third or second if need be.

Pitcher to Watch: RHP Ricardo Yan (No. 23)

Yan gets a ton of movement on his pitches throwing from a lower arm slot. His fastball velocity plays up because of the way the sinker runs in on the hands of right-handed hitters. He will head up a really good pitching staff.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: 3B Gino Groover (No. 5), OF Jack Hurley (No. 13)

Single-A Visalia Rawhide

Opening Day: Friday, 6:35 p.m. MST, at Inland Empire

Player to Watch: OF Druw Jones (No. 3)

Jones is an elite defender and the D-backs believe he could play center field in the big leagues today. He uncorked a 94 mph throw from center during the Spring Breakout game. Offensively, though, he is still a work in progress and injuries have limited his playing opportunities the past two seasons.

Pitcher to Watch: RHP Landon Sims (No. 24)

The D-backs selected Sims 34th overall in the 2022 MLB Draft and signed him above slot despite the fact that he had just undergone Tommy John surgery. That’s because they loved his pure stuff. He made his professional debut and last June and ended up making 15 appearances between the Arizona Complex League and Visalia.

Other Top 30 prospects on the roster: SS/2B Jansel Luis (No. 6), SS/2B Cristofer Torin (No. 7)