A trip to the 2017 postseason capped the first of three straight winning seasons for the D-backs, and many expected the team to compete for a postseason berth again in 2020 after acquiring Starling Marte in the offseason.
But things didn’t play out for the D-backs as they’d hoped in this year’s shortened regular season, as the team’s early struggles in an increasingly competitive division precipitated the decision to deal Marte and closer Archie Bradley at the Trade Deadline. And while winning five of their final six games may have helped cushion the blow at the end of a disappointing season, the team’s 25-35 record and last-place finish in the National League West most certainly did not.
But there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the D-backs in 2021 and beyond -- chief among them: a farm system that is loaded with both high-ceiling and high-probability prospects.
The team’s four Top 100 prospects -- all position players -- headline the former group, and there are several others in the system who, given their physical tools and talent, could soon enter the Top 100 conversation. The D-backs have as much quality pitching depth as just about any organization, with waves of future big league hurlers staggered throughout the system.
And for those wondering about the D-backs’ slight dip in MLB Pipeline’s midseason farm rankings, from No. 5 in 2019 to No. 9 in 2020, that can be mostly chalked up to the team having traded away a pair of top 10 prospects (SS Liover Peguero, RHP Brennan Malone) to Pittsburgh in the Marte deal.
FARM SYSTEM RANKINGS
2020 Midseason: 9 | Preseason: 6
2019 Midseason: 5 | Preseason: NR
2018 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2017 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2016 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2015 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
Only the top 10 systems were ranked from 2015 to 2019 preseason; the top 15 systems were ranked 2019 midseason.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
Waivers: Taylor Guilbeau, LHP; Rogelio Armenteros, RHP
A year removed from drafting six pitchers in the first five rounds, the D-backs targeted hurlers once again in the 2020 Draft, selecting one with four of their five picks. When it was over, they had landed three pitchers from MLB Pipeline’s Draft Top 200 in Jarvis, Cecconi and Norris, the club’s first three picks, and another in Vukovich, a prep slugger whom Arizona signed for $1.25 million, well over twice slot value for the No. 119 overall pick ($483,000). Beasley (acquired from Angels for Matt Andriese) reached the big leagues in his first year with the club, and Mejia made three starts for Miami before joining the D-backs with Simon in the Marte trade. Fairchild is a well-rounded, versatile outfielder with Double-A experience who could contribute next year. Both Guilbeau (claimed from Mariners) and Armenteros (Astros) have seen time in the Majors and give the D-backs a pair of low-risk, cost-controlled options.
2021 IMPACT PROSPECT
Corbin Martin, RHP: When Arizona acquired Martin, along with three other players from Houston for Zack Greinke, at the 2019 Trade Deadline, he was less than a month removed from having Tommy John surgery. Before getting hurt, the 24-year-old righty had showed mid-rotation upside with his size, across-the-board stuff and natural bat-missing ability. After rehabbing the injury with no issues this summer at the alternate training site, Martin could soon become a long-term fixture in Arizona’s rotation.
2022 TOP PROSPECT
Kristian Robinson, OF: Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers last year while ascending from Class A Short Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an exceptional all-around set of tools and gives him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects.
Hit: Corbin Carroll
Power: Kristian Robinson
Run: Corbin Carroll
Arm: Blaze Alexander
Field: Geraldo Perdomo
Best athlete: Corbin Carroll
Fastball: Ryne Nelson
Curveball: Blake Walston
Slider: Levi Kelly
Changeup: Tyler Holton
Control: Tommy Henry
How the Top 30 Was Built
Having seven of the first 75 picks in the 2019 Draft did wonders for Arizona’s system, infusing a blend of high-ceiling prep prospects and more polished college players into a system that was already on the rise. They took a similar approach this year, nabbing two premium college right-handers and a potential steal in power-hitting A.J. Vukovich (No. 29). Targeting plus athletes on the international market has netted the D-backs Top 100 prospects Kristian Robinson and Geraldo Perdomo as well as high-ceiling talents Wilderd Patiño (No. 11) and Jeferson Espinal (No. 26), and they’ve also found some projectable young pitchers in Luis Frias (No. 8) and Justin Martinez (No. 25). Corbin Martin (No. 6), J.B. Bukauskas (No. 10) and Seth Beer (No. 14) were acquired from Houston in the Zack Grienke deal, and the club picked up Stuart Fairchild (No. 13), Andy Young (No. 17) and Humberto Mejia (No. 30) in separate deals with the Reds, Cardinals and Marlins, respectively.
Top 30 by Position
With Top 100 prospects Kristian Robinson, Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll in three of the top four spots on their Top 30, the D-backs have one of the finest collections of young outfielders in the game. The organization is also deep on the mound, as pitchers comprise more than half of the Top 30, as well as half of the top 15. Seven of the team’s Top 30 hurlers are products of the team’s past two Drafts -- a group led by Blake Walston (No. 5) and Bryce Jarvis (No. 7), the respective first-round picks in 2019-20, and Slade Cecconi (No. 12), a standout at the D-backs alternate training site this summer after signing as the No. 33 pick. All that quality pitching depth should come in handy for the organization that has come to covet young, cost-controlled starters in recent years.