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Duplantier, Smith among Top 100 Prospects

MLB.com

Jon Duplantier and Pavin Smith keep progressing, and not only are they the headliners of the D-backs' farm system, they're among the top prospects in all of baseball.

Duplantier and Smith are Arizona's representatives in MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 100 Prospects list, which was unveiled Saturday night on MLB Network. The 23-year-old right-hander Duplantier ranks as MLB's No. 73 prospect. The 21-year-old first baseman Smith comes in at No. 91 overall.

Jon Duplantier and Pavin Smith keep progressing, and not only are they the headliners of the D-backs' farm system, they're among the top prospects in all of baseball.

Duplantier and Smith are Arizona's representatives in MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 100 Prospects list, which was unveiled Saturday night on MLB Network. The 23-year-old right-hander Duplantier ranks as MLB's No. 73 prospect. The 21-year-old first baseman Smith comes in at No. 91 overall.

• MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 100 Prospects list

:: Complete 2018 Top Prospects coverage ::

The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2018 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 25 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.

The D-backs drafted Duplantier in the third round in 2016, and he continues to ascend the prospect rankings while dominating in the Minor Leagues. Duplantier has moved up more than 20 spots on the Top 100 list, after being rated MLB's 96th overall prospect in 2017.

Video: Duplantier is D-backs' Pipeline pitcher of the year

The 6-foot-4 righty was stellar last year after elbow soreness shut him down in 2016. With Class A Kane County and Class A Advanced Visalia, Duplantier went a combined 12-3 with a 1.39 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 136 innings. He was named to the All-Star Futures Game.

Duplantier combines a sinking fastball that can reach the mid-90s with a power curve and a changeup, and he even added a slider to his repertoire in 2017. His athleticism, stuff and command give him a frontline starter ceiling.

Smith was the seventh overall pick in last year's Draft, and he rates as one of the top first-base prospects in the game. The D-backs are excited about how Smith has developed in his first half-season in the Minors.

Video: Top Prospects: Pavin Smith, 1B, D-backs

The 6-foot-2 left-handed hitter has an advanced approach at the plate, and he showed it off in his professional debut in 2017. Smith hit .318/.401/.415 over 51 games at Class A Short Season Hillsboro, good for an .816 OPS. He didn't hit his first home run until the end of the postseason, but the power could still come.

Smith can drive the ball to all fields, and he rarely swings and misses -- he walked more times (27) than he struck out (24) in '17. Arizona also likes his play at first base, where he has good footwork, soft hands and a strong arm.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Smith ranked 3rd among first-base prospects

D-backs impressed with feel for strike zone in 1st pro season
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- When the D-backs selected Pavin Smith with the No. 7 overall pick in last year's Draft, the club believed his ability to hit at the University of Virginia would translate to pro ball.

That proved to be the case as Smith slashed .318/.401/.415 in 222 plate appearances in 2017 for Class A Short Season Hillsboro of the Northwest League.

PHOENIX -- When the D-backs selected Pavin Smith with the No. 7 overall pick in last year's Draft, the club believed his ability to hit at the University of Virginia would translate to pro ball.

That proved to be the case as Smith slashed .318/.401/.415 in 222 plate appearances in 2017 for Class A Short Season Hillsboro of the Northwest League.

Smith ranks as the No. 3 prospect at first base in the MLB Pipeline Top 10 behind Brendan McKay of the Rays and Ryan McMahon of the Rockies.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

"He just has the ability to take a professional at-bat," D-backs farm director Mike Bell said. "He swings at good pitches, he's able to lay off the bad ones and that's ultimately what you want to do as a hitter. He's just got a really good feel to hit and knows how to put together a good at-bat. He's just a mature hitter."

The 21-year-old Smith demonstrated his feel for the strike zone with 27 walks and just 24 strikeouts.

"That's hard to do and it's even harder to do in your first year," Bell said. "That's extremely impressive."

Defensively, Smith has shown good footwork around the bag to go with soft hands and a strong arm.

"You don't think about that too much from a first baseman," Bell said of Smith's arm. "But it's important to have that and he's got a strong, accurate arm."

The one thing Smith did not show his first year of pro ball was power. He hit 13 homers in his final year for the Cavaliers, but he did not hit one with Hillsboro, though Smith did have 15 doubles.

"I know he didn't hit for power, but it's in there," Bell said. "The ball comes off his bat really well. He finds the barrel plenty. The power will come. He's going to hit some home runs. He finds the barrel too much and hits the ball too hard not to."

As a polished college hitter, Smith is likely going to be a quick riser through the system. With Paul Goldschmidt under contract for the next two seasons there is no reason to rush Smith, but there seems little doubt he's on his way.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Clarke keeps climbing D-backs' ladder

MLB.com

Taylor Clarke will get his first taste of the big leagues next month when he joins D-backs pitchers and catchers at Salt River Fields as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.

The right-handed Clarke, who was selected in the third round of the 2015 Draft, has made a steady rise through the Arizona system, topping out at Triple-A Reno in 2017.

Taylor Clarke will get his first taste of the big leagues next month when he joins D-backs pitchers and catchers at Salt River Fields as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.

The right-handed Clarke, who was selected in the third round of the 2015 Draft, has made a steady rise through the Arizona system, topping out at Triple-A Reno in 2017.

The D-backs' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline began last year at Double-A Jackson, where he finished the 2016 season.

That gave him an extra dose of confidence heading into the season and some comfort of knowing what to expect. Clarke was a Southern League All-Star selection and wound up being promoted to Reno and the Pacific Coast League at the end of July.

"Obviously going from the Southern League to the PCL is a little bit like night and day," Clarke said recently at Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program.

Whereas the Southern League is more pitcher friendly, the PCL is the opposite, especially at a place such as Reno where the ball tends to travel.

Clarke posted a 4.81 ERA in six starts for Reno, quite a difference from the 2.91 ERA he had at Jackson and the 3.31 ERA he tallied over three stops in 2016. That didn't discourage him, though; it just taught him some valuable lessons.

Video: Top Prospects: Taylor Clarke, RHP, D-backs

"You've got to really minimize your mistakes and make quality pitches," Clarke said of being successful in the PCL. "You don't want to shy away from your strengths and try to become someone you're not. I consider myself a little bit more of a fly ball pitcher, try to pitch up in the zone, which kind of doesn't work to my advantage in Reno and out there, but it's one of those things you make a mistake, move on and learn from it."

Clarke, 24, will likely open the 2018 season at Reno, but D-backs general Mike Hazen cited him as a possible rotation contributor later in the year if Arizona has a need and if Clarke is pitching well.

"I don't think that there's anything that I need to do differently," Clarke said of making the next step. "Just be more stay consistent and be the same guy that I've been the last two or three years. Just go out there, play my game and control what I can control and hope it works out."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs will look to rotation to set tone in 2018

MLB.com

The D-backs' huge turnaround last season was spurred by an improved pitching staff, and the starting rotation set the tone for that.

While ERA has its limitations as a stat, it does provide a peek into just how much better Arizona's starting staff was in 2017.

The D-backs' huge turnaround last season was spurred by an improved pitching staff, and the starting rotation set the tone for that.

While ERA has its limitations as a stat, it does provide a peek into just how much better Arizona's starting staff was in 2017.

After finishing with a 5.19 ERA in 2016, which was 29th in the Majors, the D-backs' starters compiled a 3.61 mark in 2017, third best in all of baseball.

The D-backs' success in 2017 began with its starters, and if the team is to once again make a postseason run, the rotation will be expected to lead the way. MLB.com is taking a look at the projected rotation of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the D-backs might stack up:

ROTATION IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
RHP Zack Greinke
LHP Robbie Ray
RHP Taijuan Walker
LHP Patrick Corbin
RHP Zack Godley

STRENGTH
The D-backs head to Spring Training with their rotation already in place. Once of this group's strengths was its ability to pitch deep into games in 2017, something manager Torey Lovullo encouraged. The 2016 version ranked 20th in the Majors in innings pitched, but last year's group tossed a combined 941 1/3 innings, fourth most in MLB.

Video: Ray to be key starter for D-backs in 2018

By compiling that many innings, the starters put less pressure on the bullpen, and as a result, the 'pen responded with a much better year as well.

In Greinke and Ray, the D-backs have a pair of aces at the top of the rotation. Walker took a step forward in 2017, while Corbin bounced back from a disappointing '16 and Godley came out of nowhere to fill in for the injured Shelby Miller, delivering quality start after quality start.

QUESTION MARK
The D-backs don't have a ton of starting-pitching depth after the first five, especially with Archie Bradley seemingly ticketed for the bullpen again.

Miller will not be back until midseason as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, so the team would need to rely on its farm system for any help until then.

Video: ARI@SF: Banda whiffs seven over six solid innings

Left-hander Anthony Banda and righty Braden Shipley both made starts for the team in 2017 and would seem to be the first backup options at this point. Matt Koch could also get a look. Another couple of names to keep an eye on are righties Jon Duplantier and Taylor Clarke, who are ranked as the team's No. 2 and 3 prospects, respectively, by MLB Pipeline, but will likely not be ready until later in the season, if not '19.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
There is still a chance the D-backs will deal one of their starters before camp opens, with the two names mentioned most this winter being Greinke and Corbin.

Dealing Greinke still seems unlikely given the four years and $126.5 million he has left on his contract. With the D-backs looking to contend in 2018, would they really feel comfortable dealing their ace?

Video: Gilbert on D-backs reportedly dangling Greinke

Corbin, on the other hand, is set to make more than $8 million in his final year of arbitration, and if the team were to deal him it would free up some money to improve in other areas.

Before dealing a starter, though, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen made it clear during the Winter Meetings that the team needs to feel it could acquire a replacement.

"There would have to be some other path that you would feel comfortable you'd be able to replace that starting pitcher with," Hazen said. "Wherever that was, I would like to have a plan in place if we did that."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Brito injures finger in Winter League play

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- D-backs outfielder Socrates Brito sustained a possible fracture of his right pinkie finger while playing for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic.

D-backs GM Mike Hazen said Brito will be examined by the team's doctors before a diagnosis can be confirmed.

PHOENIX -- D-backs outfielder Socrates Brito sustained a possible fracture of his right pinkie finger while playing for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic.

D-backs GM Mike Hazen said Brito will be examined by the team's doctors before a diagnosis can be confirmed.

Brito dislocated his left ring finger during Spring Training last year and missed the first 2 1/2 months of the regular season. When he returned, he slashed .291/.336/.449 in 78 games for Triple-A Reno.

In 173 plate appearances for Estrellas, Brito was hitting .294/.355/.464.

Heading into the offseason, Brito was a candidate for a backup outfield spot on the D-backs' 2018 big league roster. It's not known whether this injury will impact that.

Brito is rated by MLBPipeline.com as the D-backs' No. 10 prospect.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Socrates Brito

D-backs nab Suarez from Giants in Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs picked up another arm for their bullpen in the Major League portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft as they selected right-hander Albert Suarez from the Giants.

Suarez has appeared in 40 games (12 starts) for the Giants over the past two seasons going 3-8 with a 4.51 ERA.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs picked up another arm for their bullpen in the Major League portion of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft as they selected right-hander Albert Suarez from the Giants.

Suarez has appeared in 40 games (12 starts) for the Giants over the past two seasons going 3-8 with a 4.51 ERA.

The D-backs got an up close look at Suarez last season as four of his 18 relief appearances came against Arizona. The 28-year-old certainly impressed in those outings tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings and notching the lone save of his big league career.

"Looking at the construction of our bullpen, watching how the market was developing, we felt like it was a good opportunity," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "It's not a development situation for us. We feel like we can plug him right in and he can realistically compete. Sometimes in these situations we bring guys in from Double-A and Triple-A, but he's pitched in the big leagues and we like his stuff. He's got a good curveball. We think he could slot right into the competition that we're going to have next year."

:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

Suarez was non-tendered by the Giants earlier this month and was re-signed by the Giants to a Minor League deal. At the time the D-backs attempted to sign him as well, but he opted to go back to San Francisco.

The D-backs, as expected, lost a pair of players in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft as well.

Outfielder Victor Reyes went first overall to the Tigers.

"Best of luck to him," Hazen said. "He's a great kid. From a protection standpoint we felt like it wasn't the right time to put him on the roster and we'll see. He'll have an opportunity over there I would imagine and good for him."

Right-hander Brad Keller was selected by the Reds.

"It was a tough decision for us not to protecting him," Hazen said. "We'll see. He's got a good arm. He made some improvements at the end of the season, stuff ticked up a little bit at the end of the year. We made that choice not to protect him and we'll see how he does in Spring Training."

Teams must keep Rule 5 selections in the big leagues for the entire season or offer them back to their original team for half of the $100,000 selection fee.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs acquire Boxberger in trade with Rays

Arizona sends right-handed prospect Taylor to Tampa Bay
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The D-backs added to their bullpen Thursday by acquiring right-hander Brad Boxberger from the Rays in exchange for Minor League right-hander Curtis Taylor.

"Going into the offseason, we knew we needed to focus on supplementing the bullpen, adding to the back end of the bullpen specifically," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "And we feel like he fits all that stuff for us. He has the ability to close, he has the ability to pitch in late/leverage roles and we still maintain our flexibility in terms of who else we may add to the bullpen. We think he's an important piece."

PHOENIX -- The D-backs added to their bullpen Thursday by acquiring right-hander Brad Boxberger from the Rays in exchange for Minor League right-hander Curtis Taylor.

"Going into the offseason, we knew we needed to focus on supplementing the bullpen, adding to the back end of the bullpen specifically," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "And we feel like he fits all that stuff for us. He has the ability to close, he has the ability to pitch in late/leverage roles and we still maintain our flexibility in terms of who else we may add to the bullpen. We think he's an important piece."

Hot Stove Tracker

D-backs relievers comibined for a 3.78 ERA in 2017, which was the fifth best in the Majors. Closer Fernando Rodney is a free agent, and while the club is still keeping in touch with him, they are taking a flexible approach to building the bullpen, much like they did last offseason.

In Boxberger and Archie Bradley, Arizona has a pair of arms to pitch in high-leverage situations, but neither player precludes them from re-signing Rodney if the contract terms are right, or picking up another potential closer.

Boxberger, 29, posted his best season in 2015, when he led the American League with 41 saves.

Injuries limited Boxberger to 27 games in 2016 and 30 in '17, but he finished last season strong in compiling a 0.96 ERA over his final nine appearances.

"He finished the season healthy, and we obviously went through a full medical check and we feel good about it," Hazen said.

Video: TB@HOU: Boxberger fans White, side in the 6th

Boxberger is eligible for salary arbitration, and according to projections by MLBTradeRumors.com, he could earn $1.9 million, which was one of the reasons the Rays dealt him.

The D-backs have control of Boxberger through the 2019 season.

Taylor, 22, was Arizona's fourth-round Draft pick in 2016 and was ranked as the club's No. 14 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com.

Taylor's 2017 season with Class A Kane County was cut short when he sustained a right shoulder impingement in mid-July. At the time of the injury, Taylor was 3-4 with a 3.32 ERA.

"He's got a great arm and he was obviously a high pick, but we know that in a trade like this, to get a controllable reliever like Brad, that we were going to have to give up something pretty good," Hazen said. "We have Brad for two years so we feel good about the control there."

Video: Zinkie on fantasy implications of Boxberger deal

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Although the D-backs have dominant righty Bradley (1.73 ERA in 2017) in the bullpen and could also choose to bring back Rodney, Boxberger is among the favorites to handle closing duties for the club based on his past experience. The righty has not picked up a save in the past two seasons, but he led the AL with 41 saves in '15. If he receives the opportunity to lock down the ninth inning in '18, Boxberger would carry relevance in all fantasy leagues.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Brad Boxberger

Lefty Miller added to D-backs' 40-man roster

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The D-backs added left-hander Jared Miller to their 40-man roster Monday in order to protect him from being exposed in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Clubs had until 6 p.m. MT to protect Rule 5-eligible players.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs added left-hander Jared Miller to their 40-man roster Monday in order to protect him from being exposed in next month's Rule 5 Draft.

Clubs had until 6 p.m. MT to protect Rule 5-eligible players.

Miller, who was selected by the D-backs in the 11th round of the 2014 Draft out of Vanderbilt University, had a 2.93 ERA last season in 53 relief appearances for Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Reno.

While with Reno, Miller had a 1.72 ERA and limited opponents to a .147 batting average.

Miller was converted from starter to reliever prior to the 2016 season, and it was around that time that fellow Vanderbilt alum David Price helped him develop a cut fastball, which he picked up quickly and used it to thrive in relief.

Miller, who is the D-backs' 17th-best prospect according to MILBPipeline.com, pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2016 and was invited to Spring Training in 2017 as a non-roster player.

The D-backs' 40-man roster is now at 38.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Jared Miller

D-backs' Atkinson takes unlikely path to AFL

Right-hander hadn't thrown in over a year before seeking tryout
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Atkinson hadn't thrown a baseball in 13 months, but with just five days to prepare, there wasn't any time to dwell. If Atkinson wanted his baseball career to continue, he needed to impress.

After pitching for four seasons at the University of Cincinnati, Atkinson's baseball career suddenly came to a screeching halt. The right-hander wasn't drafted, wasn't signed as a free agent and wasn't invited to a tryout.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Atkinson hadn't thrown a baseball in 13 months, but with just five days to prepare, there wasn't any time to dwell. If Atkinson wanted his baseball career to continue, he needed to impress.

After pitching for four seasons at the University of Cincinnati, Atkinson's baseball career suddenly came to a screeching halt. The right-hander wasn't drafted, wasn't signed as a free agent and wasn't invited to a tryout.

"I wasn't mentally committed to giving up baseball," Atkinson said. "I just kind of moved on with life and started working, doing the daily working life, and I did that for a year and a month and one night I came home from work and randomly emailed the Frontier League and I asked them if there was a tryout available."

Atkinson sent that email on a Wednesday and promptly received a response letting him know there was a tryout the following Monday and he was welcome to attend. Atkinson had spent the past year working as a personal trainer and nutritionist so he was physically in shape, even if his arm wasn't.

However, if someone was just watching the tryout, it'd have been hard to tell he hadn't thrown a baseball since college as his fastball sat at 93 mph and he struck out all four batters he faced.

The Evansville Otters were impressed enough to sign Atkinson, and a D-backs scout also took notice, telling the Otters to give him a call once Atkinson had some innings under his belt.

Atkinson was with the Otters for eight days -- he appeared in two games, struck out eight batters and gave up one hit over 5 2/3 scoreless innings -- before the D-backs signed him on July 2, 2016.

"There's a needle in the haystack every now and then that gets overlooked," J.R. House, who managed Atkinson with Double-A Jackson this season, said. "When you go out and perform and get those small chances and turn them into big opportunities, you can be rewarded for them and that's why he's here. That's what he's done."

Atkinson finished the 2016 campaign in rookie ball and then began his ascent through the system in 2017.

Atkinson pitched across three levels this season, posted a 3.30 ERA in 26 games and struck out 167 over 141 2/3 innings. He reached Double-A Jackson and is finishing the season in the Arizona Fall League.

AFL roster & stats

"He's making a name for himself," House said. "He's shown his durability and that he can last all the way through because this is the most he's thrown in a season by a lot."

Atkinson was also pleased with the year he put together as his preseason goals were simply to get to the Class A Advanced level.

"The year I had, I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I was happy with where I ended up," Atkinson said. "I guess I didn't set my goals high enough this year because I succeeded with my goals and surpassed them."

Not only did Atkinson surpass his goals in 2017, but his 15-month journey from a gym in Ohio to the Arizona Fall League has already exceeded the expectations of most.

"It's great to see his story and where he's come from, the year that he had and his perseverance," House said. "He's a great kid and I love watching him pitch."

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs' Arizona Fall League overview

Reinheimer showing defensive versatility, ability with bat
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's no such thing as too much knowledge or too much versatility for a player, and Jack Reinheimer is working to acquire both during his stint with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

"It's a good thing to be in this league," Reinheimer said. "Getting to pick these guys' brains and seeing what has been working for them, bouncing ideas off of them. I like doing that about hitting. It's a good opportunity for me to work on some things I want to work on."

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's no such thing as too much knowledge or too much versatility for a player, and Jack Reinheimer is working to acquire both during his stint with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

"It's a good thing to be in this league," Reinheimer said. "Getting to pick these guys' brains and seeing what has been working for them, bouncing ideas off of them. I like doing that about hitting. It's a good opportunity for me to work on some things I want to work on."

The D-backs' No. 25 prospect hit .278 across 129 games in his second season with Triple-A Reno. Reinheimer also made his Major League debut in 2017, but it was a brief stint and he went 0-for-5 in two games.

D-backs' Top 30 Prospects

The 25-year-old had spent his entire career playing the middle infield, but he played 34 games at third base this season and even spent four games in left field -- a position he'd never played before.

"The more positions you can play, the more that adds to you as a player, so that's definitely a good thing," Reinheimer said. "It was a little weird in left field, but I could get used to it."

Arizona Fall League roster & stats

Reinheimer is a solid player but also one that doesn't necessarily have a dominant tool that makes him stand out. Defensive versatility and a solid approach at the plate could be his calling card, and those are the areas he's seeking to improve in the AFL.

"I think I just need to work on my consistency," Reinheimer said. "I've been trying to do that my whole career. It's up and down, but that's how the game goes."

D-backs' hitters in the Fall League:

Victor Reyes, OF (No. 19)
Michael Perez, C

Reyes, a switch-hitter, has hit at every level he's played at. The 23-year-old doesn't have significant power, but he makes consistent contact and is a career .298 hitter. Reyes hit .292 in 126 games with Double-A Jackson this season. While he may have gotten off to a slow start in his first Double-A experience, he certainly figured it out as the season went on, hitting .316 in the second half.

Video: Top Prospects: Victor Reyes, OF, D-backs

Perez's offense hasn't been great over the past few seasons as he focused on developing his defense behind the plate, but the 25-year-old posted the best offensive season of his young career in 2017, hitting .284 across 83 games with Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Reno. Perez hopes to build off that success in the AFL while also improving his pitch-framing abilities behind the plate.

Video: Michael Perez talks about his development in the AFL

D-backs' pitchers in the Fall League:

Yoan Lopez, RHP
Colin Poche, LHP
Ryan Atkinson, RHP
Kirby Bellow, LHP

Lopez, a former Top-30 prospect, struggled both on and off the field over the course of his first few seasons in the D-backs system, but he may have gotten himself back on track this year. The organization moved the 24-year-old to the bullpen and he threw well, posting a 0.88 ERA over 30 2/3 innings with Class A Advanced Visalia. However, Lopez didn't make his first appearance of the season until July 2 as he was dealing with a strained rotator cuff, and he was removed from the Salt River roster after one week. He fared well in three outings with the Rafters, tossing three scoreless innings (5 H, 0 BB, 3 K) and running his fastball up to 97 in his final appearance.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: RHP Yoan Lopez (@Dbacks) removed from @MLBazFallLeague roster. Was sitting at 95-96 Monday. Was solid in 3 G/3 IP: https://t.co/2iNwLC7Gf4 pic.twitter.com/W6AwSwztTy

Poche, a 14th-round pick from the 2016 Draft, put up good numbers in his first full season. The lefty from Dallas Baptist struck out 81 over 50 1/3 innings and posted a 1.25 ERA across 31 games with Class A Kane County and Class A Advanced Visalia.

Atkinson reached Double-A in his first full season with the organization. Signed as a free agent out of the independent leagues in 2016, Atkinson threw 141 2/3 innings this season, the most he's ever totaled in a year. The 24-year-old spent most of the season with Class A Kane County, but he went 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 36 1/3 innings after he was called up to Double-A Jackson.

Like Lopez, Bellow is looking to make up for lost time. The lefty pitched across three levels this season but only accumulated 39 2/3 innings as he had a pair of lengthy trips to the disabled list. Bellow missed roughly two weeks in late May and about five weeks in June and July. When he was healthy, Bellow proved to be a solid bullpen option for Class A Advanced Visalia as he struck out 31 in 25 2/3 innings and posted a 2.81 ERA.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Walker, Duplantier named Prospects of Year

D-backs' first baseman, pitcher honored by MLBPipeline.com
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- First baseman Christian Walker and right-hander Jon Duplantier were named the D-backs' Hitting and Pitching prospects of the year by MLBPipeline.com.

It is the continuation of honors both players have received for their outstanding performances this past season.

PHOENIX -- First baseman Christian Walker and right-hander Jon Duplantier were named the D-backs' Hitting and Pitching prospects of the year by MLBPipeline.com.

It is the continuation of honors both players have received for their outstanding performances this past season.

Walker, who was selected by the D-backs off waivers from the Reds in March, tore up the Pacific Coast League while playing for Triple-A Reno. He led Minor League Baseball with 114 RBIs while smacking 34 doubles and 32 homers.

D-backs' Prospects of the Year

For his efforts, Walker, ranked No. 27 on the D-backs' Top 30 Prospects list, was named the Pacific Coast League's Most Valuable Player.

Even better for him, his performance earned him a September callup to the D-backs where he went 3-for-12 with a pair of home runs.

Duplantier, the D-backs' No. 2 prospect and MLBPipeline's Pitching Prospect of the Year, was the team's third-round selection in the 2016 Draft.

The 23-year-old former Rice pitcher, was 6-1 with a 1.24 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) for Class A Kane County before earning a promotion to Visalia in the California League.

The jump didn't slow down his results as he went 6-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 12 starts.

Last week the D-backs named Duplantier their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list and played the entire year in the organization.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

How they were built: D-backs

New front office able to turn things around in first season
MLB.com

MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the postseason teams was built, looking at the composition of their projected Division Series rosters.

The D-backs are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011 and surpassed the 90-win mark for the third time in the 16 years since they won the World Series back in 2001. It's not quite the turnaround of the Minnesota Twins, who lost 100 games in 2016, but the D-backs more or less have flipped their record around after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the NL West a year ago.

MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the postseason teams was built, looking at the composition of their projected Division Series rosters.

The D-backs are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011 and surpassed the 90-win mark for the third time in the 16 years since they won the World Series back in 2001. It's not quite the turnaround of the Minnesota Twins, who lost 100 games in 2016, but the D-backs more or less have flipped their record around after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the NL West a year ago.

Like the Twins, Arizona has a new braintrust running things in the front office, starting with general manager Mike Hazen and including assistant GMs like Jared Porter and Amiel Sawdaye. All cut their teeth with the Red Sox, who know a thing or two about winning.

:: How each postseason team was built ::

Before thinking this new group are miracle workers, it should be pointed out the D-backs had some good players already in house when Hazen and company joined the organization in October 2016. This was a team some predicted would compete for the playoffs a year ago, but they underperformed for a variety of reasons.

"We were fortunate to come into a team that had a lot of talent," Sawdaye said. "There's no doubt there were players who underperformed. Zack Greinke is one of the top five pitchers in baseball and Paul Goldschmidt is a perennial MVP candidate. It's very rare to come into a team with those two consistent, impactful players.

"Coming in the general consensus was we had a lot of really good players, but how do we get them to perform up to the potential they should or could reach."

To that end, perhaps the biggest acquisition the D-backs made was the hiring of Torey Lovullo as the manager. The front office group knew Lovullo well from his time as a coach for the Red Sox, and while this was his rookie campaign as a big league skipper, his long resume as a Major League coach and Minor League manager pointed to him as the right man for the job.

"I think the players needed a different voice," said Sawdaye, who also believed that the addition of more analytical data given to players had an impact. "The trust factor that Torey brought was important to us. I think that was one of the biggest reasons as to why there was such a quick turnaround.

"There were things that slightly moved the needle, but the players obviously deserve the credit. They turned it around. They believed they had a better team than the team from last year."

HOMEGROWN

Player, how acquired, year, Baseball-Reference WAR (15.4):
Paul Goldschmidt, Draft, 2009 (8th), 5.8
A.J. Pollock, Draft, 2009 (1st), 2.9
Archie Bradley, Draft, 2011 (1st round), 3.7
Andrew Chafin, Draft, 2011 (supplemental 1st), 1
Jake Lamb, Draft, 2012 (6th), 1.4
Jimmie Sherfy, Draft, 2013 (10th), 0.6

It will be a while before this front office will have its own homegrown player impact the big league roster (No pressure, Pavin Smith). But a decision made involving one of the homegrown players, aside from putting Goldschmidt in the lineup every day, has paid a huge dividend.

When Bradley was taken seventh overall in the 2011 Draft, everyone saw him as a future front-line starter. He had size, stuff, athleticism -- all the ingredients to get there. Except he hadn't been able to. Bradley had spent the 2016 season in the big league rotation, and while he missed bats, he also gave up a lot of hits and walks en route to an ERA over 5.00.

He competed for a spot in the rotation this spring, but was on the outside looking in, leaving a choice of sending him to Triple-A as starting insurance or putting him in the bullpen.

"His personality, having him around, knowing what he brings to the table from a leadership standpoint, even as a young player," Sawdaye listed as reasons for moving him to a relief role. "He might blow 97-98 mph in the 'pen with a hammer. We might have what Archie Bradley is now."

Maybe Bradley one day returns to starting, but it's hard to argue with the impact he's had in his new role. His 3.7 WAR puts him 11th among all pitchers, and first among relievers, in the National League.

"We had a need and he took off," Sawdaye said. "He's extremely talented, as we all know. He has the stuff to be a frontline starter and to be a closer. He is a young player, but he is also a leader in our clubhouse. The bullpen allowed his personality to really come out. Who knows what the future holds, but this is and was the best role for him the team and he's embraced this role."

TRADES/WAIVERS

Player, year, acquired from, bWAR (20.2):
Patrick Corbin, 2010, Angels, 3
Brandon Drury, 2013, Braves, 1.6
Zack Godley, 2014, Cubs, 4.4
Robbie Ray, 2014, Tigers, 5
Ketel Marte, 2016, Mariners, 1.1
Taijuan Walker, 2016, Mariners, 2.8
David Hernandez, 2017, Angels, 0.1
J.D. Martinez, 2017, Tigers, 2.6
Adam Rosales, 2017, A's, -0.5
+ Christian Walker, 2017, Reds
+ Acquired via Waivers

The first trade Hazen made has had a definite impact, with both Walker and Marte, who came from Seattle in the Jean Segura trade, playing roles down the stretch and into October. But there's not question it's the most recent deal that might have put the D-backs over the top.

Arizona sent three Minor Leaguers to the Tigers in return for Martinez on July 18. Martinez had 16 home runs in 57 games at the time. He's hit 29 since.

Video: Martinez, Walker among D-backs successful trades

"I don't think anyone could've imagined we'd get his kind of statement from J.D.," Sawdaye said. "He obviously has gone out and provided right-handed power for us, he's lenghthened out our lineup. He's really helped Goldy; people are pitching to him now that probably wouldn't have. He's probably the most feared hitter in the National League right now.

"But it's also the way he prepares for the game, his overall interest in hitting. He charts every pitcher he faces. It's impressive. He's a leader in the clubhouse that we didn't imagine because we didn't know him that well. We've been fortunate that we got him at the right time. Hopefully, it continues."

FREE AGENTS

Player, year, bWAR (10.3):
David Peralta, 2013, 2.5
Zack Greinke, 2015, 6.1
Jeff Mathis, 2016, -0.6
Kristopher Negron, 2016, -0.2
Fernando Rodney, 2016, 0.4
Gregor Blanco, 2017, -0.1
Jorge De La Rosa, 2017, 0.7
Daniel Descalso, 2017, -0.3
Chris Iannetta, 2017, 1.8

Because of the belief in the talent in place when they first took over, Hazen and company didn't feel the need, and didn't necessarily have the budget, to make a big free agent splash in the offseason. Instead, they went shopping for veteran role players. They may not have put up huge numbers, but they certainly helped turn this team from a 90-loss to a 90-win club.

Video: After Greinke, D-backs targeted role players

"These are guys who have been there, guys who have won," Sawdaye said. "Changing the culture in the clubhouse is important. All the teams I've been around that have been really good teams, we've always had those guys.

"They know their roles, they know why we brought them in. We were fortunate to bring the right guys in. You can always put them out there, but they've exceeded our expectations. They've performed on the field and they've done everything we've hoped for off the field."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs, OF prospect Patino close to deal

Venezuelan outfielder, 16, ranked No. 25 among international prospects
MLB.com

The D-backs are nearing a deal with one of the top unsigned international free agents, 16-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Wildred Patino, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez has learned. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Patino is the No. 25 prospect on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International Prospects list. The athletic teenager projects as a center fielder and has the potential for plus tools across the board.

The D-backs are nearing a deal with one of the top unsigned international free agents, 16-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Wildred Patino, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez has learned. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Patino is the No. 25 prospect on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International Prospects list. The athletic teenager projects as a center fielder and has the potential for plus tools across the board.

Patino had previously agreed to a $1.3 million deal with the Rangers in July before an arm injury derailed the deal. Texas had still been in the running to sign him, according to Sanchez.

This move would bolster a D-backs international class that is already headlined by Bahamian outfielder Kristian Robinson, who is the No. 15 prospect on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 list. Robinson, who signed for $2.55 million, is a plus runner, and his big frame gives him advanced raw power from the right side.

Arizona also signed Dominican shortstop Neyfy Castillo ($600,000), Venezuelan catcher Sergio Gutierrez ($565,000), Dominican shortstop Liover Peguero ($475,000) and Venezuelan outfielder Jorge Barrosa ($415,000). The team has a pool total for this year's signing period of $5.75 million.

After the Patino deal becomes official, six of the top 30 international prospects will remain unsigned, including Brazilian right-hander Eric Pardinho (No. 5) and Venezuelan catcher Antonio Cabello (No. 8).

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs welcome 2 top prospects for BP

Smith, Robinson joined Arizona's farm system this year
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Those who showed up early enough to watch batting practice at Chase Field on Saturday may have seen a glimpse of the D-backs' future.

Two of the top young players in Arizona's organization, Pavin Smith (ranked No. 1 in the D-backs' system by MLBPipeline.com) and Kristian Robinson (No. 20), joined the D-backs for batting practice and met with players and coaches before Saturday's matchup with the Marlins.

View Full Game Coverage

PHOENIX -- Those who showed up early enough to watch batting practice at Chase Field on Saturday may have seen a glimpse of the D-backs' future.

Two of the top young players in Arizona's organization, Pavin Smith (ranked No. 1 in the D-backs' system by MLBPipeline.com) and Kristian Robinson (No. 20), joined the D-backs for batting practice and met with players and coaches before Saturday's matchup with the Marlins.

View Full Game Coverage

"It was the second time I had met Kristian, and now meeting Pavin, I can understand why these guys are special," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "They're very physical, strong young men. On top of that, they're very well-spoken and confident. I'm excited about having them in the system."

Smith was the D-backs' top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and the No. 7 pick overall. The University of Virginia product earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors with the Cavaliers this year and found instant success once he was assigned to the Class A Short-Season Hillsboro. He hit .318 with 27 RBIs in 51 games and walked more than he struck out (27 walks, 24 K's) while playing first base for the Hops.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Hit at Chase Field: ������ pic.twitter.com/mDq9xrSZQc

"It was fun," Smith said of his first pro season. "Some ups and downs, you know, the grind of playing every day. ... I think with everybody in baseball, adversity is inevitable and you've just got to be able to deal with that. I think college helped with that definitely. Going through some slumps, going through some highs, some lows, just being able to manage it all."

Robinson, who hails from the Bahamas and is ranked as the No. 15 international prospect, signed with the D-backs on July 2 for $2.55 million. The 16-year-old caught the attention of D-backs' Latin American scouting director Cesar Geronimo two years ago during an exhibition game in Florida, and Robinson said he felt an immediate connection with the D-backs.

"I remember looking at him in the stands," he said of Geronimo. "They encourage you not to look at the scouts in the stands, but I saw him and just saw that he saw something different in me. I kept an upbeat rhythm in my game, and then after the showcases, [the D-backs] just had the best option for me and my family."

Tweet from @Dbacks: Special guests at the ballpark today... 👀 pic.twitter.com/MckLj4Ev8U

Robinson stands 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and is considered a five-tool prospect by many scouts, with his speed and power thought to be the most promising aspects of his game.

Both players are expected to spend the fall with the D-backs' instructional league team.

"What I expressed to them was, even though they're not here at the big league level," Lovullo said. "What this organization does a really good job of is informing us of what's happening throughout the entire system. ... So, they're not very far away. In today's game, it's not uncommon that a college draftee will be here within a year. You look at Andrew Benintendi, [Michael Conforto] and [Kyle Schwarber]; these guys race through the system. We like the idea that they're here and getting comfortable and understanding what this level is all about."

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Kristian Robinson, Pavin Smith