D-backs' Top 30 bolstered by recent Drafts

February 26th, 2018

Things are looking up in terms of the D-backs' farm system, though it might be a while before fans of the big league team reap the benefits.
• D-backs Top 30 Prospects list
A year ago, the D-backs didn't have a single player on MLB Pipeline's Preseason Top 100 list. There are two now, which might not seem like much progress, but there are others on the horizon who could work their way onto the list with strong 2018 campaigns.
:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::
For the eighth straight year, a pitcher sits atop the D-backs' top prospects list. This time it's Jon Duplantier, who could turn out to be the steal of the 2016 Draft. He's followed by Pavin Smith, the D-backs' first-rounder from last June. Those are the pair on the Top 100, and they are two of 10 from the last three Drafts, run by scouting director Deric Ladnier, on the Top 30.
The D-backs are starting to find a nice blend of old-school scouting and analytics when it comes to the Draft and re-building what had been one of the weaker farm systems in baseball. Much of that is thanks to the leadership of general manager Mike Hazen, who saw such a hybrid work during his time with the Red Sox. Finding a combination of the "old approach," with Ladnier at the scouting helm, and the new one, with minds such as assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye leading the way, will be key as the organization tries to build from within. With both sides of that pendulum seeing the value in each other, it's a formula that's working well.
It might take a while, with much of the true impact talent at least a year away, if not more. There's some exciting upside, especially with recent efforts on the international market, but those players might not be seen for several years.
The good news is the big league team is already competitive after a playoff run in 2017. Yes, there will be personnel decisions to be made there soon enough, but having a winning team at the highest level will help in terms of not feeling pressure to push prospects too quickly.
So will building more depth. The D-backs still are probably in the bottom half in terms of farm systems overall, but there's more to be excited about top to bottom than there has been for quite some time. Player development can be a crapshoot, so perhaps cautious optimism is best, but at least it looks as if things are headed in the right direction.

Biggest jump/fall
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.
Jump: Eduardo Diaz, OF (2017: NR | 2018: 11)
Fall: Matt Koch, RHP (2017: 17 | 2018: NR)
Best tools
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 - Pavin Smith
Power: 55 - Kevin Cron (Kristian Robinson, Andy Yerzy, Drew Ellis)
Run: 65 - Gabriel Maciel
Arm: 65 -
Defense: 60 - Maciel (Anfernee Grier)
Fastball: 70 -
Curveball: 55 - Jon Duplantier (Taylor Widener, Jimmie Sherfy, Elvis Luciano, Wei-Chieh Huang)
Slider: 55 - Duplantier (Yoan Lopez, Brian Shaffer, Mason McCullough)
Changeup: 50 - Matt Tabor (Duplantier, Taylorr Clarke, Huang, Luciano, Alex Young)
Control: 60 - Shaffer
How they were built
Draft: 16
International: 11
Trade: 3
Breakdown by ETA
2018: 9
2019: 6
2020: 8
2021: 6
2022: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 2
1B: 2
3B: 2
SS: 3
OF: 6
RHP: 12
LHP: 3