D-backs' farm system at No. 9, led by Lawlar

August 25th, 2021

While the 2021 season has been tough for the D-backs, there’s the potential for a bright future.

MLB Pipeline released its updated farm system rankings on Tuesday, and Arizona is again close to the top. The D-backs came in at No. 9 in the re-rank, which is the same spot they were in at the start of the 2021 season and at the midseason rankings in ’20.

However, Arizona has improved its system during that time, most notably with the acquisition of shortstop , the team’s No. 1 prospect who was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. He’s also the No. 13 overall prospect in baseball.

"I came into this Draft not really knowing what teams were going to do," D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier said last month. "We were excited that he was there for us at six, there's no doubt."

Lawlar isn’t the only member of Arizona’s 2021 Draft class who is now among its Top 30 Prospects, as the additions of shortstop Ryan Bliss (No. 14), catcher Adrian Del Castillo (No. 18) and right-hander Jacob Steinmetz (No. 25) have also helped the organization maintain its high spot in the farm system rankings.

While the D-backs’ three representatives on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list are all position players -- Lawlar and outfielders Corbin Carroll (No. 21) and Alek Thomas (No. 42) -- there are some strong pitching prospects at the top of the system, too, such as left-hander Blake Walston (the team’s No. 4 prospect) and righty Ryne Nelson (No. 5).

Arizona’s farm system may only get better from here, and by this time next year, it could be higher in the rankings. The D-backs entered Wednesday with the second-worst record in MLB (42-85), so they’re likely going to end up with a top pick in the 2022 Draft.

Many of Arizona’s top prospects have yet to get their first taste of the big leagues, but some have been in the Majors this year. Third baseman Drew Ellis (No. 15) is currently with the D-backs, while right-hander Corbin Martin (No. 11) and outfielder Stuart Fairchild (No. 27) were up earlier in the year.

There could be more of a glimpse at the future in September, as D-backs manager Torey Lovullo is projecting there to be more “youthful” callups during the final month of the season.

“I want to see them play as much as possible,” Lovullo said of the organization’s young players. “I think, with certain guys, if they have 60 at-bats, I can make a better evaluation if they have 100 at-bats. I’m not just the only evaluator here, I think our front office and the rest of the people that are built around making evaluations will do the same. We’ve got to make the most crisp, accurate decisions possible each and every day and each and every offseason. …

“We still have five weeks left of the baseball season. That means potentially 75-100 at-bats for some of these younger players. I enjoy watching them play. Some of them are playing at a very high level, so I want to continue to create that motion and create that wave of young players getting opportunities so they can show us what they can do.”