The Midseason Top 10 Prospect lists are compiled from conversations with front office officials and scouts from all 30 teams. Players who have exhausted prospect eligibility or were in the Major Leagues on June 26 are not eligible. Draftees from the 2015 draft are also not eligible.
The new Arizona management team of Tony LaRussa, Dave Stewart and De Jon Watson, along with manager Chip Hale, all came onboard in Arizona in the last year. A significant amount of payroll was cut with the trades of veterans Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Miguel Montero, Mark Trumbo and Bronson Arroyo, but the organization also spent freely in the Cuban market with the signings of outfielder Yasmany Tomas and pitcher Yoan Lopez.
The deals to unload salary have largely worked out, freeing positions for four of last year’s top ten prospects–Archie Bradley, Tomas, Jake Lamb and Nick Ahmed–all of whom have contributed to the big league team in 2015, as well as adding starting pitchers Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray and catcher Welington Castillo. Bradley was off to an impressive start to his pro career before being struck in the face with a line drive and then later suffering shoulder soreness.
Other rookies contributing this season include relievers Andrew Chafin and Enrique Burgos. Additional help from the farm system is available if needed with starting pitcher Aaron Blair, outfielder/catcher Peter O’Brien and infielder Brandon Drury now at the Triple-A level and Lopez pitching effectively at Double-A.
While this year’s Diamondbacks team is far more competitive than the 2014 version that finished with baseball’s worst record, they’ve struggled to get past the .500 level and have failed to gain ground on the Dodgers and Giants, the two NL West juggernauts ahead of Arizona in the standings.
How the team performs in July will likely determine whether they are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The salary dump deal sending Arroyo to Atlanta added surplus cash to aid in possible deadline deals also cost the organization 2014 first round pick Touki Toussaint, a move that garnered near universal criticism throughout the baseball world.
Arizona selected Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick of the 2015 draft, the first of what turned out to be an extremely college-heavy crop.
MIDSEASON TOP 10
1. Aaron Blair, rhp
Blair already had his supporters heralding the Marshall University righthander as the organization’s top prospect last year, but this year there’s very little dissent at the top spot–at least not until first overall draft pick Dansby Swanson joins the organization. The durable Blair separated himself from the pack with a strong first half spent mostly at Double-A Mobile, in part due to consistency in repeating his delivery and going deep into most of his starts. He regularly induces weak contact with a fastball that has heavy life, and his 11-to-5 curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch that has the potential to be a plus offering. Blair will take a break this month to be part of the U.S. team in the upcoming Pan Am games in Toronto.