2018 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects Chat

Nick Piecoro: Hey everyone thanks for all the questions. Let’s get started.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Thanks for chatting. Was Christian Walker considered for this list, and with Goldy blocking his way, what other positions is he suited for, if any?

Nick Piecoro: Yes, he was considered, and he’ll likely have a spot near the back of the Top 30. The age and the profile were hurdles for him. From what I understand, he’s playable, but below average, in left field.

Eric (Flagstaff, AZ): What can you tell us about Tra'Mayne Holmes? Which OF spot suits him best?

Nick Piecoro: I talked to a few people who were pretty high on the skill-set, but one suggested he might need to make some significant changes to his swing/load. Plus runner, a base-stealing threat, a true center fielder, very athletic. A name to remember for next season.

VandyGuy (MD): Jared miller: dominant LOOGY, or can he pitch full innings? Any chance he breaks camp with the big club?

Nick Piecoro: His numbers the past couple seasons have actually been a bit better against righties, so I’d think he could be a full-inning guy. There’s a chance he breaks camp in the majors but it’s probably not likely. The command could use some tightening up.

Warren (New London): I was surprised not to see Gabriel Maciel on this list. He's a year and a half younger than Eduardo Diaz and has a much better idea of the strike zone. Are Diaz's tools that much better?

Nick Piecoro: Maciel has a lot of fans, but some are a little guarded. He’s a great athlete but not super physical. People prefer Diaz to Maciel in center field. Maciel sounds a lot like an Ender Inciarte-type, but some people think that comp is too rich. I agree that the ability to control the zone with Diaz is a concern – and it’s a plus for Maciel – but I think it’s just that if everything clicks with Diaz the ceiling is higher.

Max (Boston): I know the system's trended up, which probably helped to push him out of the top 10, but did Socrates Brito do anything to improve his stock this year? Any sense on if the team considers him a regular down the line, or just a 4th OF?

Nick Piecoro: He is playing pretty well in winter ball, so that’s nice, but if anything Brito has gone backwards the past couple of seasons, putting up pretty meh numbers in Reno. Probably the biggest thing has been staying healthy. He’s still young and he’ll have another minor league option next year. I think he’s probably viewed more as a platoon/extra type but he has the ability to potentially play his way into a bigger role.

Matt (Tampa, FL): How did Yoan Lopez look this year? Seems like the move to relief has really suited him. Does he have high leverage upside?

Nick Piecoro: He was awesome — when he was out there. He missed a good chunk of the season with a shoulder injury, then was shut down in the fall league with another shoulder issue (although the team assured me it was minor). But he was mid-to-upper-90s with the fastball, wipeout slider – looked like a potential late-inning relief weapon.

Kyle (Albuquerque, NM): Is Eudy Ramos a 3B or 1B for the foreseeable future?

Nick Piecoro: I didn’t have many people pushing Ramos too hard. Those that believe in him see a sort of fringe first base bat.

Raul (Tucson, Az.): Hi Nick, where does the Dbacks new international acquisition, Kristian Robinson, fit into their list and what is his ceiling?

Nick Piecoro: Right outside the Top 10. His ceiling is huge, but he’s a lottery ticket at this point – and probably an even riskier profile than most big-dollar, teenage internationals since he comes from the Bahamas and hasn’t faced the kind of competition guys out of D.R. and Venezuela tend to see. But it’s potential plus power, plus speed, could play center depending on how the body develops. The word “monster” was thrown around a lot, and he’s said to have great makeup on top of all that.

Jonathan (Syracuse, NY): Did anyone come close to knocking Tabor off the back of the list, or was there a fairly well-defined tier?

Nick Piecoro: I guess maybe Robinson came closest, but we ultimately decided that he’s just so far away – he might not get out of the DSL next year – that it made sense to go with the slightly older guy who is expected to pitch in the states this year. This was a tricky farm system to rank, with so many inexperienced upside guys. Could have gone a number of different ways with it.

Raul (Tucson): What do scouts think about Anfernee Grier? Was he a bad pick where they took him or does he have a chance?

Nick Piecoro: Didn’t hear much positive from the scouting community about Grier. The hitter the Diamondbacks saw punish SEC pitching hasn’t really showed up. Hasn’t been much impact/strength to his game. Still there are some things to like: 10.6-percent walk rate, 30 steals. Coaches said he’s a good worker who asks questions, thinks about the game the right way, really cares. It can be hard for relatively high picks who have their draft position hanging over them.

Frank (Indianapolis IN): How many of these guys could make BA's top 100 list, if you could predict for us?

Nick Piecoro: I’d bet Duplantier for sure with Banda and Pavin Smith also as candidates.

Gabe (Phoeniz, AZ): Was Cody Reed given any love for your list this year?

Nick Piecoro: I’ve heard him described as an analytics darling with his extension/spin rate, but he just doesn’t have much in the way of stuff. Barely cracks 90 mph with the fastball. If he’s going to make it, it sounds like it’ll be in the form of a Chris Young or Josh Collmenter type who get by on deception/location.

Josh (ARI): I don't know what to believe re: Pavin Smith -- the people who are screaming fire in the theater who say he won't hit more than 10 HR in a season or those that think 20 HR seasons will eventually come.

Nick Piecoro: Yeah. We’ll see. I heard from some people on both sides, but there seem to be more who think it will come. The raw power is in there. It’s going to have to come somewhat, especially if the power surge in today’s game is here for the foreseeable future. It seems that the swing-change guys who have been the most impactful in recent years had some hittability already baked into their game. So if there’s someone you’d think could eventually learn to drive the ball, I’d say Smith certainly fits the profile.

Chirpy (Madison, WI): What are you thoughts on Ildemaro Vargas? Seems like one of those guys that won't ever get his due but ends up having a fruitful career as a utility player.

Nick Piecoro: I think a utility role is realistic. He can bounce around, puts the bat on the ball, brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Sort of checks off all the boxes for the bench player profile.

Dan (Augusta, ME): Buddy Kennedy, Mike Trout's.friend, is listed as 5'11 215 in his BA draft write-up, but his BA player card says 6'1 190. Which is correct and do you foresee him sticking at 3B?

Nick Piecoro: I went with 5-11 in the write-up I turned in for the Top 30. He’s been described as a Jedd Gyorko-type physically. Compact, stocky build. I have heard some concerns about whether he sticks at third, but some people think he might have enough in the bat to fit in the outfield.

Nick (Phoenix): Thanks for the chat! I’m interest in your thoughts on Jhoan Duran and Gabriel Maciel. Were they close to top 10? What ceiling do you see for both?

Nick Piecoro: I talked a little about Maciel earlier. He’s really intriguing to me since he’s regarded as a premium athlete and clearly has a feel for the strike zone. We’ll see if he can get a little more physical. As for Duran, he’s got a sort of typical profile of a guy who has a chance to start but might end up in relief. Good slurvy breaking ball, needs to improve his change-up and is more control than command. If the command and/or the third pitch come along, perhaps he sticks in the rotation.

Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): Wondering if scouts saw anything in Francis Martinez game this year. I could see a case from him as a top 20 guy or outside the top 30.

Nick Piecoro: I think he’s tantalizing for a lot of scouts but ultimately kinda disappointing. He’s this big-bodied switch-hitter who can launch balls out in BP. But it hasn’t always translated in games. Can’t seem to adjust. He’s still young. We’ll see if he can eventually.

Jacob (Dallas, TX): How close was Kevin Cron to the top 10? He repeated AA and improved K and BB rate along with avg and winning the Southern League MVP. Is he a legit big league prospect?

Nick Piecoro: Those were really important adjustments Cron made. Put himself back on the map after a down year in 2016. He’s turned himself into a pretty good defender at first, too; soft hands, good at digging balls out. It’s just a tough profile. He’s 1B/DH, so he’s going to have to really hit, but I’ve heard from a couple of scouts who think he might be a better hitter than his brother, and C.J. has parts of four years in the big leagues.

Ryan (Chandler): Hey Nick. I've been a huge fan of your's for years. I love your work! How many of these players do you anticipate being top 100 prospects? And would you still assess this system as being bottom 10? It seems like there's a lot more upside in here than a year ago.

Nick Piecoro: Thanks Ryan. Like I said above, I think *perhaps* their Top 3 guys could crack the Top 100. I’m probably not the person to ask in terms of where they rank league-wide, but it does feel like the system is on the upswing. There were a bunch of guys who put themselves on the radar. There is still a ton of risk inherent in the system, but you don’t have to squint so hard to see the next wave coming.

Sean (Phoenix): What's your thoughts on Brian Shaffer? Does he have a chance to move quick being a college arm?

Nick Piecoro: Big-time strike thrower, up to 94, four-pitch mix. College performer, pitched well in his debut. Maybe a bit of a limited ceiling but he’s intriguing.

Taylor (Mesa): What future grades would you put on Pavin Smith's hitting and power? Reading his scouting report he sounds a bit like a Mark Grace and Lyle Overbay hybrid. Does that seem fair?

Nick Piecoro: If you really love the bat you could put a 60-65 on the hit. The power grades are going to fluctuate a lot more. I heard a lot of different comps this year, from a lesser version of Adrian Gonzalez, to Wally Joyner or Mitch Moreland. I see what you’re saying with the Grace/Overbay hybrid comment — I think people see a little more power than Grace and a lot more ability to hit than Overbay.

John (Richmond): Tell us more about Jazz Chisholm - what's his offensive profile projection?

Nick Piecoro: Chisholm might have to tone down his aggressiveness at the plate, but the raw tools are there for an everyday shortstop with above-average power from the left side. Might be a lot of swing-and-miss, but might also be 15-plus homers.

James (Tempe): Hey Nick. I have a few questions about Daulton Varsho. What would you say are the odds of him sticking at catcher? And how is his pitch framing abilities? I know the organization really favors guys who can steal strikes. And if his arm is as weak as reported and the team wants to stick with him as a catcher, could that mean that they believe holding runners is not as being able to steal strikes? Thank you Nick, I'm a big fan!

Nick Piecoro: I think I like Varsho’s odds of sticking behind the plate – assuming they want to keep him there. I heard good things on his receiving, and from what I understand his receiving numbers were good, too. He might not have as much behind his throws as you’d like to see, but if they’re accurate and he’s quick with the transfer he might be able to make up for that a little. The offensive package could be really good. The question could be whether they like his bat so much that they’d want to put him at a less grueling position where he could, say, 140 games in the outfield compared to far fewer behind the plate.

Ben (CA): Thoughts on Domingo Leyba? Between lost development time and questions about his arm going forward the shoulder surgery is very worrisome.

Nick Piecoro: Fair concerns. The arm was probably light as it was for shortstop even before the injury, meaning he’s probably more of a second baseman. He does have a knack for barreling balls, though, and he’s only 22.

David (Scottsdale): How do scouts feel about Andy Yerzy's ability to stay at catcher? If he can't stay there, could the bat be strong enough to profile at a corner?

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, there’s still a good amount of skepticism about him sticking there. The bat might be able to play anywhere but most people don’t seem to think he’s athletic/quick enough to play the outfield. Folks who like the bat really like it – enough that they think he could hit enough to DH, so there could be trade value here if the catching doesn’t work out.

Jaden (Ukiah, Ca): Ryan Atkinson is a great story and while he was old for the leagues he pitched in this year, his numbers definitely stood out (10.6K/9 & 6.7 H/9). Is there enough in his arsenal to continue to climb the ladder and make it to the Big's?

Nick Piecoro: Mostly low-90s with a very good change-up and a breaking ball that needs work, and he threw all right in the fall league. Maybe he’s a swingman/up-down type eventually.

R.P. (Belfast, Maine): Marcus Wilson is named as having "Best Strike-zone discipline." He is known to have strong all-around tools. What does he need to do in order to become a regular at the major league level -- and maybe take over for Peralta in right field by 2021?

Nick Piecoro: I think probably just getting stronger and getting more consistent. If his second half were more like his first half he’d be higher on this list. But it was a nice breakout year for him.

Jack (NJ): Where would you expect Banda fits in for the 2018 season? Do you think he makes the rotation?

Nick Piecoro: With Shelby Miller still working his way back, I think Banda is probably the sixth starter at this point. And if the club decides to trade a starter he could find himself in the rotation to open the year.

Devin (Columbus): Is Taylor Clarke more likely to get moved to the pen in the Majors?

Nick Piecoro: I think he’s probably a back-of-rotation, innings-eating type.

Nick Piecoro: OK. That’s all I got. Thanks for all the questions.

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone