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D-backs' Next Prospect Wave Gathers At Visalia

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It’s been years since the Diamondbacks had a wave of potential impact prospects move through the system together. There's a chance the next crop will begin this season at high Class A Visalia.

When the minor league season begins, the Visalia roster could include top 2017 draft picks such as first baseman Pavin Smith, catcher Daulton Varsho and third baseman Drew Ellis as well as outfielders Marcus Wilson and Anfernee Grier and righthanders Sam McWilliams, Emilio Vargas and Tommy Eveld.

Shortstop Jazz Chisholm is another possibility, though he could start at low Class A Kane County since he logged just 109 at-bats there last season before tearing his right meniscus.

That’s seven players who ranked among the club’s Top 30 Prospects entering the year and two more in Grier and Vargas who garnered consideration for the list.

"You could make an argument for a lot of really good players going there,” farm director Mike Bell said. "If that’s actually what happens—we’ll see how spring training plays out—then it would be a pretty exciting team.”

Over the years, the D-backs have had their share of loaded minor league clubs. Most recently, the 2011 Double-A Mobile team had a number of future big leaguers pass through, including Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Adam Eaton, Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Bryan Shaw, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook.

The 2006 Triple-A Tucson club also was loaded with Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Chris Young and Miguel Montero, among others.

Bell said he’d love to have several of the organization’s top prospects graduate through the system together, but he said it’s not something he’ll go out of his way to manufacture. More important is the developmental progress of each individual player.

"It sounds good and in a perfect world, if it just lined up, that’s how you’d want it,” Bell said. "They hit the big leagues together and you’ve got this core that’s been together for two, three, four years. That’s part of it, but it’s definitely not all of it. It’s a small fraction of it. There are so many different paths and trajectories.”

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Pitchers look uncharacteristically fresh, a couple shortstops stand out, and Kyle worries about Pavin Smith and Peter Alonso.

SNAKE BITES

• Eveld, who finished last season at Visalia, had offseason surgery to remove a benign mass in his pitching elbow. He’ll likely have the start of his season delayed by at least a couple of weeks, Bell said

• Slugger Kevin Cron, last year’s Southern League MVP, was expected to see more time at third base during spring training. The D-backs are looking at ways to increase his versatility. Primarily a first baseman, Cron has played three games at third in his four-year minor league career.

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