D-backs’ Trades Balance Present And Future

On the day the Diamondbacks lost two more intriguing prospects as players to be named in the Steven Souza trade,  general manager Mike Hazen was asked to assess his farm system. He paused before answering.

“That continues to be a work in progress,” he said. “That’s going to take time.”

Since taking over as GM in October 2016, Hazen has been honest—sometimes brutally so—when asked about the state of the system. As a young executive with the Indians and Red Sox, he spent years in player development, seeing firsthand how an organization can be fueled by its minor league system.

But since coming to Arizona, he’s overseen a club looking to capitalize on its window of opportunity to win at the major league level. That has led to the subtraction of some of the club’s prospect inventory.

On May 1, the club parted ways with a pair of interesting arms to finish off the Souza deal, sending righthander Sam McWilliams and lefty Colin Poche to the Rays, who also acquired lefthander Anthony Banda in the same deal.

McWilliams is a lanky righthander with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, a chance for two above-average offspeed pitches and enough control that scouts believe he could grow into a mid-rotation starter.

Poche is a lefty reliever with solid stuff that plays up due to the extension he gets in his delivery. The organization believed Poche’s fastball, which usually sits in the low to mid-90s, looked about 2 mph faster because of it.

“(We are) sort of balancing the short- and the long-term in the organization,” Hazen said. “Given the performance of the major league club over the last eight months, we’ve felt a need—and will continue to—to support this team. By doing that, we’ve had to subtract some guys in the system that we liked quite a bit. 

“In time, we hope to build that back up organically through the draft and international signings. We’re not going to be afraid to continue to bolster the team now and when it’s needed.”

Besides Banda, McWilliams and Poche, the D-backs also dealt infielders Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King for J.D. Martinez last year; traded righthander Curtis Taylor for closer Brad Boxberger; and parted with less heralded prospects in smaller deals for reliever David Hernandez, infielder Adam Rosales and catcher John Ryan Murphy.

The prospect whose departure could hurt the most could be outfielder Mitch Haniger, who was dealt to the Mariners with Jean Segura as part of the return for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte trade only a month after Hazen was hired. Haniger has hit .286/.361/.521 in his first 132 games with the Mariners.

>> Double-A Jackson righthander Jon Duplantier had a start skipped in early May because of “fatigue,” farm director Mike Bell said. “He just didn’t feel 100 percent, so we gave him a little bit more time,” he said. Duplantier, who had his season delayed by a hamstring issue, carried a 2.79 ERA through 19 innings in four starts, with three walks and 24 strikeouts.

>> Outfield prospects Eduardo Diaz and Gabriel Maciel reported to low Class A Kane County at the beginning of May, following a schedule Bell said the organization had mapped out since last year. “For a lot of the really young guys, it doesn’t make sense to send them out (to the Midwest League) until May because of the weather,” he said.

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