Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Bradley arrived as Arizona's reward for failing to sign 2010 sixth overall pick Barret Loux. The Diamondbacks received the seventh pick in 2011 as compensation, selecting Bradley after taking Trevor Bauer third overall. It's the highest pair of picks by one team in draft history. The Diamondbacks offered a $5 million bonus just before the signing deadline to lure Bradley away from Oklahoma, where he would have played quarterback. He was one of two premium Oklahoma prep products in the 2011 draft, pairing with Dylan Bundy, whom Bradley beat in the state playoffs to conclude their senior seasons. After spending his first full year at low Class A South Bend, Bradley began the 2013 season with five dominating starts at high Class A Visalia before moving up to Double-A Mobile, where he helped lead the BayBears to a third consecutive trip to the Southern League finals. Bradley's combined 1.84 ERA ranked third in minors, and he placed fifth with 162 strikeouts. He even started a combined no-hitter against Huntsville on Aug. 14 with five innings, though he walked five and needed help from five relievers. Bradley ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the SL, behind only the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig. With a solid, fairly athletic 6-foot-4 body and an electric arm, Bradley has the potential to be a frontline starter. The key to his repertoire is the overpowering, plus-plus fastball that he throws at 93-94 mph and up to 97 with good downhill plane and tailing life. Bradley's curveball gives him another plus pitch. His changeup is a slightly above-average pitch that he hasn't used enough to develop fully, though it could also be a plus pitch in time. Bradley throws with some effort, with an arm recoil to conclude his follow-through. He repeated his delivery more consistently in 2013, helping lower his walk rate from 5.6 to 4.1 per nine innings. That's still high for a starter, but the improvement encouraged the Diamondbacks, who believe maturity was a key to his improvement. He keeps the ball in the ballpark, allowing six homers in 26 starts. The Diamondbacks might have brought Bradley to the big leagues had they remained in playoff contention, but because he does not yet have to be added to the 40-man roster he stayed in Mobile. The 2013 big league staff underachieved at times, and general manager Kevin Towers has indicated an interest in adding another starting pitcher. After an invitation to big league camp, Bradley will likely start the season at Triple-A Reno, a challenging assignment for any 21-year-old. A slow start or injury to a big league starter likely will result in his big league debut at some point in 2014.
A potential top 10 selection in the 2013 draft, Shipley fell to the Diamondbacks at No. 15, and Arizona didn't hesitate to call his name. He signed soon after the draft for $2.25 million. Primarily a shortstop as a college freshman, Shipley's arm was too good to keep off the mound, and he thrived in his last two seasons to leap up draft boards. Shipley stands out for his athleticism, and he functions as a fifth infielder on the mound. His three pitches all could be plus offerings in time, and he pitches with confidence. His fastball ranges from 94-96 mph, and he has a good feel for an outstanding, late-tumbling changeup, his best secondary pitch, which he delivers with good arm speed. Shipley's hard curveball was already a good pitch and looked even better during instructional league action. His high three-quarters delivery is clean and repeatable. A tough competitor who has a resilient arm, Shipley was capable of going deep into games with Nevada. Despite his relatively short pitching r?sum?, Shipley has an advanced feel for pitching and profiles as a No. 3 starter. Shipley pitched effectively as low Class A South Bend advanced to the Midwest League finals, and he should head to high Class A Visalia in 2014.
The 40th overall pick in a strong 2009 draft class, Owings signed for $950,000 and reached the majors in September 2013. That followed his stellar season at Triple-A Reno, when the Pacific Coast League named him its MVP and top rookie. He led the PCL in hits (180), runs (104) and total bases (263). Owings is a gamer who is such a good athlete that his tools play up. He generates good bat speed with his strong hands and consistently squares up the ball. Never one to draw many walks, he cut down on the strikeouts that had long concerned scouts; he had struck out more than 130 times in each of his previous two full seasons. His low walk totals are still a concern, but Owings is a good fastball hitter who lays off nasty breaking balls. He is an average defender at short with enough range, solid infield actions and an average arm. He runs well and increased his basestealing after working with Reno manager Brett Butler. Owings played a combined 14 games at second base with Reno and Arizona, and he could handle second or short in Arizona soon. But with Aaron Hill locked in at second, Didi Gregorius at shortstop and Cliff Pennington in a utility role, there may not be room for Owings in 2014. He could be trade bait to acquire a starting pitcher or power bat.
Drafted five picks before Chris Owings in 2009, Davidson went 35th overall and signed for $900,000. He averaged nearly 20 home runs a year in his four full seasons in the organization and reached 20 last year with his first three big league homers. Davidson has big raw power and the ball jumps off his bat. He's got a bit of a long swing and struggles to make consistent contact, which will keep his average low, but he's selective enough to get to his power consistently. His walk rate dropped in his first Triple-A season, though he handled big league pitchers well after being promoted for two stints in Arizona. While he still needs to improve defensively, scouts project him to be an average defender in time, and he makes the routine play consistently. Davidson needs to improve his lateral movement, quickness and conditioning. He has well below-average speed. The Diamondbacks need another power bat to pair with Paul Goldschmidt, a role Davidson could fill if he can handle third base. He'll go to spring training with a good chance of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Blair made an unlikely trip from his Las Vegas home all the way to West Virginia for his college career, after which he became Marshall's highest-drafted player ever--41st overall--and signed for $1.435 million. He finished his pro debut with 18 strikeouts in 16 innings in the low Class A Midwest League playoffs. Blair fits the profile of a mid-rotation starter thanks to his ability to pitch off his fastball, which gets up to 95 mph with late life, run and sink. He's a big-bodied innings eater with a plus changeup, and he knows how to pitch and makes adjustments on the mound. His delivery gives his pitches good life and allows him to induce weak contact. Blair's curveball and slider lag behind his other pitches, but both have average potential. His secondary pitches come out of the same plane as his fastball, and he repeats his high three-quarters delivery. Blair and first-rounder Braden Shipley are linked as the organization's top two picks from the 2013 draft, and they moved together after signing, piggybacking their outings in instructional league. Blair will try to keep pace in 2014, either back in the MWL or at high Class A Visalia.
The organization's pop-up prospect for 2013, Martinez signed for $55,000 under the name Jose Fermin in June 2011. The problem resulted from a name transcription mistake rather than any identity shenanigans, and Martinez made his U.S. debut with a pair of starts in the short-season Northwest League in late 2012 after dominating the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. He returned to the NWL in 2013, and while his performance didn't stand out, he attracted plenty of attention for his electric arm and potential for two plus-plus pitches from a smallish frame. He has a quick arm, generating velocity up to 99 mph, and he works regularly in the 93-94 range. His curveball, the best in the organization, is outstanding because it's a hard pitch with late bite and tilt. Martinez's changeup still grades below-average, typical for a young power pitcher, though it has shown signs of improvement. He doesn't always repeat his three-quarters arm slot, a problem that could be solved by physical maturity. Martinez stands out in a system lacking high-end Latin American talent. Thanks to his slight frame and last name, he will draw comparisons with Pedro Martinez, much like the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez. He should be ready to move to low Class A South Bend in 2014 and has breakout potential.
The 2009 draft has provided much of Arizona's young talent, from their own picks (Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock) to trade pickups such as Pat Corbin and Holmberg, acquired from the White Sox in the 2010 Edwin Jackson deal. Holmberg spent the entire 2013 season with Double-A Mobile, save for his major league debut on Aug. 27 against the Padres. He returned to the BayBears for the Southern League playoffs, losing both starts. Holmberg's scouting report has been consistent since his debut. He's polished, composed, mature and throws strikes. He shows excellent command and feel for pitching, and he's a good bet to reach his ceiling as a No. 4 starter. Holmberg has firmed up his body since starting pro ball and is more athletic than he appears. His fastball generally sits in the 89-91 mph range, touching 93 this year, but at times he pitches with below-average velocity, relying instead on run, sink and command. His changeup is his best pitch, and his curveball, which he throws for strikes at 73-75 mph, is close to an average pitch. His delivery has deception and he uses both sides of the plate well. Holmberg has drawn comparisons with Mark Buehrle, which would put him in line for a nice career if he reaches that ceiling. He's ready for Triple-A Reno and should be ready when an emergency starter is needed at the big league level in 2014.
Trahan, whose first name comes from a character in a Burt Reynolds movie, was the first high school catcher taken in the 2012 draft, when the Diamondbacks popped him at No. 26 overall. Signed for a $1.7 million bonus, Trahan advanced to the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2013 after a stint in extended spring training. He missed a month when he returned home after the death of his mother. Scouts have differing opinions about whether Trahan can (or should) stay behind the plate. Some think his bat would develop faster without the strain of learning the intricacies of catching. But he continues to work hard, showing improvement with his blocking and footwork. His arm is well above-average, allowing him to throw out 40 percent of Pioneer League basestealers, but he sometimes loses focus behind the plate. Trahan is still finding his swing and struggled with pitches featuring good spin in 2013, but he showed plenty of pull power with Missoula, leading the team in home runs. He got bigger in his second pro season, probably the result of too much weight work, and will work to get into better baseball shape in the offseason. Arizona plans to keep Trahan behind the plate for now. He's ready for his full-season debut in 2014, which should come at low Class A South Bend.
First drafted by the Cubs in 2010 after pitching at Jefferson (Mo.) CC, Stites didn't sign and instead moved on to Missouri for his junior year. The Padres took Stites in the 17th round in 2011 and immediately moved him to a bullpen role. He opened 2013 as the closer at Double-A San Antonio before landing on the disabled list with an appendectomy. While he was laid up, the Padres traded him to the Diamondbacks in the Ian Kennedy deal. Stites is short and athletic, with a quick arm. He works with a fastball from 94-98 mph that gets on hitters quickly, as well as an effective slider. He throws his breaking ball with power, reaching 87 mph, and at times it has late, sharp action. He uses his lower half well, which gives him the plus velocity despite a smaller frame. Stites' changeup is a work in progress that he hopes to use against lefthanded batters. His best attribute is his strike-throwing ability, and he has the system's best control. Stites got back on the mound during instructional league and then spent six weeks in the Arizona Fall League, where he knocked off the rust and finished with nine scoreless outings, the last seven with no walks. The Diamondbacks will give Stites a chance to compete for a bullpen spot in spring training. He'll probably begin the year at Triple-A Reno, with a good chance for big league time before the year is out.
Drury came off a subpar 2012 season in his first try at low Class A when the Braves included him in the seven-player trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta. He repeated the level in his first season as a Diamondback and was a much different ballplayer, leading the Midwest League in doubles (51), games (134) and extra-base hits (70) while also improving significantly on defense. When Drury was with the Braves, many scouts expected him to have to move off the hot corner, but he now looks to be a solid-average defender with good hands and an above-average arm that allows him to play deep. He has an excellent frame and good athleticism for the position. As a hitter, Drury showed average power, good plate discipline and a swing with leverage last season, and scouts believe he hasn't yet tapped into his full power potential. He stood taller in his stance, which helped him get extended more consistently. He's a well below-average runner. Drury will have to keep hitting because the Diamondbacks have depth at third base with Matt Davidson ahead of him on the prospect list and Jake Lamb ahead of him developmentally. Drury's next big test will be an assignment to the high Class A California League, where his bat should play even better in more hitter-friendly environments.
Barrett passed on a pro career as a Blue Jays third-round pick out of high school in 2009, instead choosing to stay home to play at Arizona State. The Diamondbacks popped him in the 2012 draft's third round and signed him for $392,900. After starting his college career as a starter, Barrett switched to closer as an ASU junior, and that could be his role moving forward. He broke out with dominating performances at both high Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile in 2013, commanding three pitches, including a 94-98 mph fastball. He has the ability to use both sides of the plate. Barrett throws his plus slider, a pitch with tight, late break, in any count and gets plenty of swings and misses with it. His changeup has improved to fringe-average, if not better, and he continued to work on it in the Arizona Fall League. Barrett's delivery is a bit rough, with a lot of effort, but it doesn't keep him from commanding his pitches. With Arizona's closer situation in flux, he could become a key piece in the big league bullpen after more seasoning at Triple-A Reno.
The Diamondbacks gambled that they could iron out Lamb's swing when they selected him from Washington in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. So far, so good. After a strong 2012 debut at Rookie-level Missoula, Lamb jumped two levels to high Class A Visalia for 2013. He slammed eight homers in the first half while posting a .973 OPS to make the California League midseason all-star team, but he had to drop out when he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist in early June. He returned in early August and finished the year with a solid Arizona Fall League showing. Lamb's raw power began to emerge in 2013, and he offers a patient approach from the left side with the ability to go deep into counts, meaning he could hit for both solid average and power. He's a plus defender at third base with an above-average arm, though he can still be inconsistent on routine plays. Lamb projects as a big league third baseman, and he's ready to move to Double-A Mobile in 2014.
A nephew of former big league middle infielder Anderson Hernandez, Alcantara signed with the Diamondbacks for $700,000 in July 2012. Expected to spend his first pro season in the Dominican Summer League, he instead served as starting shortstop and leadoff hitter in the Rookie-level Arizona League following an eye-opening performance at the end of spring training. While he still has room to fill out, Alcantara more than held his own in the AZL, leading the league in walks (44) and turning on more fastballs later in the season. With good instincts and bat speed from both sides of the plate, he projects to develop gap power as he matures physically. He already has advanced skills in the field, with an accurate, double-plus throwing arm to pair with good hands and footwork. An average runner now, he could develop into a basestealer with experience and maturity. Alcantara probably will stay back in extended spring training in 2014 before reporting to short-season Hillsboro.
The Diamondbacks kicked off the 2013 draft with a pair of advanced college pitchers--Braden Shipley (15th overall) and Aaron Blair (36th)--then in the second round went for a power bat in Williams. The Louisiana native was a shortstop in high school despite his physical frame. Converted to the outfield as a pro, Williams' inexperience in left field showed in his first year. He's a hard worker whom the organization believes will have the arm strength to handle right field once he improves his throwing technique. He had no trouble with the bat in his first year, showing power potential and the ability to hit the ball to all fields. Despite not turning 18 until late in the season, Williams was promoted twice in 2013, moving first to the Rookie-level Pioneer League and then to low Class A South Bend to finish the year. The ball jumps off his bat, which could lead to more over-the-fence power with experience. He's a below-average runner who runs a bit better underway. Since he's already seen the bright lights of South Bend, Williams may be challenged with a return assignment to the Midwest League.
One of the most dominant closers in college baseball as an Oregon sophomore and junior, Sherfy dropped to the 10th round of the 2013 draft, where the Diamondbacks signed him for $100,000. His small stature and somewhat funky delivery must have scared off some teams, because his lightning-quick arm and electric stuff certainly play up in the bullpen. After pitching nine shutout innings with a 17/1 SO/BB ratio at short-season Hillsboro, Sherfy moved to low Class A South Bend to finish 2013. His low-three-quarters arm slot concerns some scouts in terms of its repeatability. His fastball sits at 95-96 mph and touches 98. His low-80s slider has the potential to be a wipeout pitch, along the lines of Giants closer Sergio Romo. Sherfy loves to pitch in pressure situations and could move quickly through the system, potentially following the path taken in 2012 by Jake Barrett, which means half the year at high Class A Visalia and half at Double-A Mobile.
A 2008 second-round pick, Spruill pitched for five seasons in the Braves organization, spending the last season and a half at the Double-A level. The Diamondbacks acquired Spruill, a Georgia native, along with Martin Prado and Randall Delgado in the deal that shipped Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta. Spruill returned to the Southern League for five starts before moving up to Triple-A Reno, where his performance varied in 16 starts. He made his big league debut by making two starts and four relief appearances during callups in June and August. Big league opponents hit .354 against Spruill as he struggled to mix his pitches effectively. He's a groundball pitcher with a good sinker whose stuff should play well at Chase Field. He works his two-seam fastball in the 90-94 mph range and it has plus movement. His changeup is a solid-average pitch with sink complementing the fastball. Spruill's best breaking ball is his slider, which showed improvement in 2013 and projects to average. He'll contend for a roster spot in spring training but could spend another year on the Reno-to-Phoenix shuttle.
Arizona shifted its focus from power pitchers to power bats for their second- and third-round picks in the 2013 draft, taking Justin Williams in the third, followed by Palka, the Atlantic Coast Conference home run champ, in the fourth. Palka started his pro career at Rookie-level Missoula after signing for $550,000. He played mostly right field and pitched at Georgia Tech because of his strong left arm, but his lack of athleticism resulted in a move to first base in pro ball. Palka hit well at both Missoula and then short-season Hillsboro, though a hitch in his swing results in plenty of whiffs. He's got strong hands and plenty of bat speed, so the raw power should play when he solidifies his approach and gets used to seeing better breaking stuff. Palka is still very raw at first base but made improvements with footwork and positioning during instructional league. He'll make his full-season debut in 2014 with a probable assignment to low Class A South Bend.
A Braves second-round pick in 2011, Ahmed is another in the bundle of players received by the Diamondbacks in the January 2013 Justin Upton trade. Regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops in the minors, he struggled mightily with the bat at Double-A Mobile over the first two months of 2013 before righting the ship and hitting .284/.326/.404 in the final three months. Scouts who believe in Ahmed think he'll hit enough to contribute at the big league level because he's athletic, drives the ball with his hips and has good bat speed. Others see too much weak contact to project his bat as anything but well below-average. Ahmed is a plus defender at shortstop with soft hands, a strong, accurate arm and a quick release. He's an above-average runner with plenty of first-step quickness. He also shows good instincts on the bases, having swiped 26 bags in 2013 and 40 the year before. Ahmed has good makeup and draws comparisons with former Diamondbacks shortstop John McDonald, who carved out a long career with a similar skillset. Ahmed will move to Triple-A Reno for 2014, but with a lot of shortstops ahead of him in the organization he'll likely spend the whole season there.
A starter at Kansas State before moving to the bullpen as a junior in 2011, Marshall signed for $232,500 as a fourth-round pick and has moved quickly through the system, reaching Triple-A Reno in 2013. Scouts project him to have enough stuff to pitch at the back of a bullpen. Marshall throws a big, 92-96 mph fastball with heavy sink and a hard, true curveball. His funky delivery features a deceptive body turn and a three-quarters arm slot. When Marshall fails to execute his pitch, he often misses down because of the natural sink, so his mistakes tend to stay in the ballpark. He's allowed two home runs in each of the past two seasons. What's holding him back right now is a lack of fastball command and control, because without improvement in that area he's probably more middle reliever than impact set-up man. Marshall will be one of an army of pitchers battling for a big league bullpen job in 2014, and he could rack up plenty of frequent-flyer miles traveling between Reno and Phoenix.
Perez signed for $235,000 after being selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, making rapid progress by jumping from Rookie-level Missoula in 2012 to high Class A Visalia in 2013. He wound up having a lost season, missing time in spring training with a fractured hamate bone in his wrist and then missing three weeks in May after getting hit in the face by a bat. Perez's aggressive hitting approach got exposed by the better pitching in the California League even when he was healthy. He was taking longer and loopier swings with Visalia and hit just .173 before being demoted to low Class A South Bend. Perez hit better there, but still struggled to maintain consistency. He remains the best defensive catcher in the system, and he improved his blocking of pitches in 2013. Despite his offensive struggles at Visalia, he threw out 43 percent of basestealers thanks to an above-average arm and good footwork behind the plate. Most notably, he improved his command of the English language, enhancing his ability to work with the pitchers. Perez learned from his adversity and ought to be ready for a repeat trip to Visalia in 2014.
Gibson joins the University of Florida parade of lefty power relievers to march from Gainesville through the pro ranks. The Angels' Nick Maronde and the Dodgers' Paco Rodriguez, former Gators both, reached the big leagues in 2012. A seventh-round pick in 2013, Gibson signed for $178,600 before reporting first to short-season Hillsboro and then low Class A South Bend. He pitched well at both stops, with a cumulative 0.64 ERA and 27/10 SO/BB ratio in 28 innings. If Gibson's command improves, he could project as a quality set-up man. Otherwise he can function as a situational lefty because he creates terrific angle against same-side hitters. His hard fastball is a plus pitch, ranging from 92-96 mph and sitting at 94. His slider and curveball are both average pitches. Gibson gets the ball across the plate, but not without some funkiness to his across-the-body delivery. Power lefthanders tend to move quickly, so Gibson could begin 2014 at high Class A Visalia.
More famous for being the younger brother of Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra, Geordy began gaining attention for his pitching in 2013. He has gained about 40 pounds since signing out of Venezuela in 2011 and has added a splitter to his arsenal to now look like a late-inning reliever in the making. Parra dominated the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2013 with a 0.40 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 23 innings. After working with a high-80s fastball in 2012, Parra now commands a 92-97 mph heater and at times shows a plus splitter at 84-86. He's also got good command of a curveball that at times flashes average potential. Parra is a strike-throwing machine who repeats his delivery and uses a high three-quarters arm slot. He's a hard worker who takes his side sessions and bullpen work seriously. Parra will be just 20 as 2014 opens, so a return to low Class A South Bend is his most likely destination.
A reliever at Oklahoma prior to signing with the Diamondbacks for $85,000 as a ninth-round round pick in 2009, Anderson joined the Arizona 40-man roster after a strong Arizona Fall League showing in 2012. He struggled as a starter at Triple-A Reno in 2013 before being shut down for six weeks at midseason with a triceps strain. Anderson returned as a reliever, and that may be his role moving forward in order to keep him healthy after a series of arm problems, including a forearm strain that caused him to miss nearly all of 2011. He has the repertoire to start but perhaps not the durability. The highlight of Anderson's arsenal is a double-plus changeup, perennially rated as the best in the organization, which plays well off his fastball. His heater sits in the 87-92 mph range, though it tends to get flat when he worked in the rotation. Anderson also has a curveball with good depth and a useable slider. He repeats his delivery and throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot, throwing enough strikes to profile as a middle reliever. He heads to camp in 2014 looking for a bullpen job in Arizona.
Chafin made his full-season debut in 2012 at high Class A Visalia after signing with the Diamondbacks for $875,000 as the 43rd overall pick the previous year. After striking out 11.0 batters per nine innings in 2012, Chafin showed diminished velocity in his return to the California League in 2013. His fastball, which previously sat in the 90-94 mph range, dipped into the 89-91 range and sometimes lower. Chafin's slider at times lacked the depth and tilt that made it a plus pitch in the past, but he improved his changeup enough to the point where it's now an above-average pitch. After a six-start encore in Visalia, Chafin moved up to Double-A Mobile, where he worked more on pitching to contact. A lower walk rate at Mobile also was a positive sign that Chafin was more aggressive in the zone. His funky delivery provides deception and helps him get the ball on batters more quickly. Considering that he might recover velocity in short relief outings, that might be his best role. Assigned to the Arizona Fall League to work as a reliever, Chafin was shut down with a dead arm after two outings.
Marte took six years before breaking out with a strong season at Double-A Mobile during the 2011 season, which included an appearance at the Futures Game. Sent down to minor league camp during 2013 spring training, Marte reappeared after injuries struck down outfielders Adam Eaton and Cody Ross, and he wound up making the Opening Day roster. Demoted to Triple-A Reno in mid-May, Marte was hit in the face by a pitch and missed about a month. He had modest success at Triple-A and didn't return to Arizona when rosters expanded in September. He shows flashes of turning the corner but frustrates by never quite putting it all together. He's athletic and has plenty of pull power, but he went deep just seven times in Triple-A after hitting 20 homers with Mobile in 2012. He showed improvement in the outfield and with an average arm is capable of handling right field. Marte profiles best as an extra outfielder with close-to-average tools across the board, but he could earn regular playing time if it all comes together. He appears ticketed for Reno to begin 2014, waiting there for another opportunity.
Munoz made strides on both sides of the ball as the everyday shortstop at Rookie-level Missoula in 2013. A second-round pick the year before, he hit .360/.433/.663 with five homers in July but managed a .625 OPS the rest of the way. Munoz's power is slowly developing, but scouts ding him for below-average bat speed that makes him vulnerable to good fastballs. He split time at both shortstop and third base during instructional league, and at a physical 6-foot-3 he could eventually outgrow shortstop and need to move to the hot corner, where his bat could be a tough sell. Defensively, Munoz's footwork and hands improved in 2013. He has average range at shortstop but needs to better learn game situations and pre-pitch positioning. His above-average arm will play at either spot on the left side of the infield. Munoz will be 20 in 2014 so he could use another year of development in short-season ball, though a move to low Class A South Bend is most likely.
A product of Basha High in Chandler, Ariz., Westbrook stuck close to home when he began his pro career in the Rookie-level Arizona League after signing for $450,000 as a Diamondbacks fifth-round pick. He's a gamer and coach's favorite who loves to play and improve. The prep shortstop didn't have the arm strength to stay at the position in pro ball, but he handled the move to second base, where he could be an average defender if he improves his arm strength, footwork and hands. Westbrook swings the bat well with a compact, righthanded swing, good bat speed and power for his size. One observer compared him with Dan Uggla for his squat body type and pop in his bat. Westbrook's average speed plays up on the bases because of his aggressive nature and the way he studies pitcher tendencies. He'll get another year in short-season ball in 2014, possibly at short-season Hillsboro.
The Bronx, N.Y., native turned pro rather than attend Virginia Tech when the Diamondbacks offered him $200,000 as a seventh-round pick in 2012. After a successful debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, he played so well in 2013 extended spring training that Arizona assigned him to low Class A South Bend in early June. A diminutive switch-hitter, Velazquez had his ups and downs in full-season ball, but he finished strong by batting .303/.404/.360 over the final month after gaining a better understanding of the strike zone. While he doesn't hit for power, he generates above-average bat speed owing to strong hands. He's a plus runner with good instincts on the bases, but he needs to learn better basestealing techniques. Primarily a second baseman in 2012, Velasquez actually spent more time at shortstop with South Bend. He has the arm strength for the position but needs to learn how to go to his backhand and throw from different angles. Velazquez may return to South Bend for more seasoning, and he profiles best as a utility infielder.
The feel good story of 2013 for the Diamondbacks, Schultz originally signed with the Athletics as a nondrafted free agent from Northwestern in 2008. He pitched parts of four seasons in the Oakland organization, topping out at high Class A, before being released and landing in the independent American Association in 2011. Previously a sidearm pitcher who sat in the high 80s, Schultz raised his arm slot to high-three-quarters with Arizona in 2012, which had the effect of adding velocity and improving his secondary pitches. The D-backs used him as a reliever at two levels in 2012 but put him in the rotation at Double-A Mobile in 2013. While Schultz's two-seam fastball has sink and some movement, he doesn't offer much deception. He pitched regularly in the low 90s as a starter, and Arizona says he even hit triple digits at Mobile while also improving his cutter-type slider, his most trusted secondary pitch. The changeup is still a work in progress. Schultz has plus makeup, so after raising eyebrows with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, he earned a spot on the 40-man roster and a chance to win a job with the big club in 2014.
The top catcher on the 2013 international market, Herrera tried out with the Diamondbacks during extended spring training. The relationship that developed convinced the native Venezuelan to sign with Arizona for $1,060,000 on July 2, when 16-year-old international amateurs became eligible to sign. Herrera played for Venezuela's 15U World Championship team in 2012, making the all-tournament team not long after converting to catcher from third base. He's relatively new to switch-hitting but already shows the potential to hit for power from both sides because he has strength and the lift in his swing. He also has a good batting eye at the plate. Defensively, Herrera shows quickness behind the plate, good hands and a solid arm that could project to be above-average. While he needs a lot of experience, he's already ahead of other catchers his age. Herrera will turn 17 just before the start of spring training. Considering that the Diamondbacks brought him to the States for instructional league, they could choose to have him begin his pro career in the Rookie-level Arizona League.