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Not every trade for prospects works out for the team trading away big league talent, but the Diamondbacks certainly benefited from the deal in which they sent veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Brewers in 2014 in exchange for Banda and outfielder Mitch Haniger. The trade was the D-backs' second attempt to bring Banda into the organization after previously drafting the Texas native in the 33rd round out of high school in 2011. Banda instead played one year at junior college powerhouse San Jacinto, where he went 6-0, 1.95 to help the Gators to a second-place finish at the Division I NJCAA World Series. After his year at San Jacinto, Banda was selected by Milwaukee in the 10th round in 2012 and signed for an over-slot $125,000 bonus. He made it to low Class A with the Brewers by his third season before moving to the D-backs organization. Banda struggled with his command in the early part of his career but started throwing more strikes and increased his velocity not long after joining Arizona. He showed continual improvement in 2015 and 2016. He got a big boost after the 2015 season when he worked with former big league southpaw Mike Gonzalez, a fellow native of the Corpus Christi area and also a one-time San Jacinto pitcher. Shortly after being promoted from Double-A Mobile to Triple-A Reno midway through the 2016 season, Banda was Arizona's lone representative at the Futures Game. By the end of the year, he ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Double-A Southern League and No. 20 in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He led the D-backs system with 152 strikeouts and ranked second with a 2.88 ERA in 150 innings. Banda uses a four-seam fastball with armside run that has continually ticked up during his pro career. His heater sat 86-89 mph in junior college but now sits 92-95 and touches 96 because to added strength and improved mechanics. The jewel of his arsenal is a slow, mid-70s curveball that flashes plus at times, and he complements the breaking ball with an at least average, firm changeup with down movement. He repeats his smooth, easy delivery and effectively sequences his pitches. Banda consistently records high strikeout totals, with a career rate of 8.8 per nine innings. He has walked just 3.2 per nine since joining Arizona. One area for improvement is to better control the running game and other small facets of pitching. Previously cast as a potential No. 5 starter or reliever, Banda is now viewed as a possible mid-rotation arm with one plus pitch and two other average-or-better weapons and above-average control. He will go to big league spring training in 2017 with a chance to break camp on the 25-man roster. More likely he winds up back at Reno for more seasoning. He should make his big league debut at some point in 2017.
Originally signed by the Blue Jays in 2011 for $1.3 million, Lugo was acquired by the Diamondbacks in August 2015 for veteran infielder Cliff Pennington. Lugo dropped 15 pounds at the beginning of 2016, and his better conditioning helped him become a more explosive in all facets of his game. He did everything well at high Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile before finishing the 2016 season in the Arizona Fall league. Lugo also became more disciplined at the plate by significantly improving his strikeout rate from 17.5 percent in 2015 to 11 percent in 2016. A potentially average hitter with quick hands, Lugo shows excellent hand-eye coordination and has above-average power with strong wrists. Defensively, Lugo came up as a shortstop but has moved to third base, where he has good hands and a plus arm. He will return to Double-A to begin 2017 and has a good chance to reach Triple-A Reno during the summer.
After struggling at high Class A Visalia in 2015 at age 19, Leyba returned to the California League and produced much better results in 2016. Arizona got him from the Tigers (with lefthander Robbie Ray) after the 2014 season in the three-team deal that sent Didi Gregorius to the Yankees. Leyba boosted his Cal League OPS by nearly 200 points in 2016 to earn a promotion to Double-A Mobile. Overall he hit .296/.355/.429 in 130 games. The key to Leyba's improvement came by becoming more selective at the plate, with his walk total increasing from 26 in 2015 to 46 in 2016. He has a contact-oriented line-drive approach with hands that work well from both sides of the plate and a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. A potentially above-average hitter, Leyba also showed increasing power with 10 home runs in 2016. That exceeded the nine he hit in the first three years of his career. His solid infield instincts and good positioning help to make up for an arm and range that are both a little short for shortstop, but he has shown himself to be an average or better second baseman. His work ethic earns strong reviews across the board from the organization. Leyba is taking the steps forward to become a solid everyday middle infielder. He will return to Double-A to begin 2017.
Injuries to two starting outfielders gave Brito a chance to seize a permanent role with the Diamondbacks in 2016. Instead, he struggled at the plate and spent more than half the season at Triple-A Reno. He also missed time with a fractured toe. Brito still possesses the tools that have tantalized since he first signed with Arizona in 2010. He has upper-body strength with good line-drive power to the gaps, but he hasn't yet developed a good approach at the plate or the feel to hit. He could stand to work counts better. A plus runner with a plus arm, Brito has the ability and range to play all three outfield positions, though some don't believe he's agile enough for center field. He also needs to learn to use his speed better on the bases. Brito fractured his hamate in November while preparing for winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. While he should be healed in time for spring training, the injury is worth watching as he tries to win a big league job out of camp.
The Diamondbacks were restricted in 2015 from signing any international player for more than $300,000 because they exceeded their pool amount the previous year, but the organization found a diamond in the rough in Chisholm, who signed for $200,000. The half-brother of Rays prospect Lucius Fox, Chisholm displays a swagger on the field befitting his nickname "Jazz." (He was born Jasrado.) The D-backs assigned the native Bahamian to Rookie-level Missoula in 2016, and he ranked among the Pioneer League's top prospects. Chisholm projects to be an above-average hitter, with good bat speed and the ability to barrel balls and handle velocity. The ball jumps off his bat and he has enough power to project double-digit home run totals each year, though he could use more polish to his plate approach. Chisholm is at least an average runner, perhaps a tick above, and he should get faster as his legs get stronger. Defensively, he is athletic and at times a plus defender with good hands and an average arm, but he needs to learn to slow the game down. Chisholm is very confident on the field, with scouts noting he thinks he's a big leaguer. Chisholm has the highest ceiling of any position player in the system. He should be ready for a move to full-season ball in 2017, with a likely assignment to low Class A Kane County.
Grier was Arizona's top pick at No. 39 overall in 2016 after the Diamondbacks forfeited their first-round selection by signing Zack Greinke. Grier signed for $1.5 million. A breakout season his sophomore year at Auburn originally put Grier on draft watch lists, and he improved his stock as a junior when he hit .366/.457/.576 with a team-leading 12 home runs. A shoulder injury suffered during a pre-draft workout limited Grier mostly to a DH role in his pro debut. While he struggled at the plate in his pro debut, Grier has a good feel to hit with sneaky power that should come out with more strength, making him a possibly average hitter with average power potential down the road. The ball comes off his bat well, but he struggles with breaking pitches from righthanders. A 28 percent strikeout rate in his pro debut, similar to his college total, raises concerns about Grier's approach at the plate, and he will need to make better contact to use his plus speed. Scouts graded him as a plus defender in college, with his slightly below-average arm being enough for center field. Grier should be fully recovered from his shoulder injury by spring training and ready for a full-season assignment to low Class A Kane County.
Clarke made some impressive moves in 2016, his first full season. After starting at low Class A Kane County he passed through high Class A Visalia and reached Double-A Mobile before the end of May. He pitched well at all three levels, going 12-9, 3.31 with 118 strikeouts and just 33 walks. Clarke sports a solid, muscular frame, with his best attributes on the mound being solid pitchability, command of three pitches and the ability to work up and down in the zone. He gets good downhill plane from a fastball that sits 91-94 mph and touches 96. He gets angle with cut action. Clarke's plus command allows his fastball to play up, and he moves it around to change eye levels. His best secondary pitch is a solid-average slider with downer action that flashes plus. An average changeup rounds out the repertoire. He had Tommy John surgery in college, so the D-backs took it cautiously in his first pro season. His 27 starts in 2016 showed he could take the ball every fifth day. He's very competitive and may be ready for Triple-A Reno in 2017. He profiles as a No. 4 starter.
Keller impressively survived as a 21-year old in the unforgiving Cal League in 2016, throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the park in a productive season at high Class A Visalia. His most impressive attribute was a walk rate of 1.7 per nine innings, and his 1.28 WHIP ranked fifth in the circuit. Keller is a pitch-to-contact type who consistently throws strikes with an advanced feel for pitching. His fastball ranges from 89-93 mph and typically sits 91, and there could be more velocity to come with experience. He commands his heater really well, cuts and sinks it, and pitches to both sides of the plate. Keller shows a good feel for his average secondary pitches, a slider and changeup. Keller keeps the ball down, and more than half of balls in play against him were hit on the ground in 2016. He has also shown himself to be durable and held up over 142 innings in 2015 and 135 in 2016. Keller will open 2017 as a 21-year-old with Arizona's new Double-A Jackson affiliate. He projects as either a No. 3 or 4 starter depending on the development of his offspeed pitches.
Duplantier is a wild card for the Diamondbacks because he has explosive stuff but a concerning injury record. He missed all of the 2015 college season at Rice with a shoulder injury that did not require surgery, and an elbow issue limited him to only one inning in his pro debut at short-season Hillsboro after he signed for $686,600. Further, he didn't get on the mound in instructional league after he suffered a pulled hamstring during pitcher fielding practice. Duplantier is a strong, physical righthander who struck out 12 batters per nine innings in 2016 at Rice to rank eighth among Division I pitchers and earn third-team All-America honors. Duplantier used a 90-95 mph fastball in college, and he flashed an above-average curveball with some power and a developing changeup that still is a work-in-progress. The control of his pitches suffers when his arm slot wanders, prompted by his shoulder flying open too quickly in his delivery. While he didn't get into games during instructs, Duplantier threw a few bullpen sessions and reported no issues with his elbow. Months of rest after a customarily heavy Rice workload could do wonders for Duplantier and his health. While he could move quickly as a power reliever relying on his two best pitches, Duplantier will stay in the rotation for now as he makes his full-season debut at low Class A Kane County in 2017.
Taylor was one of four Canadians drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2016 and comes out of the same college program--University of British Columbia--that produced former big league southpaw Jeff Francis. Taylor was a reliever his first two college seasons before moving to the rotation for his junior year, when he posted a 1.96 ERA with an outstanding 113-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After signing for $496,700, he pitched effectively out of the short-season Hillboro bullpen, fanning 12.4 batters per nine innings. Taylor's firm fastball sits 93-96 mph with plus sink out of his 6-foot-6 frame. He gets good life on the pitch, with at least one report having him touching 99 mph during the summer. He flashes a plus slider and has emerging feel for his changeup, though the pitch remains fringe-average at best. Taylor has a quick arm with a max-effort delivery that features a three-quarters arm slot and a funky arm action, but he repeats his motion and it adds deception. His delivery and two-pitch mix portend a future bullpen role, but he has the stuff to start and will be developed in that role for now. He will head to full-season ball in 2017, most likely low Class A Kane County as part of the Cougars rotation.
Young pitched sparingly after being drafted 43rd overall in 2015 after his long college season at Texas Christian, but the gloves came off in 2016. He missed about six weeks in April and May 2016 with a forearm sprain but still pitched 118.2 innings and advanced from low Class A Kane County to high Class A Visalia. Young is a pitch-to-contact, command-driven lefty who typically sits 88-90 mph with his fastball and can touch 92. The velocity on Young's heater was down a couple ticks in 2016, but he was still effective with a wider repertoire. His breaking ball is called a true curveball by some observers and a slider by others, explained by the fact that it was not as firm as the previous year. Regardless of what it's called, Young's 76-81 mph breaking ball is an above-average pitch with plus potential. His changeup, which was newer coming out of college, is now a solid-average offering in the mid-80s. Young has good feel for pitching and is a competitor who likes to get the ball in big-game situations. At his best his command is superb, which is exemplified by an 88-pitch complete game he threw against Inland Empire. Keeping his command consistently sharp, though, remains a work in progress for Young and will be key for his development moving forward with no plus offerings in his arsenal. He projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter and is expected to start at Double-A Jackson in 2017.
A closer during his college career at Louisville, Koch (pronounced "cook") has jumped back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen during his five-year pro career. The Diamondbacks acquired him from the Mets in 2015 for big league reliever Addison Reed. After 14 starts for Double-A Mobile and seven for Triple-A Reno in 2016, Koch finished the year with seven big league appearances, including a pair of solid starts in which he gave up just three runs in 11 innings. He is an effective strike-thrower who doesn't miss a lot of bats who uses a four-seam fastball and cutter in the low to mid-90s with sinking action. Koch's average low-80s slider has good depth, and he uses an above-average, firm changeup in the mid-80s. He effectively repeats his three-quarters arm slot. While he pitched effectively as a starter in the minors, Koch is viewed by most observers as a big league bullpen arm with a good chance of earning a job in the D-backs pen out of spring training.
Sherfy appeared to be on the fast track through the Diamondbacks system his first two pro seasons thanks to an electric fastball and two solid offspeed pitches. He struggled mightily at Double-A Mobile in 2015, however, and took a step back to high Class A Visalia to start 2016. Sherfy got back on track both in the Cal League and in a return to Mobile, striking out 52 batters and yielding only one run in 32 innings. A 6.17 ERA in 23.1 innings at Triple-A Reno was inflated by two particularly poor outings. The key for Sherfy in 2016 was improving his focus and developing a better routine off the field, as well as making mechanical changes on the mound that helped him better maintain his stuff. He delivers a fastball in the 95-98 mph range and a plus slider at 87-91. He complements his primary pitches with an 88-92 mph changeup and mid-70s curveball. The D-backs added Sherfy to the 40-man roster after the 2016 season, and he will head to spring training with a shot at being part of the team's rebuilt bullpen. His electric stuff and two potential plus pitches give him closer potential.
The Diamondbacks went for a high school power bat in the second round in 2016, signing Yerzy for $1,214,100 to keep the Canadian high school product from honoring his commitment to Notre Dame. Coming into the draft, Yerzy was regarded as a bat-first catcher with questions about his ability to stay behind the plate because of a slow, stiff body and a fringy arm. He is intelligent with great makeup, and he made good progress at 2016 instructional league, where D-backs coaches worked on Yerzy's defensive technique to try to mold him into an average defender. His fringe-average arm is accurate but his arm action gets long at times. Yerzy had a rough pro debut at the plate, batting just .216/.240/.265 at two Rookie-level stops. He has a calm approach from the left side and started using his legs better at instructs. Yerzy projects to be an above-average hitter with power, but it won't come quickly. He is considered a long-term project who will spend the 2017 season in a short-season league, perhaps short-season Hillsboro.
One of four players acquired from the Mariners in 2015 when Arizona traded Mark Trumbo, Reinheimer completed his first full season in the Diamondbacks organization by being added to the 40-man roster after a solid year at Triple-A Reno. He has a ceiling as a major league utility infielder, but that's also his floor. He projects to have a long career as a capable backup. A hard-nosed, scrappy player, Reinheimer is a below-average hitter with little home run power, though his 37 extra-base hits at Reno indicate he may have enough pop to earn pitchers' respect. He gets in trouble at the plate by expanding his strike zone, which leads to higher-than-desired strikeout totals. An above-average runner, Reinheimer led Reno with 20 stolen bases and has swiped a total of 98 bags over four minor league seasons. Defensively, he plays fast and with great timing and rhythm to his game. His instincts are good, his hands are solid-average and he has an above-average arm. Reinheimer will go to spring training with a shot at a big league role as a reserve infielder but may wind up back at Reno to wait his turn.
Lemieux, a distant cousin of hockey legend Mario Lemieux, was first drafted in 2015 in the 14th round by the Nationals after finishing his Florida high school career. Instead of signing, he chose to play junior-college ball at Palm Beach State, where he recorded a 2.79 ERA and struck out nearly a batter per inning. Selected by the Diamondbacks in the sixth round in 2016 and signed for $278,500, Lemieux started his pro career with seven strong starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League before heading to short-season Hillsboro. He recorded a 3.03 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 35.2 innings between the two levels. Lemieux has good body control and a quick arm that delivers a fastball that sits 90-91 mph and touches 93. There is room on his frame to add strength, so that velocity should tick up as his body matures. Both his curveball and 82-83 mph changeup project as above-average pitches. He has a loose arm with a simple high three-quarters arm slot that he repeats well. Lemieux projects as a lefthander for the middle or back of a rotation, and he should get to full-season ball in 2017 at low Class A Kane County.
Duran signed in 2014 for a mere $65,000 and has morphed into one of the most projectable arms in the Diamondbacks system with his 6-foot-5, 175-pound frame and electric fastball. With his very lean but wiry strong frame, he already has a fastball up to 98 mph with good movement. He uses a repeatable, effortless delivery with an easy arm stroke and projects to develop better command of the pitch. His high-80s curveball is still inconsistent, grading sometimes as below-average and at other times flashing as a plus pitch. It plays up because he throws it for strikes. Duran also is developing a feel for a high-80s changeup. It's scary to think how much harder he could throw when he adds strength to his frame, and that projection makes him the sleeper of the system. Duran will likely head to short-season Hillsboro as a teenager after opening the year in extended spring training.
One of the top international signings by the Red Sox in 2012, Almonte signed for $610,000 and worked his way to low Class A in 2016 before being traded to the Diamondbacks (along with second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe) for veteran reliever Brad Ziegler. Finishing the season at low Class A in Kane County, Almonte combined for a 3.56 ERA and a 104-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 108.2 innings. With a projectable body and good arm speed, he projects as a starter with good feel for both pitching and spin. He aggressively attacks hitters with his three-pitch mix, highlighted by an above-average fastball coming in at 89-94 mph, and he should be able to add more velocity with more strength. His 74-79 mph curveball projects as an above-average pitch and his average changeup has good fade, though he needs to use it more often. Almonte should be ready for the challenge of the hitter-friendly California League in 2017.
Miller was part of the Vanderbilt pitching staff during the Commodores' 2014 College World Series championship season. A college roommate of 2015 Diamondbacks first-rounder Dansby Swanson, he pitched both as a starter and in relief and got the win in the first game of the 2014 CWS Finals. The Diamondbacks took the hulking lefthander in the 11th round that year and signed him for an over-slot $150,000 bonus. Miller's career took off in 2016 after Arizona moved him to the bullpen. He zoomed through four levels of the organization and finished the season at Triple-A Reno before being one of the big surprises of the Arizona Fall League. He allowed no runs and just six hits in 18.1 innings with 30 strikeouts and four walks. Miller's funky, max-effort delivery has him falling to the third-base side but adds deception and doesn't affect his control. He uses a fastball with plus movement in the 92-94 mph range, but the jewel of his arsenal is an 83-88 mph slider with great tilt and depth that flashes plus and gets plenty of swings and misses. Miller's third pitch is a 77-83 mph curveball. While not yet on the 40-man roster, he has a good chance of getting to Chase Field at some point in 2017.
When one team signs twins who have the same first and last names, confusion is sure to abound. The Red Sox cleared things up for everyone by trading Luis Alejandro Basabe (known to his teammates as "A.J.") to the Diamondbacks along with Jose Almonte for righthander Brad Ziegler. (Boston later traded also Luis Alexander Basabe to the White Sox in the Chris Sale deal.) A.J. Basabe wasn't even supposed to make the low Class A Greenville roster after spending 2015 in the Gulf Coast League, but he played his way there in spring training, then proved to be a good enough hitter to move to the top of the lineup. Less physically gifted than his brother, Basabe has strong hand-eye coordination and table-setter skills. Basabe is stretched at shortstop because of his iffy footwork, but he's at least an average defender at second base. He lacks his brother's plus speed, but Basabe runs the bases well, has a chance to be an above-average hitter and has enough pop in his bat to survive. He struggled in Kane County after the trade, but as he's shown before, he generally figures out a way to catch up to the level. It's not out of the question that he'll improve enough at shortstop to be a potential utility infielder.
Huang signed with the Diamondbacks for $450,000 in 2014 after pitching at the National Taiwan University of Physical Education and Sport. Coming off a solid 2015 season at low Class A, Huang's 2016 season got off to a late start because of an offseason military commitment in Taiwan. After six rocky starts at high Class A Visalia he was shut down with shoulder fatigue and soreness. After a couple of months of rest and rehab, Huang finished the season pitching long-relief outings at short-season Hillsboro. His durability has been an ongoing issue and is a red flag moving forward. When he's right, Huang is able to locate his pitches well. He pitches to contact with a plus changeup that he uses to get swings and misses, and his fastball has good angle and sits 87-91 mph. His low-70s curveball is a below-average pitch. The most optimistic projection for Huang is No. 5 starter, but his subpar breaking ball and durability concerns may target him for a bullpen role. He likely will return to Visalia in 2017 to repeat the California League.
Wilson made it to full-season ball in his third year as a pro, which was just about what the organization expected when he was drafted 69th overall in 2014. He has always needed to add strength to his lean frame, and that still holds true, but he has made improvements to his approach at the plate in that time. Wilson began in extended spring training again, then advanced to short-season Hillsboro, where he hit .252/.418/.319. He spent August at low Class A Kane County with similar numbers. Wilson turned in the best walk rate of his career in 2016 (17.5 percent) but also recorded a high strikeout rate (24.7 percent). He was young for his draft class, so he still has time to develop the strength needed to tap into his bat speed. He's a solid defender who covers plenty of ground and has an average arm. A plus runner, Wilson stole 25 bases in 30 attempts in 2016. He will return to Kane County in 2017.
The Diamondbacks acquired Reyes from the Braves in April 2015 as part of a two-part trade that sent Trevor Cahill to Atlanta for salary relief, with the switch-hitting Reyes being swapped for a 2015 supplemental second-round pick. Reyes hit well in his second season with Arizona, batting .303/.349/.416 at high Class A Visalia with significantly better numbers in the second half. The consistent rap on him is that while he makes good contact and can handle velocity, he lacks strength in his swing and hits for very little power. He won't drive many balls over the fence but will hopefully develop more doubles power in time. He showed progress by learning how to hit the ball out in front and elevate the baseball. An at least above-average runner, Reyes legged out 12 triples and stole 20 bases in 2016. He's an above-average defender in the outfield, with his above-average arm being enough for right field. While he hasn't seen much time in center field, he's a competent defender there. Reyes will move to Double-A Jackson in 2017.
The Diamondbacks' top international signee in 2013, Herrera has consistently shown solid defensive skills behind the plate and an improving swing. The biggest impediment to the native Venezuelan's development has been an inability to stay healthy. He has been plagued by nagging injuries in both 2015 and 2016. Herrera caught regularly during extended spring training in 2016 but was limited to just 12 games behind the plate at Rookie-level Missoula before shutting down early with a hamate injury. He often batted as DH for the Osprey and showed good patience at the plate (9.7 percent walks). He hit a career-high five home runs. He has the raw power to develop more over-the-fence pop as he gets stronger. Behind the plate, Herrera blocks and throws well, albeit with improvement needed in shifting on pitches. Herrera's mental makeup is strong and he also got himself into better shape in 2016 by losing weight. After three years in short-season ball, Herrera will be ready for low Class A Kane County in 2017.
Taylor went undrafted after high school and junior college in the Phoenix area because he was a slender lefthander topping out in the 80s. He also didn't get much attention in his one year at Division II Georgia College & State, where he finished with a 5.62 ERA and 57 strikeouts against 41 walks. Taylor then touched 97 mph at the all-star game in the summer collegiate Northwoods League in 2014, which caught the attention of Phillies scouts, who signed the southpaw for $50,000. The Diamondbacks acquired Taylor about a year later when they unloaded $2.2 million in international bonus pool money in a trade with the Phillies. While he's never put up overwhelming numbers, Taylor jumped up the depth chart late in 2016 with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, where he recorded a 3.57 ERA with 20 strikeouts and five walks in 22.2 innings. His fastball sits 91-94 mph with decent cutting action in on righthanded batters and sinking action on lefthanders. None of his three secondary pitches--slider, curveball, changeup--grades as above-average, but deception in his repeatable delivery helps them play up. Taylor projects as a No. 5 starter, though his velocity would likely tick up pitching out of the bullpen.
Hathaway moved steadily through the Diamondbacks system after being drafted out of Franklin Pierce, where he helped the Ravens make it to the Division II College World Series. Hathaway twice had surgery in college and was already 23 when drafted. He made it to the big leagues during his fourth pro season in 2016 after pitching effectively at both Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. While slight of build, Hathaway has a loose, whippy arm and the ball jumps out of his hand from a high three-quarters arm slot. The key to his effectiveness in 2016 was an increase in fastball velocity, and he now sits 92-95 mph with a four-seamer that has natural sinking action with armside run. His high-70s curveball is an above-average pitch, and he also throws a firm mid-80s changeup. With a ceiling of a middle reliever, Hathaway is a strong candidate for a big league bullpen job in 2017.
Coming out of the same town that produced Todd Frazier, Rose is a New Jersey high school product who showed a better swing and defensive skills as the 2016 draft approached. Committed to Oklahoma State, he instead signed with the Diamondbacks for $400,000. Beginning his pro career in the Rookie-level Arizona League, Rose hit a modest .226/.310/.362 with one home run. But he delivered a .796 OPS in August as he learned how to stay inside the ball and use the middle of the field. Rose has a good swing and strength in his hands, with average to above-average power projected as he develops. He showed good actions at the plate and began making better contact during the season. Defensively, he showed surprisingly good lateral agility at third base with at least an above-average arm. He's a below-average runner. Rose will likely need to stay behind in extended spring training in 2017 before reporting to short-season Hillsboro for his second pro season.
The Diamondbacks hit the jackpot the last time they dipped into the independent ranks to sign a former Cardinals farmhand from Venezuela. David Peralta eventually became one of Arizona's regular outfielders. Their latest foray netted them Vargas, who began the 2015 season with Bridgeport of the Atlantic League after seven seasons in the St. Louis system. After playing his first season in the D-backs system at low Class A Kane County in 2015, Vargas split 2016 mostly between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. He hit .305 and struck out just 39 times in 133 games. Vargas is an extreme contact hitter who takes good at-bats but makes mostly soft contact. An average runner, he plays with a lot of energy and is capable of handling multiple positions in a utility role. He has soft hands and is an instinctive defender. The D-backs added Vargas to the 40-man roster after the 2016 season because he would have been eligible for minor league free agency otherwise. He heads back to Reno in 2017 to show his performance wasn't a fluke while waiting for a need to arise in Phoenix.
January had himself re-classified for the 2015 draft a year early so that he could get a jump start on his college career at Louisiana State. Instead he enrolled at San Jacinto (Texas) JC after going undrafted. A broken thumb at San Jac kept him from getting behind the plate in the latter part of the 2016 season, but he was one of the top performers for the Gators' run to second place in the Junior College World Series. January hit 10 home runs in junior college and then 10 more in his pro debut at Rookie-level Missoula after signing with Arizona for an over-slot $350,000. He caught in 38 of the Osprey's 75 games. January owns a live bat from the left side with plus raw power and loft in his swing, though it can get loopy at times. He's still relatively raw behind the plate, but is athletic and shows average or slightly above-average arm strength. There's still a lot of rawness to his game and he may need another year of short-season ball, but the tools and makeup are there.
The man known to short-season Hillsboro fans in his pro debut as "Touchdown Tommy" will be 23 in 2017, but he's still relatively new to pitching and owns a fresh arm. Originally a highly-touted football recruit, Eveld went to South Florida as a quarterback, but major knee surgery limited him to the scout team in his first two years on campus. He hadn't played baseball since the eighth grade but studied Nolan Ryan pitching videos on YouTube before joining a men's adult team. He later walked on to the USF baseball team and became the team's closer. He finished with a 2.21 ERA and nine saves. Signing for $125,000 after the Diamondbacks picked him in the ninth round, Eveld turned in an excellent season in the Northwest League. He recorded a 1.86 ERA and an excellent 31-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 29 innings. A fan favorite at Hops home games, he took the mound to the "Monday Night Football" theme. Eveld has a fastball that sits 92-95 mph and touches 97, and he complements it with an above-average power slider at 90-91 mph. He also occasionally uses a changeup and curveball, both which need further refinement. Already 23, Eveld will make the jump to full-season ball at low Class A Kane County in 2017.
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