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The Diamondbacks drafted Bradley No. 7 overall in 2011, compensation for not signing Barret Loux the previous year. Arizona paid a $5 million bonus to keep the multi-sport athlete from heading to Oklahoma to play football for the Sooners. After just two Rookie-league appearances in 2011, Bradley went right to low Class A South Bend in 2012 and shot through the system, ranking as one of the game's top pitching prospects. His 2014 was a disappointment for all involved, however. Bradley came to big league camp in 2014 with a shot at making the big league rotation and pitched well in his first few spring-training outings. He accompanied the team in its season opening trip to Australia, pitching in one of the exhibition games prior to the official series against the Dodgers. After struggling in his last two spring starts, Bradley was assigned to Triple-A Reno to begin the regular season, a point of contention with his agent, who accused Arizona of holding Bradley back for service time considerations. After five starts with Reno, Bradley was diagnosed with a mild flexor strain in his right elbow and the organization shut him down until June. After rehabbing at the team's training facility and pitching in one Rookie level Arizona League game, Bradley was assigned to Double-A Mobile to get him into a better pitcher's park for the remainder of the season. His fastball velocity was down and curveball not as sharp, which some observers attributed to the early start to his season and the push to make the rotation. Bradley then got in extra work with a post-season assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Bradley's AFL performance was encouraging, with much of his fastball velocity returning. His heater, which during the regular season was 91-93 mph, sat 92-95 and touched 97. The low-80s curveball, previously a plus pitch, lacked depth in part because of a lower arm slot, but showed more break and flashed above-average in the AFL. He used his changeup more frequently while he was learning to pitch without his best fastball and curve, and it's an average pitch in the upper 80s with armside sink. Most importantly, Bradley added an 88-91 mph slider that plays off his fastball, changing the look for hitters facing him. It projects to be an above-average pitch and one that he can use to get swings and misses. Bradley's high three-quarters arm slot gets the ball over his front side and allows him to pound the fastball down in the zone. His command suffers when he's inconsistent with his delivery and his front side flies open, but he projects to be able to repeat the delivery due to his athleticism. Some evaluators now see Bradley as a future No. 3 starter, with the proviso that improved command will get him back to the original projection of a frontline starter. The Diamondbacks will be cautious with Bradley in spring training and, despite the organization's need for starting pitchers, may start him back at Double-A. If all goes well, he'll make his major league debut at some point in 2015.
The Diamondbacks eagerly called Shipley's name when it was time to make the 15th overall pick in 2013, as he'd been rumored to go in the top 10. Primarily a shortstop as a freshman at Nevada, Shipley's arm was too good to keep him off the mound in his next two seasons. After finishing his debut season at low Class A South Bend in 2013, Shipley returned there to start 2014 and pitched at three levels and finished at Double-A Mobile. He ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Midwest League and No. 4 in the California League. Shipley functions as a fifth infielder on the mound thanks to his plus athleticism and shortstop background. His fastball is a plus pitch in the mid-90s with late life and armside sink. His equalizer pitch is a high-80s changeup that he can throw in any count, coming out of the same release point as his fastball and getting early-contact outs for him. His 12-to-6 curveball is a power pitch with bite that dives hard to the bottom of the zone. It improved in 2014, with a cleaner release. Shipley's clean delivery projects to give him plus command. He's a fierce competitor with a strong desire to improve. Shipley projects as at least a No. 3 starter. After getting a brief taste of Double-A at the end of 2014, he'll return there with a promotion to Triple-A Reno at some point in 2015.
Blair was Marshall's highest-drafted player ever after the Diamondbacks popped him 36th overall in 2013. He joined Braden Shipley in low Class A South Bend's playoff rotation at the end of his 2013 pro debut, and they were on the same three-city odyssey in 2014, starting at South Bend and finishing at Double-A Mobile. Blair tied for second in the minors with 171 strikeouts in 2014, ranking as the No. 5 prospect in the California League and No. 11 in the Southern League. Increased arm speed and an improved curveball caused Blair's stock to jump in 2014 with most evaluators now projecting him as more than just a durable, back-of-the rotation innings burner. The heavy life on his 91-95 mph fastball generates weak contact from opposing hitters, and he's touched 97. He ditched his slider and instead improved the power and shape on the high-70s curveball to give him a potential plus pitch that gets swings and misses. He gets on the side of it at times, but it has better power and 11-to-5 shape. Blair has a good feel for an above-average changeup. He has good control, and some scouts project solid-average command thanks to his clean, repeatable delivery and big hands. Blair could begin 2015 at Triple-A Reno and has a good shot at getting a call to the big leagues. He has a No. 3 starter ceiling, though his flyball tendencies may not be best-suited for Chase Field.
Arizona hopes to have solved a power shortage in its everyday lineup by signing Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million contract on Dec. 9. The slugger starred for Industriales in Cuba's Serie Nacional, busting out in the 2011- 12 season when he batted .301/.340/.580 with 16 home runs in 226 plate appearances. He also played in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Plus-plus raw power is the calling card for Tomas, a strong man with big lift in his swing. Tomas does a good job of staying inside the ball and can drive pitches to the opposite field. At times he sells out for power, resulting in a swing with holes and a tendency to chase pitches out of the zone, and he'll swing through offspeed pitches. The combination could result in high strikeout totals. He projects to be an average defender and could handle either outfield corner position, but his plus arm will likely target him for right field. He also has some experience at third base, which the Diamondbacks intend to explore. Tomas is athletic and runs well considering his thick build, recording speeds to first as fast as 4.4 seconds. He will be just 24 on Opening Day and won't have played a competitive game in more than a year, so an initial assignment to Triple-A Reno would probably be beneficial. Tomas more likely will break camp in Arizona's everyday lineup, either in an outfield corner or perhaps at third base.
The Diamondbacks were thrilled to find Toussaint's name on the draft board when their turn came for the 16th overall pick in 2014. They convinced him to forego his commitment to Vanderbilt with a $2.7 million bonus. Toussaint was born in Haiti and lived there until he was 6, and he didn't begin playing baseball until he was 11. While he's less experienced than most high school pitchers in his draft class, he's a showcase veteran who can match the ceiling of any prep arm in the 2014 draft. Toussaint made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League before moving up to Rookie-level Missoula in 2014. With big hands and a long wingspan, he uses explosive arm speed to deliver a fastball in the 90-95 mph range with plus life. He's athletic and the ball comes out of his hand easy. He has a natural ability to spin the ball, thus the jewel of Toussaint's arsenal is a 74-77 mph curveball that projects as a double-plus pitch. He has a good feel for a slightly above-average changeup with tumble that ranges from 79-84 mph with enough potential that it could develop into a third plus pitch. Toussaint struggled with command as a pro in 2014, but he looked more comfortable on the mound in instructional league with more consistency in repeating his high three-quarters delivery. Toussaint may be ready for an assignment to low Class A Kane County in 2015, though he may stay in extended spring training for a while to limit his innings and keep him out of the Midwest League's coldest weather. Touissant has ace potential if he tames his control.
Lamb's breakout season in 2014 shows that the Diamondbacks guessed right when they believed they could iron out his swing coming out of college. They jumped the 2012 sixth-rounder to high Class A Visalia in 2013, a season interrupted by a broken left hamate bone in his wrist, but he made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League. He opened 2014 at Double-A Mobile and finished in the majors, winning the Southern League MVP award along the way after leading the SL in batting (.318) and ranking second in on-base percentage (.399), slugging (.551) and RBIs (79). The improvement in Lamb's bat came when he adjusted his swing to better handle inside pitches, with an approach more suited for hitting for a high average. He has above-average power to all fields, driving the ball even in Mobile's pitcher-friendly park. His long swing can lead to high strikeout totals, but he has a good approach at the plate and draws his share of walks. Lamb is a solid defender at the hot corner with good hands and an aboveaverage arm. He's athletic but is a below-average runner, especially out of the box. His work ethic is strong. Slotted as the top third baseman on the Diamondbacks' depth chart, Lamb will head to spring training as the odds-on favorite to earn a starting job in 2015.
Drury was the youngest among the five players acquired in the January 2013 blockbuster trade that sent outfielder Justin Upton to the Braves, but he may wind up providing Arizona's best return from the deal. The Oregon native was coming off a down 2012 season with the Braves' low Class A affiliate but has boosted his stock with two strong seasons in the Diamondbacks organization. Drury ranked third in the high Class A California League in doubles (35) in 2014 despite being promoted to Double-A Mobile in late July. He generates above-average power with his strength and good bat speed, and supporters believe he has the ingredients to be great hitter. He has a short, compact swing but struggles with good offspeed pitches. Drury is a well below-average runner, but his first-step quickness, good hands and strong, accurate arm project to make him at least an average defender at third base. He got some reps at second base during the Arizona Fall League and may have the tools and work ethic to become an average defender at the keystone. Added to the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster in November, Drury will return to Mobile for more seasoning in 2015, with a move to Triple-A Reno not far off. With Jake Lamb ahead of him on the third-base depth chart, Drury might meet the least resistance at second base.
O'Brien has hit home runs throughout both his amateur and professional careers. He had slugged 33 when the Diamondbacks acquired him from the Yankees in a July 2014 deadline deal for big leaguer Martin Prado. O'Brien fouled a ball off his shin in his fourth game with his new organization and missed the rest of the regular season. He made up for lost time with a return trip to the Arizona Fall League. O'Brien is Arizona's most enigmatic prospect. While he has top-of-the-scale raw power and excellent makeup, scouts aren't sold on his ability to handle quality pitchers, either at the plate or behind it. His strength and good bat speed allow him to hit the ball out to any part of the park, but evaluators point to his long swing and suscepitibility to big velocity and good breaking balls. Behind the plate, he has a strong arm, receives well within his body and has hands that work well, but he needs to improve his blocking ability, lateral mobility and transfer on his throws. While the Yankees tried him at the infield and outfield corners, O'Brien is determined to develop into a good catcher with Arizona. He has put in the work there, reporting early for the AFL to work with catching coordinator Bill Plummer and later with big league bench coach Glenn Sherlock. O'Brien's high baseball IQ gives him a shot to stick behind the plate, but he has a lot of work to do. He'll likely return to Double-A Mobile as the everyday catcher in 2015, and if he can handle the position, he could be a star. If not, he may also top out as a bench bat or future DH.
Garcia (Tigers). Arizona acquired Leyba from the Tigers in December as part of the three-team trade that shipped Didi Gregorius to the Yankees. Leyba, who signed with Detroit in 2012 for $400,000, had opened 2014 at short-season Connecticut. He hit even better once he moved up to low Class A West Michigan for the final month of the 2014 season and Midwest League playoffs, then went to the Arizona Fall League. Leyba doesn't have any dynamic tools, but he's a fundamentally-sound player who grows on scouts the more they see him. He has a quick bat, squares up good velocity and has good barrel control, lacing line drives to all fields. He's not big, but he's strong for his size, though he's mostly a gap hitter. Leyba has solid strikezone management, though he will have to learn to lay off high fastballs. A fringe-average runner who spent most of his time at second base, where he may be best suited, he played shortstop during the final two weeks of the season. His hands and footwork are solid, and his average arm plays up due to a quick release. The Tigers had pushed Leyba aggressively, and he responded to the challenge. Arizona hopes to benefit and could continue pushing him to high Class A Visalia in 2015.
A college teammate of the Astros' George Springer and Red Sox farmhand Matt Barnes, Ahmed was one of five players the Diamondbacks got from the Braves in the 2013 Justin Upton trade. Regarded as one of the top defensive shortstops in the minors, the Connecticut product struggled at the plate in his first season with the Diamondbacks organization in 2013, but took advantage of hitter-happy conditions at Triple-A Reno in 2014. Ahmed made his big league debut as an emergency callup in July and returned in September after Reno's playoff run ended. No one doubts Ahmed's ability to play shortstop at a plus level. He can be a game-changer with the glove, with soft hands, a strong, accurate arm and a quick release. He has a quick first step and makes virtually all the routine plays. He's an above-average runner who can steal a base. His approach at the plate improved in 2014 when he lowered his hands and created a better path to the zone, allowing his swing to make better contact and generate more line-drive pop. He doesn't have much power but can drive balls into the gap. Ahmed profiles best as a light-hitting regular shortstop with Gold Glove-caliber defense. He increased his versatility by showing that he could also handle second base. He'll challenge Chris Owings and Cliff Pennington for the everyday job in Arizona, likely heading back to Reno at least to start the 2015 season.
Only one year after being the centerpiece prospect in the trade that sent Doug Fister from the Tigers to the Nationals, Ray was on the move again, with the Diamondbacks acquiring him from Detroit in a three-team deal centered on Didi Gregorius in December 2014. Ray's stock did not improve in 2014 with an uninspiring season. He got rocked during his major league debut in May, then spent most of the season at Triple-A Toledo before coming back up in August and September. Ray's fastball ranges from the low- to mid-90s, and he touched 97 mph in the AFL. His strikeout rate dropped precipitously in 2014 because he doesn't have an out pitch among his secondary offerings. His changeup is an average pitch that he throws with good arm speed, along with solid sink and tail, but the lack of a reliable breaking ball continues to hamper him. He's thrown a slider and a curveball, though he scrapped the curve toward the end of the season to focus on the slider, which is below-average. Ray is athletic but scouts have questioned his pitching savvy. Without a second plus pitch or better command, Ray profiles as a No. 4 starter, but the Diamondbacks believe he has the potential to be at least a mid-rotation arm. He'll go to spring training with a shot at earning a rotation job but could also spend time on the Triple-A Reno shuttle.
Barrett played both high school and college ball in the Phoenix area, and it's likely he'll complete the trifecta by making it to Chase Field for his big league debut sometime in 2015. An unsigned third-round pick out of high school by the Blue Jays, Barrett instead attended nearby Arizona State, working first as a starter before becoming the Sun Devils closer. The Diamondbacks took him in the third round in 2012, signing him for $392,900. Barrett is a durable, big-bodied strike thrower with a plus fastball that sits 93-96 mph and gets up as high as 98. He works down in the zone, using both sides of the plate, and gets plenty of armside tail on the heater. His slider, which flashes plus, has sharp down tilt with bite. He doesn't often use his changeup, but it gives him a pitch to keep lefthanders from sitting on his fastball. After closing for Triple-A Reno in the second half of 2014, Barrett should get a shot at the big leagues. With an aggressive demeanor and ability to take the ball every day, he's got closer potential.
Originally signed from the Dominican Republic for $55,000 in 2011, Martinez was on the fast track through the Arizona system thanks to an electric arm and plus curveball. After making his full-season debut at low Class A South Bend in 2014, Martinez's progress was derailed after two starts when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right elbow. Prior to the injury, he possessed a quick arm that delivered his fastball up to 99 mph from a smaller frame. Even with the elbow soreness, he was still working at 94-96 mph. He also has a plus curveball, a hard pitch with late bite and tilt. A healthy Martinez should head to low Class A Kane County, the organization's new Midwest League affiliate, though he may start 2015 in extended spring training to keep his innings count down.
The Royals drafted their own Cody Reed--a second-rounder from Northwest Mississippi CC--in 2013. The Diamondbacks' version also hails from the South (Ardmore, Ala.), also is lefthanded and also went in the second round (2014). Reed made a strong debut in 2014, pitching his way to Rookie-level Missoula. He's a big-bodied southpaw who will constantly needs to work on his conditioning. While his high school velocity topped out at 96 mph in the spring before the draft, he worked in the 90-91 range, topping off at 93, at Missoula. Reed projects to have a plus fastball with good angle that he keeps down in the zone. His slider with sharp break also is a quality pitch. His changeup still is a work in progress, but he shows a good feel for it. With advanced pitchability and confidence in his repertoire, Reed could make the jump to low Class A Kane County in 2015. Since he won't turn 19 until June, his more likely assignment will be at short-season Hillsboro. He has the durability to be a mid-rotation starter.
The Diamondbacks' top international signee in 2013, Herrera signed for $1.06 million on July 2. Rather than starting the switch-hitting catcher in the Dominican Summer League, Arizona challenged the 17-year-old in 2014 with an initial assignment to the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he started 75 percent of the team's games. He already has advanced catching skills and polish uncommon for his age. Herrera has good hands, frames well and knows how to call a game, and his above-average to plus arm helped him throw out 34 percent of basestealers. With a good approach at the plate and some feel to hit, he projects to have enough bat to complement his skills behind the plate. He needs to smooth out his swing, but he's a patient hitter with life in the bat and present gap power that should translate to over-the-fence pop as he matures physically. He'll spend his second pro season in 2015 with one of the organization's three short-season affiliates.
One of the most dominant closers in college as an Oregon sophomore and junior, Sherfy's small stature, max-effort delivery and injury history caused him to drop in the 2013 draft, and the Diamondbacks scooped him up for a $100,000 bonus in the 10th round. He dominated hitters in his 11 games at high Class A Visalia to start 2014, striking out 23 of the 44 batters he faced. While he still has a high-maintenance delivery, Sherfy cleaned it up to better stay online. He generates plus velocity from his small frame because of his athleticism and arm speed. His fastball is electric, a 96-97 mph heater that touches 99 with late sink and life. His slider at 82-85 mph is short and tight with a little bit of tilt. While he doesn't use it much, his changeup gives Sherfy an effective third pitch. He'll challenge for a Triple-A Reno roster spot to open 2015 and could pitch his way to Chase Field sooner than later.
The Diamondbacks drafted Banda in the 33rd round out of a Texas high school, but he didn't sign, attending San Jacinto (Texas) JC instead. The Brewers signed him for $125,000 in 2012 as a 10throunder, and the Diamondbacks finally got their man in the July 2014 trade of outfielder Gerardo Parra. Banda profiles as a back-end starter, with intriguing potential and improved control. The loose-armed lefty took a big step forward after the Diamondbacks acquired him, sharpening his strike-throwing considerably after the move. Banda has started to fulfill projections, jumping his fastball up to 94 mph with good movement. He's got an easy delivery and does a good job in keeping his front side closed, so there may be more velocity coming down the line. He's got an at-least-average 79-80 mph curveball with good shape and an average 84-87 mph changeup that flashes better. A 2015 trip to high Class A Visalia in the hitter-friendly California League will be a good test.
Chafin has bounced around the upper levels of the system since signing for $875,000 as the 43rd overall pick in 2011. Projected to move to the bullpen at several points in his career, the Kent State lefty began the 2014 season back in the rotation at Double-A Mobile after pitching there for most of 2013. He proved to be effective in his second go-round with the Bay Bears, earning a promotion to Triple-A Reno and his first big league time in mid-August, when he tossed five scoreless innings at Cleveland, close to his hometown of Wakeman, Ohio. He returned to the majors in September for two more starts. Chafin's velocity has bounced around in pro ball, often settling in the upper 80s with his fastball, but he sat 91-93 in the majors. His strikeout rate has diminished as he's climbed the ladder, though he throws with a funky delivery that provides deception and helps the ball get on hitters quickly. His slider, once a plus pitch, remains effective in the low 80s, and his changeup gives him a third average pitch, if not a tick above. Chafin will go to spring training with the big league team hoping to win a spot in the rotation but will more likely return to Reno.
Ever since signing in 2010, Brito has been more about tools and future projection, but his promising season at high Class A Visalia in 2014 hinted at future production. His plus raw power started to emerge in games, more with doubles to the gap, but the loft he generates in his swing indicates that more balls will leave the park as he gets stronger. He's now a borderline plus runner who has the basestealing instincts to swipe 38 bats in 2014. Brito split time in both right and center field, with scouts remarking that his defense exceeded expectations. His plus arm ranks as the best among outfielders in the system, and he also rates as the organization's most athletic player. The Diamondbacks saw enough to add Brito to the 40-man roster in November. He'll experience his first big league spring training camp in 2015.
Alcantara, the nephew of former big league infielder Anderson Hernandez, signed with Arizona for $700,000 in 2012 just after turning 16, and he has played above his age level in both of his pro seasons. He's already a plus defender at shortstop with a double-plus arm, and he drew raves from opposing managers at Rookie-level Missoula for his defensive play in 2014. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Alcantara displays advanced plate discipline, for he led his league in walks in both of 2013 and 2014. He's still not fully developed physically, especially his upper half, which is reflected in his modest batting average (career .244) and high strikeout rate. A switch-hitter, Alcantara has a decent feel for the barrel, good bat speed and instincts. He projects as a gap-to-gap hitter with occasional power once his body fills out, and is an average runner who could improve with age. Alcantara will still be just 18 in spring training, so he'll probably head to short-season Hillsboro.
To say that 2014 was a challenging year for Trahan is an understatement. The 2012 first-round pickmoved from catcher to right field for his first full-season assignment at low Class A South Bend to help his bat develop more quickly. The change had the opposite effect with the Louisiana native hitting just .198 in 95 games. The Diamondbacks put Trahan back behind the plate in late July and sent him to short-season Hillsboro, where he rebounded a hit, and he helped the Hops win the Northwest League title. Working with hitting coach Mark Grace, Trahan made adjustments to hit from a slightly more closed stance in order to keep his stride length down, as well as moving his hands up slightly. He has plus raw power to all fields, but he can't always get to it in games as he struggles with quality offspeed stuff. Trahan also showed improvement in his catching skills and, most importantly, got his body in better shape. His release and footwork need improvement to take advantage of his strong arm, and he calls a good game, but he needs to stay focused for all nine innings. Trahan needs many more reps behind the plate but should get them now that he's in condition to handle the rigors of everyday catching. He'll get a fresh start in 2015, returning to low Class A with Kane County.
Haniger was one of two players acquired by Arizona in the July 2014 trade that sent Gerardo Parra to the Brewers. Haniger has struggled with injuries since turning pro. A knee injury limiting him to 14 games in 2012, while both hamstring and elbow problems kept him on the sidelines for much of the second half of 2014. After a good 2013 season which included a stint in the Arizona Fall League, Haniger looked like he wasn't far from contributing in the big leagues. Instead, he got off to a slow start at Double-A Huntsville in 2014 before hitting the disabled list. He's a streaky hitter with plus pull-side power who handles lefthanders much better than righties. Haniger's best tool is his plus arm, allowing him to handle either corner-outfield position as an average defender with fringy speed. A half-season of Double-A should get Haniger a promotion to Triple-A Reno in 2015.
Arizona's deal to send catcher Miguel Montero to the Cubs was largely viewed as a salary dump, but the trade netted them an intriguing but raw prospect in Mejia. Presumably old enough to sign in 2012 but ruled ineligible for one year due to issues with his age, Mejia finally inked a contract with the Cubs one year later for $850,000. He made his U.S. debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2014, where he was emerging as one of the Cubs' more intriguing arms, with club officials calling him a lottery ticket. Arizona got a pitcher who is all about arm strength and projection, improving his velocity and pitch location during the season. He's a big-bodied kid who delivers a mid- to high-90s fastball using an overthe- top delivery with downward plane and hard sink. His delivery is fairly clean, but he struggles with command, and his secondary pitches--a slurvy breaking ball and nascent changeup--are not yet ready for prime time. While he has an upside as a starter, Mejia has a long way to go and most likely will open 2015 in extended spring training.
Arizona was rewarded with a pair of competitive balance picks after the second round of the 2014 draft, using both choices on high-potential high school players in Isan Diaz and Wilson. The Diamondbacks signed Wilson for $1 million to keep him from heading to Arizona State. He has a tall, lanky frame with room to add weight and muscle. He's got decent bat speed and has strong wrists that can help the ball jump off his bat, but his swing gets long when he tries to compensate for his weakness. He's at least an average runner with first-step quickness now, and he should get faster with strength and better running techniques. The Diamondbacks see Wilson as a natural center fielder with an average arm and good instincts that help him get good jumps and reads. He'll head to one of Arizona's Rookie-level affiliates in 2015.
Jones was a high school star in New Mexico before heading across country for an Ivy League education at Cornell. It's not surprising that he's a cerebral pitcher with advanced pitchability, with more premium velocity than normally seen from the Ivy League. Arizona grabbed Jones in the fourth round in 2014, signing him for $350,000. After beginning his pro career with eight solid starts at short-season Hillsboro, Jones moved up to low Class A South Bend for the rest of his first season. Sporting a competitive demeanor on the mound, he deals a fastball that sits 88-93 mph and was up as high as 97 in college. He induces lots of groundballs with the sink on his heater. His 79-82 mph curveball that he throws with a spike grip flashes plus at times but lacks consistency. He lacks a feel for his rarely-used 81-84 mph changeup and will need to develop it if he wants to stay in the rotation. It has average potential. Jones could move quickly as a high-floor reliever and may get to high Class A Visalia in 2015.
Borenstein's big breakout year came in 2013 when he led the high Class A California League in batting (.337), home runs (28) and slugging (.631) to win the league's MVP award. This despite missing a month with a hip flexor injury. The Diamondbacks acquired Borenstein in a four-player deal with the Angels in July 2014, and he batted a cumulative .258/.320/.432 with 15 homers for four total clubs. His plus power potential comes from solid bat speed and a good swing. His power is counterbalanced by a low contact rate (24 percent strikeotus in 2014), which will keep his batting average down. He's an average, maxeffort runner who will lose some speed as he matures. As an average defender with a below-average arm, Borenstein fits best in left field, but he could also handle right field in a backup role. Left off the 40-man roster, Borenstein will go as far as his bat takes him, which will be Triple-A Reno in 2015.
The Diamondbacks signed Diaz, who was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in Massachusetts, for a $750,000 bonus as a 2014 supplemental second-rounder. Regarded as a bat-first middle infielder during his high school days, he showed the opposite traits in his debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Diaz played a better-than-expected shortstop but struggled with the bat. He looked better in instructional league, and scouts believe the bat will come around because he has good hands, a good feel for the barrel, and a natural, easy swing. He struggles with offspeed stuff but has a strong lower half and projects to have average power if it all clicks. He's a fringe-average runner who won't steal a lot of bases, especially as he grows bigger. While he spent more time at shortstop in Rookie ball, Diaz's future is at second base. He could be an above-average defender there as well as being able to handle shortstop in a utility role. He'll likely move to Rookie-level Missoula in 2015.
Railey teamed with Cubs draft pick Carson Sands at North Florida Christian High in Tallahassee, Fla., with both players choosing pro ball in 2014 over their Florida State commitments. The Diamondbacks picked Railey in the third round, signing him for $600,000. A torn hamstring ended his first pro season after just 13 games at Rookie-level Missoula. He returned in time to get action in instructional league but was primarily limited to a DH role and scouts didn't really get a good look at him. Railey is more of a line-drive hitter with a quick, short-to-the-ball swing, but with above-average raw power he projects to be able to drive balls over the fence. Railey doesn't have the instincts for center field and his below-average arm may keep him out of right field, so his bat will have to play for him to be a regular. He's expected to be back to full speed by spring training before reporting to one of Arizona's three short-season affiliates.
Burgos has often teased as an intriguing arm with little command and limited pitchability. He figured it out in 2014 with a strong season in the high Class A Visalia bullpen, earning a spot on the 40-man roster. The key for Burgos' improvement was a bump in velocity, with a fastball now up to a lively 99 mph, and enough control to get by. He struck out a career-best 13.7 per nine innings and matched his best walk rate (4.3 per nine) in 2014. The big-bodied Burgos delivers his pitches with a live, loose arm, with a max-effort delivery that he doesn't always repeat. He also throws a plus slider in the mid-80s that gives him a pitch to complement the heater. Burgos profiles as a seventh-inning reliever and is still a bit of a wild card, but he just turned 24 and will move up to Double-A Mobile in 2015.
Palka led the Atlantic Coast Conference in home runs at Georgia Tech in 2013, prompting the Diamondbacks to pop him in the third round and sign him for $550,000. He made his full-season debut in 2014 and tied for the low Class A Midwest League home run lead despite a broken hamate bone ending his season in mid-August. He's got legit raw power generated by strong hands, but holes in the inner half and lack of ideal bat speed concern many scouts. Palka handles southpaws just as well as righthanders, posting an identical .798 OPS against both sides in 2014. He swings and misses frequently, which he'll need to address as he moves higher in the system, but he draws his fair share of walks. Palka will be ready to move to the friendly hitting environs of the high Class A California League in 2015.
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