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ESPN: D-backs’ farm still shallow but gaining respect heading into 2017 MLB Draft

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen smiles as he talks with reporters during baseball's annual general managers meeting Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It appeared first-year Diamondbacks executive vice president and general manager Mike Hazen inherited a fairly bare cupboard.

The previous front office led by Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart had especially gutted the elite prospects through trades both to find salary relief and to acquire proven vets.

Take, for example, pitcher Touki Toussaint. The top pick from the 2014 MLB Draft was included in a trade to rid Arizona of Bronson Arroyo’s contract two years ago. The next first-round pick, No. 1 overall selection Dansby Swanson, didn’t last in the farm system a year before being included in the trade with the Braves that put pitcher Shelby Miller in a D-backs uniform.

When injuries hit a season ago, especially in the outfield, there weren’t many young options to fill in, only putting the lack of organizational depth in the limelight.

As bad as it seemed, Hazen spoke positively of the talent on the farm since the day of his introduction, and it’s begun to show as the 2017 MLB Draft nears.

Eric Longenhagen, special to ESPN, writes that there’s more talent than meets the eye in the Diamondbacks’ system.

System strength: Arizona entered the offseason with one of the most ill-perceived farm systems in baseball, but some prospects — RHP Jon Duplantier and OF Marcus Wilson in particular — are having breakout seasons and improving the way the entire organization looks.

For the Single-A Kane County Cougars, Duplantier, a 22-year-old third-round pick from last year’s draft, is 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA through 11 starts this season. That includes seven earned runs over 66.2 innings pitched.

The 20-year old Wilson, who is in his fourth minor-league season, is batting .297 with seven homers and 30 RBI through 46 games.

At the higher levels of the farm system, 27-year-old Zack Godley may have limited upside as a prospect but has spelled the D-backs since Miller’s season-ending injury. Twenty-six-year-old Rey Fuentes has provided outfield depth since A.J. Pollock went down, and the trade of Jean Segura to Seattle saw shortstop Ketel Marte relegated to Triple-A.

Marte is batting .371 with 33 RBI in 57 games so far this season but finds himself stuck in Reno because of the platoon of Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed at the major league level.

Simply put, the D-backs aren’t in as an alarming position as many believed when Hazen took on the job, though beginning with the team’s seventh overall pick on Monday, he will be challenged to fix those depth concerns.

System weakness: The system remains incredibly shallow with only a handful of prospects likely to make a big-league impact, and most of them are far from doing so.

Possible fits: CF Adam Haseley (Virginia), high school SS Royce Lewis, LHP David Peterson (Oregon).

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