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Diamondbacks rank in bottom third of ESPN’s MLB future power rankings

(Arizona Sports Photo)

The Arizona Diamondbacks took a step in the right direction last season, winning 93 games and making the postseason for the first time in five seasons.

Despite the strong showing in 2017, ESPN’s Buster Olney and Dan Szymborski ranked the D-backs 21st overall in their MLB future power rankings.

Olney and Szymborski compiled the rankings for each team based on four categories, each weighted differently to account for a total score out of 30 points.

The current talent (25 percent), future talent (45 percent), financial support (20 percent), and front office and ownership (10 percent) of each team was analyzed. The two used the 2018 farm system rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law to evaluate the future talent.

Out of 30 teams, the D-backs ranked ninth for the current strength of the roster, 25th for the future strength, 18th for financial support and 17th for their front office. When taking the weighted percentage into account, the D-backs final tally placed them at 21.

Olney credited the D-backs performance last season to the improved performance from the pitching staff as well as the July trade for outfielder J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers.

Martinez’s 29 home runs as a Diamondback complemented the impressive performance from other D-backs’ sluggers, who accounted for 220 total homers as a team.

But, with Martinez in Boston and both Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock joining pitcher Patrick Corbin in free agency in the next two years, Olney believes the D-backs and general manager Mike Hazen have a challenging road ahead.

Hazen will have to figure out a way to make the budget numbers work, improve the farm system and contend all at the same time Goldschmidt’s situation is not unlike that of Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates — he is a legacy player, and it’s not unreasonable for him to expect big dollars as a free agent.

But the Diamondbacks have to decide what level of investment they will be make for a player who will be 32 when he gets closer to free-agency eligibility.

Szymborski highlighted the dilemma surrounding the D-backs moving forward, noting the Martinez trade and performance from the pitching staff as a major factor in Arizona’s success last season.

To account for the loss of Martinez, Hazen acquired outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from Tampa Bay as part of a three-team deal in February.

The 28-year-old hit 30 home runs and 78 RBI in 2017, posting .239/.351/.459.

Szymborski praised Arizona for acquiring Souza, calling him an “upgrade” over outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who only played in 47 games last season due to a core injury.

However, he notes that the D-backs’ lineup “only rates in the league’s top third at first base and center field.”

Despite Szymborski’s prediction of the D-backs’ pitching staff not having the same success each season, right-hander Jon Duplantier should give fans hope for the future.

Ranked No. 64 on Law’s list of prospects, Duplantier has a chance to make an impact in Arizona’s starting rotation.

“(Duplantier) has shown the assortment of pitches and control to offer a pretty high floor as a starter — as long as he stays healthy — with a chance for a No. 3 starter,” Law wrote.

The Rice product was drafted by Arizona in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft and was the highest-rated D-backs prospect on Law’s list.

The 23-year old was a force in the high-A Cal League in 2017. Right-handed batters hit .184/.235/.255 against Duplantier all year.

The right-hander battled a shoulder injury his sophomore season, causing concern from Law about his durability.

The D-backs’ ranking in Olney and Szymborski’s list was the fourth-highest among other members of the NL West.

The San Francisco Giants ranked one spot behind Arizona at 22, with the Colorado Rockies (16), the San Diego Padres (11) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2) finishing ahead of Arizona in future rankings.

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