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Arizona Diamondbacks 2015 Organizational Farm Report

The Arizona Diamondbacks might not have a shot at the postseason anymore, but things are going well down on the farm.

In fact, their farm system is doing better than almost every other organization in baseball.

The D-backs ranked second on a list that Baseball America’s Matt Eddy put together that ranked each organization by win percentage.

As a whole, the seven domestic Arizona affiliates posted a record of 420 wins and 345 losses for a win percentage of .549 in 2015.

Here’s a look at how the seven affiliates fared in 2015:

AZL D-backs (Rookie)
AZL Dbacks logo
Arizona League
Record: 25-30
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Finish: 3rd in East Division of Arizona League

One of the Diamondbacks’ two domestic rookie league teams, the AZL D-backs finished the season with a record of 25-30, not qualifying for the playoffs. Among the most notable performers were two young right-handed pitchers.

Luis Madero, the 18-year-old Venezuelan right-hander posted an ERA of 2.30 through 54.2 innings pitched, the lowest ERA in the league among qualifiers. Madero (5-5) struck out 46 and allowed 14 walks in his 13 appearances.

Emilio Vargas also finished the season with one of the five best ERAs in the league. He posted an ERA of 2.53 through 53.1 innings where he struck out 49 and walked 13.

 

Missoula Osprey logo

Missoula Osprey (Rookie)
Pioneer League
Record: 42-33
Playoffs: Yes
Finish: Pioneer League Champions

The Missoula Osprey started the season out with an impressive 23-14 record to clinch a spot in the playoffs as the first-half division winner. But the momentum didn’t stop there. With a record of 42-33, the Osprey finished the regular season atop the Pioneer League North.

Missoula defeated the Billings Mustangs to advance to the Pioneer League Championship series against the Idaho Falls Chukars, where they won their fourth Pioneer League Championship.

A trio of Missoula’s Pioneer League All Stars highlighted the Osprey Roster in 2015:

Austin Byler, an 11th round pick in 2015 out of Nevada,  led the league in both home runs (15) and walks (50). The first baseman also ranked second in RBI (57), total bases (145) and slugging percentage (.636) and ranked in the top five in doubles (22), on-base percentage (.422) and on-base plus slugging (1.058).

Isan Diaz, drafted out of high school in 2014 in the competitive balance round B (following the second round), the 19-year-old shortstop had a breakout 2015 season. Diaz led the Pioneer league in doubles (25), total bases (174), slugging percentage (.640) and on-base plus slugging (1.076). He also ranked in the top five in nearly every offensive category including runs scored (58), hits (98), home runs (13), RBI (51), on-base percentage (.436) and average (.360).

Dan Savas, a 19th round pick in 2014 out of Illinois State, ranked second in the Pioneer League in saves with 14. The right-handed pitcher didn’t allow a home run or hit a batter in 2015, finishing the season with 24 strikeouts, 5 walks and an ERA of 2.49.

MLB Pipeline Top 30 Diamondbacks Prospects
#13 Marcus Wilson, OF

 

Hillsboro Hops (Class A Short Season)Hillsboro Hops Logo
Northwest League
Record: 45-31
Playoffs: Yes
Finish: Northwest League Champions

The Hops finished off the season in extraordinary fashion, defeating the Tri-City Dust Devils in a decisive game three to clinch their second consecutive Northwest League Championship. Hillsboro finished the season with the best team ERA in the league (3.27) thanks in part to the contributions of these right-handers.

Carlos Hernandez (6-3) had the best ERA (of qualifiers) in the Northwest League at 2.32 as well as the best WHIP (1.00). The Northwest League All-Star also led the league with 93 strikeouts while walking 27 in 85.1 innings.

Brody Greer, signed by the Diamondbacks as a non-drafted free agent in 2013, produced the way an organization could only hope its top draft picks would in his first season beyond rookie ball. In 24 appearances, Greer had a WHIP of 0.86 and an even lower ERA of 0.83. In his 32.2 innings, he struck out 51 while walking just 14 batters.

Hillsboro was a stage for Arizona’s 2015 draft picks with some of the Diamondbacks most recent selections beginning their professional careers with stellar campaigns:

Dansby Swanson, the highly touted first-overall pick out of Vanderbilt began his professional career with a .289 average in his first 83 at bats. Of his 24 hits, 11 were for extra bases with 7 doubles, 3 triples and a home run. Swanson ended the season with an on-base percentage of .394 and slugging percentage of .482.

Taylor Clarke, a third round selection out of the College of Charleston, was nearly flawless in his debut season. The right-hander posted a perfect 0.00 ERA through his first 21.0 innings of professional baseball, allowing just eight hits and walking four while striking out 27.

MLB Pipeline Top 30 Diamondbacks Prospects
#1 Dansby Swanson, SS; #6 Alex Young, LHP; #11 Cody Reed, LHP; #19 Sergio Alcantara, SS; #20 Jeferson Mejia, RHP; #25 Taylor Clarke, RHP

 

Kane County Cougars (Class A)Kane County Cougars Logo
Midwest League
Record: 84-54
Playoffs: Yes
Finish: Midwest League Division Quarterfinals

After an impressive regular season, the Cougars saw their season end in the division quarterfinals of the Midwest League playoffs after falling to the Peoria Chiefs 3-2. Kane County had a league-best 48-22 record (.686) in the second-half of the season to clinch the Western Division.

Composure at the plate was a notable trait of the 2015 Cougars. They finished the season with the least strikeouts of any Midwest League team. Kane County also finished atop the league in batting average, thanks to four of the best batting averages in the league belonging to Kane County hitters:

Marty Herum is another NDFA that the Diamondbacks are seeing a lot of productivity from. Signed by Arizona out of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2013, Herum has been a mid-season All-Star the last two seasons, but his 2015 season has been his best yet. The third baseman led the Midwest League in hits (155) and ranked in the top ten in average (.303), RBI (79) and total bases (211).

Ildemaro Vargas was signed by Arizona in May after being released by the St. Louis Cardinals. Signing Vargas has already paid dividends for the Diamondbacks organization. Vargas led the Midwest league in average in 2015 (.321), ranked second in on-base percentage (.385) and finished third in on-base plus slugging (.890).

Colin Bray, a sixth round selection in 2013, seemed to be near the top of the Midwest League in nearly every statistical category in 2015. Bray ranked fourth in average (.308), third in runs scored (78), second in hits (151), third in triples (8) and sixth in on-base percentage (.370). Add in over 200 total bases and 27 stolen bases and it’s not difficult to decipher why the outfielder was a 2015 All-Star.

Victor Reyes was previously a prospect in the Braves organization before being traded to the Diamondbacks in April of this year. The outfielder had the third best batting average (.311) in the Midwest League in his debut season with the organization along with 17 doubles, 59 RBI and 13 stolen bases over 121 games.

The Kane County pitching staff didn’t lack talent either, featuring the Midwest League saves leader and a starting pitcher with one of the lowest qualifying ERA’s in the league:

Brad Keller, an 8th round selection in 2013, had a successful campaign in his first full season out of rookie ball. The 20-year old right-handed pitcher had the third lowest qualifying ERA in the league (2.60) as well as one of the best WHIPs (1.16). Keller struck out 109 batters in his 142 innings pitched allowing just three home runs and walking 37.

Zac Curtis, a 6th round pick in 2014, continued to have a successful minor league career in 2015, leading the Midwest league in saves with 33. Curtis had the second-most appearances in the league (53), totaling 54.0 innings pitched. The south paw posted an ERA of 1.33 and a WHIP of 0.83, striking out 75 while allowing just 2 home runs on the season and walking 12.

MLB Pipeline Top 30 Diamondbacks Prospects
#10 Wei-Chieh Huang, RHP; #16 Stryker Trahan, C; #17 Dawel Lugo, SS; #23 Victor Reyes, OF; #24 Ryan Burr, RHP; #27 Jose Martinez, RHP; #30 Colin Bray, OF

 

Visalia Rawhide (Class A Advanced)Visalia rawhide logo
California League
Record: 84-56
Playoffs: Yes
Finish: California League Semifinals

Visalia advanced to the postseason after finishing the 2015 regular season with the best record in the California League. Thanks to being the first-half champion, they received a buy in the first round of the playoffs. The Rawhide got an early two-game lead over the San Jose Giants one in the best-of-five divisional finals, but were ultimately eliminated by San Jose in heart-breaking fashion after falling to the Giants in the last inning of three-consecutive one-run games.

Despite a bittersweet ending, Visalia was home to some of the organization’s top prospects and some of the league’s top performers:

Daniel Palka, a third round pick out of Georgia Tech in 2013, was one of Visalia’s top performers in 2015. Palka led the league in total bases (272), ranked third in doubles (36) and fourth in home runs (29) over 129 games. The outfielder also tallied 24 stolen bases and was the fourth-most walked player in the California League (56). Each organization is allowed to send one player below Double-A to the Arizona Fall League and the Diamondbacks chose Palka.

Jamie Westbrook, an Arizona native taken in the fifth round of 2013, had a breakout season with the Rawhide in 2015. The second baseman had the fourth best average in the league (.322) and was a post-season All-Star for Visalia. Westbrook ended the season with 245 total bases including 33 doubles, 4 triples and 17 home runs.

Nickolas Sarianides was signed by Arizona as a free agent in 2014 after being released by the Cleveland Indians in 2012. Fast forward a year and Sarianides led the Cal League in saves with 28 and represented Visalia as a mid-season All-Star. Through his 55.1 innngs pitched, Sarianides struck out an astounding 91 batters while walking 16. He ended the season with an ERA of 2.11 and a WHIP of 0.96.

Anthony Banda, a left-handed pitcher acquired from the Brewers in 2014 as part of the Gerardo Parra trade, impressed in his first full season in the Diamondbacks organization. Banda led the California League with 152 strikeouts over 151.2 innings where he walked 39. Banda finished the season with a record of 8-8 and an ERA of 3.32.

MLB Pipeline Top 30 Diamondbacks Prospects
#8 Domingo Leyba, 2B/SS; #22 Anthony Banda, LHP; #28 Mitch Haniger, OF; #29 Daniel Palka, 1B

 

Mobile BayBears (Double A)mobile baybears logo
Southern League
Record: 70-67
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Finish: 2nd in South Division of Southern League

Although the BayBears finished above .500 at 70-67, they failed to qualify for the postseason in the ultra-competitive Southern League. Not including September call-ups, Mobile featured seven players that rank in the Top-30 on MLB’s Pipeline list of top prospects in the organization.

Before being called up by Arizona, Socrates Brito led the Southern League in triples with 15 and ranked in the top 10 in runs (70), hits (147), total bases (221), stolen bases (20), slugging percentage (.451) and batting average (.300). But Brito wasn’t the only BayBear to put up impressive numbers in 2015:

Zach Borenstein, acquired by Arizona from the Angels in July 2014, was the Southern League player of the month a year later with Mobile as well as a mid-season All-Star. Borenstein spent time with both Mobile and Reno in 2015 with the majority of his time being spent with the Bay Bears. In 85 games with Mobile, Borenstein posted an average of .314 with 15 doubles, 5 triples and 10 home runs.

Braden Shipley, a first round pick in 2013, is one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The right-handed pitcher appeared in 28 games for the Bay Bears, posting an ERA of 3.50. Shipley struck out 118 and walked 56 over 156.2 innings, ending the season with a record of 9-11.

Daniel Gibson, a seventh round pick out of the University of Florida in 2013, split his time between Visalia and Mobile in 2015. In 53 appearances between the two teams, Gibson posted an ERA of 1.56 through 52.0 innings where he struck out 58 and walked 21. Gibson was chosen by the Diamondbacks to participate in the Arizona Fall League in 2015.

Adam Miller, a 20th round selection out of BYU in 2013, is another Mobile pitcher who will be joining Gibson as one of the Diamondbacks prospects sent to the Arizona Fall League. The right-hander made 50 appearances in relief for the BayBears in 2015. Miller struck out 63 over 56.1 innings while walking 28, ending the season with an ERA of 2.88.

#4 Braden Shipley, RHP; #5  Yoan Lopez, RHP; #12 Jack Reinheimer, SS/2B; #14 Gabby Guerrero, OF; #18 Jake Barrett, RHP; #21 Jimmie Sherfy, RHP; #26 Adam Miller, RHP

 

Reno Aces (Triple A)Reno Aces logo
Pacific Coast League
Record: 70-74
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Finish: 3rd in Pacific North Division of Pacific Coast League

Finishing the season with a record of 70-74, the Aces didn’t advance to the postseason, but there’s a lot to be excited about for Reno’s season. The Aces led the Pacific Coast League in batting with a team average of .286. They also led the league in doubles (339), total bases (2250) and slugging percentage (.453).

 

Jamie Romak, a fourth round pick by Atlanta in 2003,  ranked third in RBI (100), second in total bases (267) and fifth in slugging percentage (.551). Romak was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, earning both mid-season and post-season honors with the Aces.

Peter O’Brien, a second round pick by the Yankees in 2013, was chosen as the Diamondbacks 2015 hitting prospect of the year by MLB Pipeline. Before he made his professional debut on Sept. 11, O’Brien was busy leading the Pacific Coast League in total bases (270) and RBI (107). He finished the year ranked second in triples (9), seventh in doubles (35) and second in home runs (26).

Aaron Blair, a 2013 selection in the Competitive Balance A round,  is O’Brien’s counterpart as the Diamondbacks 2015 pitching prospect of the year by MLB Pipeline. Blair was a mid-season All-Star for the Aces in 2015 after spending time with both Reno and Mobile. He finished the season with a record of 13-5 along with an impressive 2.92 ERA through 160.1 innings after striking out 120 and walking just 50.

MLB Pipeline Top 30 Diamondbacks Prospects
#2 Archie Bradley, RHP; #3 Aaron Blair, RHP

 

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