Trades have bled the Diamondbacks’ farm system of talent but Arizona still has a few of its top-end prospects on the mound.
ESPN’s Keith Law, who ranked the D-backs’ farm system 24th in the majors, released his top-100 list of prospects heading into 2016 spring training. Arizona pitcher Braden Shipley came in 24th while teammate Archie Bradley ranked 84th.
Shipley came in 19th on Law’s list last year and following a mid-year tweak in his mechanics recorded a 2.66 ERA after the Southern League All-Star break.
Shipley is an outstanding athlete and former infielder whose delivery is now very smooth and easy to repeat, so throwing strikes won’t be a problem. It’s just a matter of staying on top of that fastball and keeping it out of the upper half of the strike zone. If he does that, as he did in the second half of 2015, he can be a No. 2 starter in the big leagues.
Bradley fought his way onto the opening day roster in 2015 with a late spring training push and found success as a starter before he was struck in the face by a comebacker. After that, Bradley strugged with consistency and then a shoulder injury.
At this point, given Bradley’s struggles with arm health and command, I’d like to see him get some time working out of the bullpen, where he can focus on regaining that big fastball and hammer curveball without worrying about going through an order three times. A year of health and success in a reduced role would set him up for a potential return to the rotation in 2017.
Among players who were with the D-backs last year, Law ranks Atlanta Braves pitcher Aaron Blair 39th after being traded from Arizona in the Shelby Miller deal this offseason.
Pitcher Touki Toussaint, the former first-round pick of the D-backs, comes in 80th after being dealt to Atlanta during the 2015 season in a salary dump of veteran Bronson Arroyo’s contract.