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D-backs rank 5th in The Athletic’s 2021 farm system rankings

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 14, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

Not too long ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks struggled to put together an impressive farm system.

But ever since general manager Mike Hazen walked through the door in 2016, it’s been rebuilt bigger and better.

So much so that The Athletic’s Keith Law has the D-backs farm system as the fifth-best across the MLB heading into the new season.

The Diamondbacks endured one of the worst GM tenures of the century, which resulted in a badly depleted farm system, less-than-productive drafts and a fiasco on the international free agent market because the GM didn’t understand the bonus rules, but current GM Mike Hazen turned things around in a hurry. Some extra picks in the draft helped, as did a few solid trades and heavier investment in the international market, as well as the establishment under Hazen of the club’s first proper R&D department.

Highlighting the team’s farm system are outfielders Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas, who Law pegged at 23rd and 61st, respectively, in his MLB prospects ranking.

In 11 games (43 at-bats) with the Short-A Hillsboro Hops in 2019, Carroll posted 14 hits, six RBIs and 13 runs scored. He finished the season with a .326 batting average and .408 OBP.

Playing 23 games with the Single-A Visalia Rawhide in 2019, Thomas averaged .255 to go along with 24 hits, seven RBIs and two home runs. He also scored 13 runs and posted an .829 OPS.

They’ve also gone after players they felt were undervalued in the draft — Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas, both relatively undersized high school outfielders, both look like steals relative to where they were selected — and are developing players better than they have in franchise history.

The duo was also included in Baseball America’s top-100 MLB prospects on Jan. 18. Carroll landed at No. 42, while Thomas came in at No. 94.

Looking at the rest of the NL West, the San Diego Padres slide behind the D-backs at No. 7. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers were next at Nos. 9 and 10, followed by the Colorado Rockies at No. 21.

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