Evaluators rank D-backs farm system among top in majors

Feb 6, 2023, 8:01 AM
A view of the draft board and stage after the selection of Druw Jones as the second pick overall du...
A view of the draft board and stage after the selection of Druw Jones as the second pick overall during the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft at L.A. Live on Sunday, July 17, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been prevalent on top prospects lists, and their farm system was ranked near the top of the major leagues by The Athletic’s Keith Law and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

Law placed the D-backs No. 4 and McDaniel ranked them No. 2, as Arizona’s ability to build out a prospect pool continues to receive praise.

Law’s reasoning was simple: He sees a lot out of his top six ranked D-backs prospects.

That list include outfielder Corbin Carroll (No. 1), shortstop Jordan Lawlar (No. 9), outfielder Druw Jones (No. 15), RHP Brandon Pfaadt (No. 38), RHP Ryne Nelson (No. 82) and LHP Blake Walston.

Carroll and Nelson made their MLB debut last season with strong outcomes, as the former racked up 1.2 WAR in 32 games and the latter allowed only three runs in 18.1 innings.

Three guys in the top 15 will do a lot to boost your farm system, and they have two starters who are major-league ready and probably end up in the top 3 spots in a big-league rotation, which I think makes them the most top-heavy farm system in the majors right now — meaning that a huge percentage of the prospect value here is tied up in those five guys, with another who was on the just-missed-the-just-missed list, so to speak.

Law did not count catcher Gabriel Moreno, a player the D-backs added via a trade with the Blue Jays this offseason that sent outfielder Daulton Varsho to Toronto.

Moreno is not a rookie by MLB’s eligibility standards, but he only played 25 games last season.

McDaniel did count Moreno in his evaluation, whom he ranked as the No. 4 prospect in baseball.

He had Carroll (No. 2), Moreno and Lawlar (No. 8) in his top 10.

A winter trade for just-barely-eligible-for-this-list catcher Gabriel Moreno pushed the top of the Diamondbacks’ system to being one of the best in recent memory: three prospects in the top 10 of my top 100, four in the top 21, and five in the top 32. Like Baltimore, a wave of standout talent is in the upper minors or has already matriculated to the big leagues. Druw Jones, the No. 2 overall pick in last summer’s MLB draft, is the lone top prospect who isn’t on the verge of reaching the majors. Corbin Carroll will be a favorite in the 2023 National League Rookie of the Year race, but Arizona will also have Moreno — along with righties Brandon Pfaadt, Drey Jameson and Ryne Nelson — in the mix.

Carroll is most likely of the group to make an impact off the bat as a starting outfielder, be it in center field or a corner next to Alek Thomas.

Moreno and vet Carson Kelly are shaping up to be Arizona’s catching options on Opening Day.

And the D-backs have decisions to make regarding the back end of the rotation and whether or not they could go to a six-man unit, which general manager Mike Hazen has said this offseason is a possibility.

Nelson and Jameson each got a taste of the bigs while Pfaadt reached Triple-A last season.

Carroll, Nelson, Moreno and Jameson are on the 40-man roster, while Lawlar, Pfaadt and Walston are non-roster invitees for big-league camp at spring training.

Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15 with full squad workouts on Feb. 20.

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Evaluators rank D-backs farm system among top in majors