ESPN’s Law: D-backs have MLB’s 24th-best farm system

Feb 10, 2016, 3:35 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley (25) throws in the first inning during a baseball game ...
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley (25) throws in the first inning during a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Diamondbacks have made a considerable amount of high-profile moves this offseason in an effort to improve a team that won 79 games last season.

By most accounts, the additions of Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Jean Segura and Tyler Clippard have made the team better, though whether or not the D-backs are ready to contend for the NL West crown and possibly a World Series is certainly a matter of debate.

The team’s proactive approach over the last handful of months led to a belief that the plan was to go all in on the 2016 season, with a bit of a “now or never” kind of mentality.

That claim, however, was disputed by D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, who told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday that the organization has not been solely focused on this season or the next.

“Our plan is like five to six years, not two to three,” he said.

La Russa pointed to some of the younger players on the roster as well as talent that has been infused into the farm system as reason to believe that the team can remain competitive in the future, saying some of the players who are in the lower levels of the minor leagues will be key contributors a few years down the line.

Yet, according to ESPN MLB analyst Keith Law, that is certainly not a sure thing.

In an Insider piece ranking all 30 MLB farm systems heading into the 2016 season, Law has the D-backs at No. 24.

2015 rank: 14
Players in Top 100 (2016): 2

Two good pitching prospects, one or two decent hitting prospects, then a big drop-off, which is what happens when you keep sending away your top draft picks in trades. They took some middling college arms last year who could surprise this year and establish themselves as top-five prospects in the system … or look like busted picks by next winter.

According to MLB.com, the Diamondbacks’ top two prospects are pitchers Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley. They are followed by pitchers Yoan Lopez and Alex Young. Infielders Brandon Drury and Domingo Leyba, along with outfielder Peter O’Brien, pitcher Wei-Chieh Huang, Cody Reed and Tyler Wagner round out the top 10.

Last November, Baseball America had shortstop Dansby Swanson as Arizona’s top prospect. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft, he barely got his feet wet in the organization’s farm system before he was dealt to Atlanta to acquire Miller.

That trade, at least in part, led to the Braves having the top-ranked farm system according to Law, who wrote:

This system was among the bottom five just two years ago after years of bad drafts and questionable player development, but a series of trades — including several fleecings of the Diamondbacks — has stocked the system with pitching depth that is the envy of the industry.

As it is with any prospect, there is no guarantee any will pan out. So, in terms of rankings and impact, we’ll all just have to wait and see.

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ESPN’s Law: D-backs have MLB’s 24th-best farm system