ESPN Insider: D-backs have the worst farm system in baseball
The Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes are both currently at or near the bottom of the standings in their respective sports.
The reasons are many, but youth is a big one. Both teams’ rosters are stocked with so much young talent, that if developed correctly, could contribute to team success in the future.
Their baseball brethren, the Arizona Diamondbacks, can’t make the same claim, at least according to one ESPN expert.
In an Insider piece, Keith Law has rated the minor league systems of all 30 Major League Baseball teams, and he’s got the D-backs ranked dead last.
Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled a solid farm system in just two years at the helm of the Diamondbacks. Stewart has better things to do now, and the challenge for new GM Mike Hazen & Co. is substantial. Arizona did not draft well under Stewart. The best player they took in those two drafts is now the starting shortstop in Atlanta, and I don’t think anyone else from either class would make my global top 150 prospects list.
They blew their international signing budget in 2015 on Yoan Lopez, now a non-prospect, and that precluded them from participating in any meaningful way in the strong 2016 international class. They traded two top 100 prospects plus a third who didn’t miss the top 100 by much in moves that made the club worse off in the long run. This system is several drafts away from getting back into the middle of the pack, and unless they’re willing to trade their superstar first baseman, I don’t think they have a shortcut available.
Law points to the trade Stewart engineered with the Braves that sent former top overall pick Dansby Swanson and pitching prospect Aaron Blair to Atlanta in exchange for starting right-hander Shelby Miller. Even if Miller had pitched to his potential in 2016, the trade would have been panned. He didn’t and the deal is now viewed as a disaster for the Arizona minor-league system.
In fact, Baseball America had Swanson and Blair rated as the organization’s top two prospects during the 2015 offseason prior to the trade going down.
Stewart also dealt infielder Isan Diaz, who was highly thought of by scouts, to the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2016 season in a trade that netted second baseman Jean Segura from the Brewers. Segura has since been traded by Hazen to the Seattle Mariners for a package featuring right-hander Taijuan Walker.
Diaz put up a line of .264/.358/.469 with 20 home runs and 75 RBI at Single-A Wisconsin. He was also named Milwaukee’s Minor League Player of the Year and is rated as the Brewers’ fifth-best prospect heading into 2017.
The consensus seems to be that left-hander Anthony Banda is the best D-backs prospect. Acquired in a 2014 trade with the Brewers, Banda posted a 10-6 record in 2016 in stops at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. He tied a minor-league career-high with 152 strikeouts in 150 innings and had a combined 2.88 ERA. The 23-year-old represented the D-backs at last summer’s Futures Game in San Diego, taking the loss for Team USA after giving up two runs in two-thirds of an inning.