15) Carlos Hernandez – RHP
Date of Birth: April 26, 1994
Height/Weight: 5’11”/170 lbs.
Acquired: Signed minor league deal as a free agent
The sneaky prospect on this list is Carlos Hernandez. He pitched the 2015 season for The Hillsboro Hops, so I got to keep a close eye on his progression, and there was significant progression. Not only did he pitch 6+ innings in Game 3 of the NWL Championship game, but he was also named NWL Pitcher of the Year. In 85.1 innings, he posted a 2.32 ERA, .996 WHIP and 93 strikeouts, which translates to a 9.8 strikeout per nine ratio.
Hernandez’s arensal consist of a fastball that sits around 90-92 mph, but has plus movement. He has great feel for his curveball, which has the potential to be a Major League strikeout pitch. His changeup is another plus offering that he mixes in, especially against left handed hitters. All of his pitches play up, because is actually pitching rather than just throwing, which shows he understands what it takes to continue pitching at higher levels.
The concern with Hernandez is his size and where he would be able to be sustainable in a Major League rotation. That remains to be seen but his delivery is pretty effortless and repeatable, which points to being able to stay in a rotation. Hernandez’s three plus offerings coupled with his pitching knowledge give him an edge in remaining a starting pitcher, but he will need to build up strength to become a future 200 inning starter. Hernandez is a prospect to watch in 2016.
I had the pleasure to see Gabby Guerrero in The 2015 Arizona Fall League and he it is mind-boggling how much he resembles his uncle Vlad. Unfortunately for Gabby, he will have the comparison of his uncle to live up to his whole career, and that may be difficult to do. In 2015, he had a poor season in AA, posting only seven home runs in 126 games. His carrying tool is his plus raw power, but he continues to struggle with his approach at the plate. He has that “swing at everything” mentality his famous uncle possessed, as he has only walked 116 times in over 2,000 minor league games.
He does possess a very strong arm and is a solid runner, which profile well in right field, but it all boils down to if he can hit. If he can find a consistent approach and develop some discipline, he might be able to cut down his strikeout rate of 22%. At this point, the bloodlines and raw power will keep him around the top prospects in the system, but he has some serious work to do to be projectable as an everyday Major League contributor.
13) Cody Reed – LHP
Date of Birth: June 7, 1996
Height/Weight: 6’3”/245 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted 2nd round in 2014
Cody Reed is another Dbacks’ prospect that pitched for The Hillsboro Hops in 2015. He is the definition of a big durable pitcher who throws from the left side with deception. He has a three pitch mix that features a 92-95 mph fastball, a slider with some depth, and a changeup that has some fade, but is inconsistent and by far his third best pitch. His arsenal has the ability to miss bats and his control improved since he has been in pro ball, which are all positive signs pointing to a big league future for Reed.
Reed was a named to the NWL All Star game as he was a lock down starter for the first half success, but he struggled a bit with fatigue towards the end of the season. He is on the bulky side so he will need to keep conditioning a focus if he wants to remain reliable for a full season of starts. Given Reed’s pitch mix, durable build, and competitiveness, he has the skills to become a middle of the rotation bulldog type starter from the left side. Depending on how Reed shows up to camp, 2016 could be a big year for him.
12) Socrates Brito – OF
Date of Birth: September 6, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’1”/200 lbs.
Acquired: Signed with Arizona in 2010 (International)
Well how could you not like a prospect with the name Socrates? Socarates Brito is one of the older prospects in The Dbacks organization, but my guess is this time next year he isn’t on the list. That’s because he looks to be the fourth outfielder in the desert come Opening Day. However, given he would still be considered a rookie, he is included in this list. He isn’t higher on this list because he doesn’t possess plus power or a plus hit tool, but they do have a chance to be average, or close to.
Brito bulked up for the 2015 season, as it was reported that he showed up to Spring Training with at least 15 pounds of added muscle. The work he put in during the off-season paid off given he posted 17 doubles, 15 triples, and 9 home runs in 129 games for AA Mobile. The result of those numbers generated an 18 game stint with The Dbacks at the end of the season. Brito has plus speed and a plus arm, which should aid him in fulfilling that fourth outfield spot. With Pollack, Tomas, and Peralta under club control for multiple years, Brito might be blocked from a full time role, which could suggest a trade should he demonstrate he is ready for more than a part time gig. If Brito continues improving his approach, he could easily turn into a quality outfielder that produces 10-15 home runs with above average speed and defense.