5) Yoan Lopez – RHP
Date of Birth: January 2, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’3”/185 lbs.
Acquired: Signed with Arizona in 2015 (International)
Yoan Lopez was overshadowed by The Dbacks signing Yosmany Tomas, but The Dbacks like the right hander a lot, especially considering they incurred penalties for going over their allotted International spending total. There is a lot to like when it comes to Lopez, he has the body to be a starter long term, he seems fairly polished for a 22 year old pitcher, and has a solid delivery. He has a three pitch mix that features a plus fastball that sits at 92-95 mph but has little movement.
He got hit pretty hard in The 2015 Arizona Fall League (AFL) when he was just throwing his fastball, but once he mixed in his slider and changeup, hitters became very uncomfortable in the box. His slider has significant potential to be a Major League strikeout pitch as it has great velocity with sharp break.
What I saw at the AFL is that maybe Lopez just needs more experience formulating a game plan and executing it rather than just throwing his fastball by hitters. Lopez has middle of the rotation upside but will need to continue to grow both on and off the field to reach that potential. Once he makes the Majors, hopefully Yasmany Tomas can take him under his wing to make him feel more comfortable.
Brandon Drury is a 13th round pick taken in the 2010 draft by The Atlanta Braves. He struggled in his first full season, but his bat took off once he joined Arizona’s system. Drury profiles as a solid bat, with some power, and a plus arm at third base, with the potential to play second base as well. He has improved his approach at the plate, which has increased his walk rate. He drives balls into the gaps and has home run power. At 23, he might not bulk up much more, but with added reps he may develop into a 15 home run producer.
Drury got a cup of coffee in 2015 with The Dbacks and while he didn’t put up gaudy numbers, it can be helpful for a player to get his feet wet before a full season in The Major Leagues. Drury is still on this list because Jake Lamb currently occupies third base. The Dbacks might slide Drury over to second base, but they have Aaron Hill and Chris Owings as options there, while also being linked to Brandon Phillips discussions. This puts The Dbacks in a tough spot, which could hint to a trade that sends Drury elsewhere. If they really like Drury, maybe they move Lamb and let Drury play third. Drury’s advanced approach and quick swing will allow him to be a Major League contributor as early as Opening Day 2016.
Peter O’Brien has had an interesting path to The Major Leagues. He was drafted as catcher by The Yankees then traded to Arizona when at the time rumors were he couldn’t stay at the catching position. He tried to catcher in The Dbacks system but troubles throwing the ball back to the pitcher and average receiving skills made a move to the outfield seem logical. The only problem is that The Dbacks outfield is already a crowded room, and currently there isn’t a full time spot for O’Brien. Thus, he is still on this list when he is probably ready to be a full time big leaguer.
A report came out in late September that noted O’Brien expressed interest in returning to the catching position. We will whether he catches or plays the outfield, but to be a catcher in The Major Leagues, that player has to want it, and it seems O’Brien wants it. What O’Brien really wants to do is display his calling card, which is his plus power. He has a solid hit tool and defensive skills, but it is the power that will make O’Brien a household name. Keep an eye out for O’Brien in 2016 as he won’t be on this list this time next year.
2) Braden Shipley – RHP
Date of Birth: February 22, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’2”/185 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted 1st round (15) in 2013
Braden Shipley is the definition of an athletic pitcher. A former shortstop that started pitching when he was a sophomore in college, Shipley displays an advanced feel for pitching considering his path. Shipley has been a bit overshadowed by Archie Bradley and Aaron Blair, but a large part of that can be attributed to him being a few years behind them in the system.
Shipley flashes three above average to plus pitches, with the fastball being the best of the three offerings. His fastball has good movement and sits 90 to 93 mph with the ability to reach back for more when needed. Both the curveball and changeup can be Major League strikeout pitches as both are thrown with the same arm action creating significant deception. His curveball has improved while he has been in pro ball, which shows his ability to develop his craft. Shipley’s combination of athleticism, plus stuff, and deception equals a very promising Major League future if he continues to progress. His ceiling is a fringe ace/number two starter, but he could also settle in as a premier number three starter.
1) Archie Bradley – RHP
Date of Birth: August 10, 1992
Height/Weight: 6’4”/230 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted 1st round (7) in 2011
The number one spot is left for Archie Bradley. Bradley probably deserves to have graduated from the prospects ranks, but he took a comebacker off his head and then missed time with shoulder stiffness hindering him to only total 35.2 Major League innings. This is the same guy that was hyped with players such as, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. Those players have had more success in The Major Leagues, but that doesn’t take away from Bradley’s skills.
Bradley is a strong, but athletic, pitcher with a great delivery and a four-pitch mix. He sports a plus plus fastball that sits 92-94 mph, with the ability to reach back for more when needed. His curveball is probably more of a slurve given it has the shape of a curveball but the breaking action of a slider. He developed a slider while in Arizona and he has had success with it. The changeup needs work but he has some feel for it as it has improved over his pro career. While Bradley may not be the ace insiders were projecting, he still has significant skills to be successful in The Major Leagues. A number two is probably more of a realistic ceiling for him, but there is still ace potential if he can figure out his command issues and shake the injuries.