The Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t a terrible team – they’re just a mediocre one. And in the brutal National League West, that’s not much of a consolation. The Diamondbacks are stuck in the same division as the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, the free-spending and division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, and a San Diego Padres team that tried – and failed – to go for it all this year.
In that environment, the Diamondbacks’ near-.500 record is being wasted. They would be strong competition in some other divisions, but in their own, it’s time to look towards the future. If the Diamondbacks are smart about managing their farm system, they can look forward to a more competitive future – after all, the California teams will have to recover from the series of win-now moves they’ve been making over the past few years.
So what do we talk about when we talk about the Diamondbacks farm system? Primarily, we talk about pitching – especially right-handed pitching, like we’ve seen from Archie Bradley. Bradley, who made the Diamondbacks for the first time, is the tip of a pitching iceberg in the Diamondbacks organization. There are two more right-handers on their way, as well as some promising young hitters. Let’s meet a few of the most potentially impact players in the Diamondbacks farm system.
RHP Aaron Blair, 23 years old
Blair has the stuff to be a starter in the middle of the rotation, and he joins Bradley (already on the big-league roster) and RHP Braden Shipley as a part of the holy trinity of Diamondbacks pitching prospects. Blair may be the least promising of the three, but that’s a relative distinction, as all of them seemed destined to contribute to the major-league rotation.
IF Brandon Drury, 23 years old
Drury is a pretty good defender, but what he can really do is hit. The 23-year-old is in Double-A Mobile right now, and he’s a career .333 hitter in the minors. If Drury can stick at third base, his path to the big leagues is clear. But if he eventually needs to move to first base, that’s one area where the Diamondbacks just don’t need much help right now – star 1B Paul Goldschmidt is 27 and signed through 2018.
RHP Braden Shipley, 23 years old
Yes, another great right-handed pitcher. Shipley has great command on his mid-90s fastball, and he’s a natural athlete. Barring any serious injuries or other setbacks, expect to see him up in the majors within a couple of years. Shipley is still in his early 20s, so it wouldn’t hurt to develop him for another season.
SS Dansby Swanson, 21 years old
Swanson is extremely young– the Diamondbacks just got him in this year’s draft– but he’s also very promising. Swanson has great tools, though he probably won’t stand out as a massive power guy. He’s athletic and more than capable of holding down the shortstop position.