Blair Lights Out, Other Pitching Prospects Struggle with Control

Welcome to the Dbacks on Deck blog! We know what the Arizona Diamondbacks look like presently, but it is hard to keep up with the future because they don’t play here locally even though most Minor League games are televised and can be viewed using the MiLB.TV package, including all Diamondback affiliates.

Whether you can follow the teams or not, I will keep you up to date on what you need to know. Every week we take a look at the Diamondback’s farm system and a closer look at the top 20 prospects here in 2014 and their production throughout the season.

 

1. Braden Shipley, RHP, Mobile BayBears (AA), ETA: 2015

Last 2 weeks:  3 starts (0-1), 14.2 innings, 21 hits, 14 runs (12 earned), 10 walks, 13 Ks.

Season (Mobile): 8 starts (2-2), 39.1 innings, 40 hits, 21 runs (19 earned), 3 HRs, 22 walks, 31 Ks, 4.35 ERA, 1.58 WHIP

*Notes: Shipley moves into the number one overall prospect position with Archie Bradley cementing his place in the big league rotation. He had a solid first month of the season but has really struggled over three of his last four starts. He has walked a combined eight batters the last two starts and only struck out four combined. Not a good ratio. Seems as if his control is a little bit of an issue of late which will really be the only thing that keeps him from getting a shot at the big league level this season.


2. Aaron Blair, RHP, Mobile BayBears (AA), ETA: 2015

Last 2 weeks: 3 starts (1-1), 20.2 innings, 19 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), 2 walks, 17 Ks

Season (Mobile): 8 starts (2-2), 52.1 innings, 44 hits, 16 runs (15 earned), 6 HRs, 14 walks, 41 Ks, 2.58 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

*Notes: Blair is off to a fantastic start to the 2015 season. He has pitched into the sixth inning in all eight of his starts and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a game to this point. His last start was his best to date going 7.2 strong giving up just five hits, one unearned run, striking out nine and not walking a batter. He has been a little bit prone to the long ball as he has gone just three starts this season without giving up a home run, but the home runs have done minimal damage to this point. If he keeps this up, do not be surprised by a call up to Reno in the near future.


3. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Kane County Cougars (A), ETA: 2018

Last Week: 1 start (no decision), 4 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, 6 Ks

*Notes: It looks like the organization saw enough good from Touki in extended spring training starts that he is skipping rookie ball with Missoula which doesn’t start until late next month and going starting to A ball to pitch for Kane County. He made his debut last week and did a great job. He was capped at four innings and did allow some base runners while out there but received little damage done against him in return. The notion that Touki is already up in A ball considering the fact that he was playing high school baseball at this time last year speaks to the development and maturity that he possesses. It is risky throwing a young kid into the fire like this but the team wouldn’t do it if they didn’t think he was ready. If he has success, who knows how fast he could work up the ranks.


4. Yoan Lopez, RHP, Mobile BayBears (AA), ETA: 2016

Last 2 weeks: 1 start (no decision), 3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run (earned), 2 walks, 3 Ks

Season (Mobile): 6 appearances, 5 starts (1-2), 31.1 innings, 25 hits, 9 runs (8 earned), 3 HRs, 13 walks, 23 Ks, 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

*Notes: Lopez looks to have skipped a start in the rotation and no injury was disclosed but was back on the mound this week and saw just limited action tossing just three innings. He gave up three hits and two walks in that span so despite the limited damage from a run stand point, he might have been on his way to the most hits and walks surrendered to this point. We have noted that adjusting to life in America since coming over would be an adjustment for Lopez and the Diamondbacks will treat him delicately for that reason. Once he settles in, his numbers should undoubtedly reflect it..


5. Brandon Drury, 2B/3B, Mobile BayBears (AA), ETA: 2016

Last 10 games: .261 AVG, 11 hits, 3 runs, 4 doubles, 11 RBI, 0 walks, 5 Ks.

Season: 39 games, .270 AVG, 43 hits, 12 runs, 10 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 4 walks, 19 Ks, 2 stolen bases, .295 OBP, .644 OPS

*Notes: I was about to mention that Drury’s production, while still great for an average player, was low for him so far this season. But he comes out on the day I post this edition of Dbacks on Deck and puts up five RBI’s and two doubles in a day game for Mobile. When looking at Drury’s numbers as a whole, despite the great day Wednesday, his home runs, batting average and walk rate is down compared to what he has done the last two seasons. But his ability to find gaps, hit doubles and drive runs is still as good as any in the minor leagues. The power and average will come but it would be nice to see him on base a little more than he has been to this point.


6. Peter O’Brien, C/OF, Reno Aces (AAA), ETA: 2015

Last 10 games: .231 AVG, 9 hits, 7 runs, 1 double, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 4 walks, 14 Ks

Season (Reno): 36 games, .328 AVG, 45 hits, 25 runs, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 7 walks, 32 Ks, .364 OBP, .992 OPS

*Notes: O’Brien continues to hit the cover off of the ball for Reno for the first month plus of the season. His home run rate has slowed after hitting six in the first 14 games but his production at the plate has not slowed at all. He does is your typical power hitter that will strikeout at a high rate but the fact that he can make up for it by still hitting well over .300 tells you the type of hitter the catcher continues to be. And speaking of the catcher position, he continues to spend plenty of time behind the plate on defense after beginning the season in the outfield. His bat could make it’s way to the big leagues much quicker if the organization has confidence in him to play the catcher position..


7. Robby Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), ETA: 2015

Last 2 weeks (Reno): 2 starts (0-0), 5.2 innings, 9 hits, 6 runs (3 earned), 5 walks, 6 Ks

Season (D-Backs): 1 start (Win), 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 run (earned), 0 walks, 5 Ks

Season (Reno): 7 starts (1-3), 30.1 innings, 34 hits, 18 runs (14 earned), 1 HR, 21 walks, 41 Ks, 4.15 ERA, 1.81 WHIP

*Notes:Ray looked fantastic in his spot start with the D-Backs during the double header in Denver but hasn’t looked like that same pitcher after being sent back down to Reno. In his two starts since, he failed to get past first inning in the first giving up three hits and two walks and in the second, was rocked for six hits and three walks not getting through five. Ray had been decent for the most part before getting the call up for one start but looks to have taken a drastic step backward. We know the Pacific Coast League is known for favoring batters with the parks they play in but he needs to be better if he is going to get another call up any time soon.


8. Domingo Leyba, 2B/SS, Visalia Rawhide (A+), ETA: 2018

Last 10 games: .088 AVG, 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 7 Ks, 1 stolen base

Season (Visalia): 36 games, .221 AVG, 33 hits, 17 runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 0 HR, 20 RBI, 6 walks, 26 walks, 6 stolen bases, .250 OBP, .505 OPS

*Notes: Leyba as mentioned last week tore the cover off the ball in spring training but continues to struggle to find that zone he was in since the 2015 regular season began in Visalia. The organization is very high on him and Director of Player Development, Mike Bell, told me that he “does some things that make you think he is going to climb the ladder really quick.” He displayed some power this spring which has not translated just yet this season and the ability to get on base frequently via the hit or the walk. Once on base, he is a threat to steal having converted six stolen bases in eight chances. But the chances have been few to this point.


9. Jake Barrett, RHP, Reno Aces (AAA), ETA: 2015

Last 2 weeks: 5 relief appearances (0-1), 4 saves, 5 innings, 8 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 3 walks, 6 Ks

Season: 16 relief appearances, 9 saves in 10 opportunities, 17 innings, 17 hits, 6 runs (all earned), 7 walks, 19 Ks, 3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP

*Notes: Had been a lights out nine for nine in save chances this season until his last opportunity on Tuesday where he got rocked for six hits and three runs blowing the save and taking the loss. He gave up more hits in that inning then he had runs all season to that point. Just showed that he is human but he is still proven to be one of the best future closer options in the organization as he has gotten the job done at every level in which he has competed.


10. Sergio Alcantara, SS, Kane County Cougars (A), ETA: 2018

Last 10 games: Sent back to Scottsdale to compete in extended spring training

Season (Reno): 20 games, 8 hits, 5 runs, 1 double, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 4 walks, 17 Ks, .113 AVG, .169 OBP, .296 OPS

*Notes: The Diamondbacks are doing a great job in their handling of Sergio so far this season. The 18 year old got off to a rough start in A ball hitting just .169 and struggling to make contact piling up 17 Ks in 71 at bats. The team decided to send the young and promising star back to play in extended spring training games for the time being to get his rhythm back. Alcantara is said to almost be big league ready with his glove but adjusting at the plate to the pro level will be his biggest hurdle. But he has plenty of time as he just became legal in America this past July.


11. Jeferson Mejia, RHP, Kane County Cougars (A), ETA: 2018

Last week: 2 appearances (1 start, 1 relief) 4 innings, 2 hits, 1 run (earned), 5 walks, 2 Ks,

Season: 6 starts, 2 relief appearance (0-1), 30 innings, 29 hits, 19 runs (18 earned), 1 HR, 25 walks, 15 Ks, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP

*Notes: Mejia was brought to the Diamondbacks organization in the Miguel Montero trade with the Cubs and so far the adjustment to the new team has been a struggle. For the first time all season, Mejia had a scorless and hitless outing in relief which happened to be the last time he took the rubber. But he still did allow one base runner in issuing a walk. Mejia’s control has been non-existent. He walked 45 batters in 79 career minor league innings coming into 2015 and he has already walked 25 batters in 30 innings this year. He has also hit five batters in that span all of which came in four of his first five appearances. Mejia needs to get back to the basics or the team will need to find another environment for him to try and get his confidence back up.


12. Marcus Wilson, OF, AZL-Dbacks (Arizona Rookie League), ETA: 2018

Season (Mobile): Arizona Rookie League Begins in June, participating in extended Spring Training

*Notes: The Diamondbacks needed to add outfield depth last season in their system and part of their way of doing so was drafting Wilson 69th overall in the 2014 draft. He played 39 games in the Arizona Rookie League last season which is where he will start this year. He is a long player standing 6-3 with long arms and actually had contact troubles last season because of his long swing. He has put on some bulk this offseason and looks to display some more power than we saw in 2014.


13. Stryker Trahan, C/OF, Kane County Cougars (A) ETA: 2018

Last 10 games: .225 AVG, 9 hits, 4 runs, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 walks, 14 Ks

Season (Kane County): 33 games, 25 hits, 14 runs, 10 doubles, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 8 walks, 37 Ks, .214 AVG, .264 OBP, .666 OPS

*Notes: Trahan is doing a lot of the same of what we saw out of him at the start of the 2014 season which is too bad considering the hot finish he had to the season and the praise he received this spring. A lot of strikeouts, few walks and hits but the hits he is getting, he is making count tallying 19 RBI’s in 33 games. Consistency is Trahan’s biggest hurdle and we are hoping he can begin to find it this season.


14. Socrates Brito, OF, Mobile BayBears (AA), ETA: 2017

Last 10 games: .278 AVG, 10 hits, 6 runs, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 9 Ks, 1 stolen base

Season (Mobile): 39 games, 40 hits, 20 runs, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 4 walks, 24 Ks, 3 stolen bases, .267 AVG, .282 OBP, .655 OPS

*Notes: Brito had a monster year for Visalia last season and because of it, he enters the Diamondbacks list of top-20 prospects. Mobile is now beginning to see a little of why Brito is a playmaking outfielder who could have a bright future. The man can just flat hit as seen with his 40 hits in 140 at bats. He has four multi-hit games in his last ten and is currently riding a four game hit streak in which he has six hits, one triple and four runs scored. His average will only climb if he continues at this rate and gets to know the Southern League better.


15. Jimmy Sherfy, RHP, Mobile BayBears (AA), ETA: 2015

Last 2 weeks: 4 relief appearances, 6 innings, 8 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 4 walks, 4 Ks,

Season: 14 relief appearances, 0 saves in 3 opportunities, 16 innings, 17 hits, 8 runs (all earned), 1 HR, 8 walks, 17 Ks, 4.50 ERA, 1.56 WHIP

*Notes: It has been closer by committee for Mobile to start the year and Sherfy got the nod to get the first save but blew it. He had two more opportunities since and both of those he was not able to convert either and has not been given the ball in the ninth since. Sherfy pitching in middle relief has been a roller coaster, especially in the last two weeks. He has two scoreless appearances (combining for three innings pitched) sandwiching two dreadful appearances including six hits, five runs and two walks. Sherfy has the ability to be a reliable arm in relief in the future, but needs to nail down some consistency which was his problem last season.


16. Cody Reed, LHP, Missoula Osprey (Rook), ETA: 2018

Season: Missoula Begins 2015 season on June 24th and is currently throwing extended Spring Training games.

*Notes: Reed was the second starting taken by the Diamondbacks in the 2014 draft. He was a little over shadowed by their first round pick Toussaint but really performed well on the diamond in his 14 appearances after being drafted in the second round. He has a mid to low 90s fastball and a sharp slider which made Alabama High School players nuts last year. The left has been known as an innings eater while being scouted and they are hoping that translates in his first full year as a pro.


17. Jose Herrera, C, Missoula Osprey (Rook), ETA: 2018

Season: Missoula Begins 2015 season on June 24th and is currently throwing extended Spring Training games.

*Notes: Herrera was ranked the number one ranked international catching prospect when the Diamondbacks signed him in 2013. 2014 was his first year of American baseball coming from the Dominican Republic and he did not disappoint. He is known for his defense and ability to call a game while throwing out 35% of base stealers. His hitting just needs to catch up. Catching depth is no longer an issues around the big league level and upper minor leagues. This is the catcher of the future if players like O’Brien and Hernandez don’t pan out.


18. Oscar Hernandez, C, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Season: Currently listed on Disables List

*Notes: I watched Hernandez catch a couple innings for Patrick Corbin during an extended spring training game and was able to catch one at bat. That at bat included one swing which was fouled off. He had just returned to the field after having surgery to remove his hamate bone in his right hand and apparently he popped some scar tissue on that one swing which led him to leave the game. There is no word on his status other than this will be a slow and tedious process for Hernandez to get back to full strength. The D-Backs acquired the catcher via the rule-5 draft this offseason.


19. Jose Martinez, RHP, Kane County Cougars (A), ETA: 2018

Season: No appearances in 2015

*Notes: Martinez was once a top 10 prospect with the Diamondbacks after a fantastic first year with the organization in 2012. 2013 was a big step back as he struggles with his control and dealing with injuries which saw him appear in just 10 games. His 2014 season ended just two games in to the year after sustaining a stress fracture in his throwing elbow. When healthy, Martinez has some electric stuff and they are hoping that could come to fruition in 2015. But he is yet to make an appearance in the first month of the season.


20. Mitch Haniger, OF, Mobile BayBears (AA)

Last 10 games: .333 AVG, 9 hits, 6 run, 3 doubles, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 4 Ks, 1 stolen base

Season: 32 games, 22 hits, 13 runs, 8 doubles, 1 triple, 0 HRs, 12 RBI, 10 walks, 19 Ks, .265 AVG, .333 OBP, .719

*Notes: Haniger came from the Brewers last season when the Diamondbacks traded Gerardo Parra and had a very good couple of the months in the D-Backs system after being sent over. After a bit of a slow start to start 2015 in Mobile, he is starting to tear the cover off the ball. He has eight hits in his last five games and just three strikeouts total in that span. He has the ability to hit for power but is more known for his ability to hit the gaps and pile up the doubles. He is about a .260 hitter for his career in the minors which is right smack dab where he is now. lets hope he can build on that and get about that number.


Top 20 prospect outstanding performer last week: Aaron Blair, RHP, Mobile BayBears


 

Diamondbacks full minor league statistical hitting leaders:

-Hits: Marty Herum (3B, Kan County) & Daniel Palka (1B, Visalia)- 46

-Home runs: Stewart Ijames (OF, Visalia) – 10

-Runs batted in: Peter O’Brien (C/OF, Reno) – 36

 

Diamondbacks full minor league statistical pitching leaders:

-Strikeouts: Blayne Weller (RHP, Visalia) – 52

-Earned Run Average: Gabriel Arias (RHP, Reno) – 1.60

-WHIP: Gabriel Arias (RHP, Reno) – 0.93