7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Bradley remains atop D-backs' updated Top 20 list
Five Arizona prospects also make overall Top 100 Prospects at midseason revamp
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Archie Bradley, RHP
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 12 (Preseason: 5)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 65
The D-backs had two of the first seven picks in the 2011 Draft, and they wasted no time grabbing high-end pitching. They took Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick, and then they selected Bradley four picks later. While Bauer is now in Cleveland's rotation, Bradley is on the cusp of reaching the big leagues with Arizona.
Bradley throws his fastball in the mid-90s, and he can reach the upper 90s when he needs to. The steep downhill angle he throws from and the good sinking action on the pitch combine to produce a lot of ground balls. Bradley complements his plus fastball with an above-average 12-to-6 curveball, and a changeup that will likely be at least a Major League-average offering.
Bradley has improved his command, and he earns praise for his demeanor on the mound. His stuff, size and makeup make him one of the best pitchers in the Minor Leagues. Elbow soreness slowed Bradley's progress in the first half, but he has looked as good as ever since getting back on the mound.
2. Braden Shipley, RHP
Preseason rank: 2
MLB Top 100 rank: 47 (Preseason: 77)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Shipley was a two-way player as a high schooler in Oregon, and he went to Nevada as a shortstop. He was the Wolfpack's starting shortstop as a freshman, but his arm became too much to ignore. Shipley had largely abandoned hitting by his sophomore year.
Though Shipley has only been a full-time pitcher for a few years, he earns praise for his understanding of his craft. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s, and it has touched 98 mph. Shipley's changeup is his best offspeed pitch, and his curveball gives him a third Major League-average offering.
Shipley is an excellent athlete, and he repeats his loose and easy delivery well. He fields his position as well as would be expected from a former shortstop. Shipley earns high marks for his competitiveness and his aggressiveness on the mound.
3. Touki Toussaint, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
MLB Top 100 rank: NA (Preseason: 85)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
Toussaint spent most of the first six years of his life in Haiti, and he took up baseball late. He was a quick study, however, and he had one of the quickest and loosest arms in the 2014 high school class. The D-backs grabbed Toussaint with the 16th overall pick on Draft day, using a first-round pick on a premium arm for the fourth time in four years.
Toussaint usually operates at 91-93 mph with his fastball, and he has shown the ability to reach 97 mph. His mid-70s curveball has so much downward break that his catchers have trouble holding onto it. Toussaint also shows the willingness to use a changeup, though he currently throws it too hard in the mid-80s.
While Toussaint doesn't repeat his delivery consistently at this point, his athleticism bodes well for his future. He's still learning to control his pitches, but he could have a pair of well-above-average offerings once he does.
4. Aaron Blair, RHP
Preseason rank: 4
MLB Top 100 rank: 87 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
Blair led the Cape Cod League with a 1.17 ERA in 2012, and Arizona made him the highest player drafted from Marshall in the '13 Draft. Blair teamed with Shipley, the team's first-round pick, during their professional debut, and the two will be closely linked for the foreseeable future.
Blair throws his fastball in the low 90s, with good sinking action. His changeup is his best offspeed pitch, and his curveball gives him a third quality offering. Blair throws all of his pitches for strikes, and he aggressively attacks hitters.
Blair doesn't have Shipley's upside, but his stuff and his advanced pitchability could have him moving quickly toward the Major Leagues. He profiles as a durable middle-of-the-rotation starter.
5. Jake Lamb, 3B
Preseason rank: 7
MLB Top 100 rank: 98 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55
Though he had a solid career at Washington, Lamb never seemed to put everything together in college. The D-backs have worked with him to smooth out his swing since they drafted him in the sixth round in 2012, and they are now seeing the results.
Lamb was more of a slash hitter in college, but he has learned how to tap into his above-average raw power as a professional. He has retained his patient approach, and he has an advanced feel for hitting, giving him the chance to hit for average as well as power. Lamb has always been a good defender at third base thanks to his athleticism, strong arm and soft hands.
With his above-average defense and the improvements he's made at the plate, Lamb has developed into a prototypical third baseman.
6. Brandon Drury, 3B
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Drury was perceived to be one of the lesser pieces the Braves traded to the D-backs in exchange for Justin Upton in January 2013. But while other players in the deal have struggled, all Drury has done is hit.
Drury has shown a more disciplined approach with Arizona, helping him tap into more of his solid and raw power. That improved approach also gives him a chance to hit for a decent average.
Drury also improved on the defensive side of the ball, and scouts are no longer convinced he'll have to move off of third base. Instead, his strong arm and good hands give him a chance to become an adequate defender. Still, it will largely be up to Drury's bat to carry him through the Minor Leagues.
7. Marcus Wilson, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 CBB)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Just 17 years old on Draft day, Wilson was one of the youngest players in the class. He also had some of the most upside.
Tall and wiry now, Wilson has the chance to add a substantial amount of good weight and strength as he matures. A bit raw, he does show some ability to make hard contact with some bat speed. That added strength could help Wilson develop at least Major League-average power in the future. His best tool now is his speed, and it helps him out of the box, on the basepaths and in the outfield.
Wilson has all the tools teams want in a young outfielder. Now it will be up to the D-backs to help him unlock the toolbox and realize his potential.
8. Matt Stites, RHP
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 60 | Overall: 45
The Padres drafted the Missouri ace in the 17th round of the 2011 Draft, and they immediately moved Stites to the bullpen. San Diego used him as a closer at three levels before sending him to Arizona in the Ian Kennedy deal at the 2013 Trade Deadline.
Stites has dominated professional hitters with his fastball-slider combination. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, reaching as high as 98 mph, and his slider has late, sharp break. Stites has excellent control, posting a ridiculous 150-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first three professional seasons.
Stites has worked to develop his changeup to give him a weapon against left-handers. Even if it doesn't become an average offering, he has the stuff to pitch high-leverage innings out of the bullpen.
9. Nick Ahmed, SS
Preseason rank: 19
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Classmates with George Springer and Matt Barnes at UConn, Ahmed closely followed them in the 2011 Draft as the Braves' second-round pick. He was acquired by Arizona as part of Atlanta's package in the Justin Upton and Chris Johnson deal in January 2013.
Ahmed's glove is ahead of his bat. His strong arm and excellent range make him a good defender. After struggling at the plate in Double-A, Ahmed will have to prove he can handle advanced pitching. His above-average speed and patient approach could be enough, given his defensive ability.
Ahmed doesn't have overwhelming tools, but his overall game is greater than the sum of its parts. He earns praise for his work ethic and makeup, which will help him as he tries to break into the D-backs' crowded infield.
10. Jake Barrett, RHP
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
A Phoenix native, Barrett was selected out of Arizona State in the third round in 2012. He was the Sun Devils' closer, and Arizona has kept him in that role as a professional.
Barrett reached Double-A Mobile in his first professional season, thanks in part to his fastball-slider combination. His fastball sits in the mid 90s, and it reaches 98 mph. Barrett's hard slider produces swings and misses. He also occasionally mixes in a changeup to keep hitters off balance. Though Barrett's delivery has some effort to it, he has average command.
Barrett's makeup and power arsenal are well suited for pitching at the end of games. He could soon be ready for a role in the D-backs' bullpen.
11. Andrew Velazquez, SS
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Velazquez went under the radar coming out of Fordham Prep in New York City in 2012, and he didn't raise his profile much in his first full professional season. That changed this year when Velazquez reached base in 74 consecutive games, setting a new Minor League record.
One of the keys to the record was Velazquez's improved approach at the plate. Armed with a better awareness of the strike zone, he has become a more disciplined hitter, though there is still some swing-and-miss in his game. Velazquez generates good bat speed, but his small size limits his power output. His improved on-base skills and his plus speed make him an ideal fit at the top of the order.
Defensively, Velazquez is still learning the infield after playing mostly center field in high school. He has good range and a strong arm, and he could develop into a solid defender in time.
12. Sergio Alcantara, SS
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 50 | Arm: 70 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
After signing with Arizona out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Alcantara made his professional debut the following summer in the Arizona Rookie League. He handled the assignment capably, despite playing much of the season as a 16-year-old.
Alcantara has a disciplined approach at the plate, and he walked more often than he struck out in his first season. He has minimal power, and his slight frame doesn't portend much, even as he physically matures. Alcantara is an average runner.
Alcantara is much more advanced defensively. His well-above-average arm, soft hands and good range give him all the tools necessary to become a solid defender. Alcantara is the nephew of former Major Leaguer Anderson Hernandez.
13. Justin Williams, OF
Preseason rank: 17
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Williams was one of the youngest players in the 2013 Draft class, and he had some of the best power. His age hasn't been apparent at the plate, as he has more than held his own everywhere the D-backs have sent him.
Williams packs a lot of power in his big, physical frame. His approach at the plate is still a work in progress, however, limiting how much of that power he can use in games. At his best, Williams uses the whole field to hit, and with more experience, he should be able to drive the ball out of any part of the park.
Williams was a shortstop in high school, but he was quickly moved to left field by Arizona. He has the tools to become an adequate outfielder once he gets used to the new position.
14. Stryker Trahan, OF
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Trahan was the first high school catcher drafted in 2012, with scouts being really attracted by his bat. Though he made strides behind the plate as a professional, Trahan was moved to the outfield by the D-backs in 2014.
Trahan has a strong arm, and he has enough athleticism to be an adequate defender in time. His bat, however, remains the primary attraction. Trahan's bat speed and strength create plenty of raw power. How much of that power he is able to use remains to be seen. There's a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, and he will have to improve his pitch-recognition skills to reach his offensive potential.
At 20 years old, Trahan still has time on his side as he works to make the necessary adjustments. But his struggles in his first experience in full-season ball show that he still has a long way to go.
15. Jose Martinez, RHP
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Martinez was unheralded as an amateur, but that has quickly changed since he signed with Arizona. Though his numbers in the Northwest League didn't stand out in 2013, his stuff got the attention of scouts. Martinez will have to wait at least another year for his performance to catch up to his potential. He suffered a stress fracture in his right elbow, and he underwent season-ending surgery in early June.
When Martinez is healthy, his fastball sits in the mid 90s, and it reaches the upper 90s. His power curveball gives him a second above-average offering, and he has some feel for his changeup. Martinez is still learning to repeat his delivery, and as a result, he struggles with his control. He is a good athlete, leading scouts to think he'll eventually be able to make the necessary adjustments to refine his command.
Martinez has a slight frame, but there's still projectability left in him. He draws comparisons to Carlos Martinez, another undersized but hard-throwing Dominican righty.
16. Jimmie Sherfy, RHP
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Sherfy was a reliever throughout his career at Oregon, and he saved 40 games in his two seasons as the closer. He has moved through the Minor Leagues quickly, reaching Double-A Mobile in his first full professional season.
Sherfy throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s, with good life. His slider is a swing-and-miss offering, and he occasionally shows a changeup as well.
Sherfy has the mentality necessary to pitch in high-leverage situations, and the D-backs have continued to use him as a closer. Whether he can remain in that role in the Major Leagues will depend on how well he is able to refine his command.
17. Matt Railey, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Railey's stock rose all spring as he helped North Florida Christian Academy (Fla.) to a Class 3A state championship. Not long after he won the state title, Arizona selected him in the third round of the 2014 Draft.
Railey impressed scouts with his natural hitting ability. He has an easy and loose swing, and he uses his quick hands and strength to drive the ball. Railey squares the ball up well, and he hits plenty of line drives. He has solid power, but he is at his best when he is driving balls into the gaps and not looking for home runs.
Railey is an average runner, which may eventually force him to move to an outfield corner. His athleticism and improving feel for the game help his tools play up, and they give him a chance to stay in center field.
18. Cody Reed, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Reed created plenty of buzz this spring by boosting his fastball velocity from 88-90 mph to 92-95 as a senior. That increase helped him jump into the second round, where the D-backs selected the big left-hander.
Reed complements his fastball with a slider and a changeup. At its best, his slider has good depth, though at times it devolves into a slurve. Reed shows some fade with his changeup and the willingness to use it.
Reed's weight ballooned this spring, and while scouts think he needs to get in better shape, they also wonder what might happen to his velocity when he does. Reed works in the strike zone, but he will have to locate his pitches better against more advanced competition.
19. Zach Borenstein, OF
Preseason rank: 11 (LAA)
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 40 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The 2013 season was a breakout one for Borenstein, a product of Eastern Illinois. He's shown enough this season to prove it wasn't all a California League mirage. The D-backs liked what they saw from Borenstein, as he was part of the club's early July trade with the Angels.
Borenstein put up gaudy numbers in 2013 despite missing time with a hip flexor that took a good amount of time for him to recover from. With an open stance, he's stronger to the pull side, but the left-handed hitter has shown the ability to hit the ball out the other way, even against left-handed pitching. Borenstein's defensive tools fit best in left field, but his power potential could profile well in an outfield corner.
In the end, it's all about the bat for Borenstein. He'll have to prove it will play at the upper levels, but if he can do that, he has the chance to provide the kind of left-handed power all teams covet.
20. Daniel Palka, 1B
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
As a junior at Georgia Tech, Palka led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 17 home runs. He had some of the best power in the 2013 Draft class, helping him to become the 88th player selected.
Palka has hit everywhere he's gone, from Georgia Tech to the Minor Leagues. He has an aggressive approach at the plate, and there's some swing-and-miss to his game. Palka makes enough contact, however, to tap into his raw power and drive the ball to all areas of the field.
Palka mostly played right field in college, but his below-average speed and athleticism led the D-backs to move him to first base. Though he has the skills to develop into a capable first baseman in time, it'll be up to Palka's bat to carry him through the Minor Leagues.