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Weekly Prospect Update: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks are fresh off a huge win in the NL Wild Card Game against the Colorado Rockies. While the D-Backs have their eyes set on a championship, their Minor League affiliates have wrapped up their seasons. For many of the D-Backs top 10 prospects, 2017 was a huge step in the right direction. Here’s how they fared this past season.

10. Socrates Brito, OF

  • Age: 25
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 – ARI
2017 stats: (Triple-A Reno): 78 games, .291/.336/.449, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 43 R, 6 SB, 22 BB, 64 K. 

Brito’s 2017 season got off to a shaky start after he dislocated his finger during Spring Training. He was trying to build off a successful finish to the 2016 season and play his way onto the Opening Day roster. Instead, after missing time, he was sent to Triple-A, where he spent the whole season. Brito’s tools are impressive, but his problems with injuries have kept him from being able to show them off. After batting .291 with five homers and 44 RBI in 78 games, Brito should get another chance to compete for a roster spot come Spring Training.

9. Matt Tabor, RHP

  • Age: 19
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 3(82) – ARI
2017 stats: (RK- AZL): 4.2 IP, 0-1, 1.93 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 9 K.

The D-Backs might have gotten a steal in Tabor, who they selected in the third round of this year’s Draft. At just 19, Tabor already has an electric fastball that has hit 96 mph and is consistent deep into starts. His changeup and slider are still being worked on but project to be average or better as he develops. The D-Backs took it slow with Tabor in 2017, as he threw just 4.2 innings for the Rookie League Diamondbacks. Those 4.2 innings were impressive, as he allowed eight hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out nine.

8. Marcus Wilson

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2014 CBB(69) – ARI
2017 stats: (Single-A Kane County): 103 games, .295/.383/.446, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 56 R, 15 SB, 55 BB, 90 K. 

Wilson put together a breakout season after spending three seasons below A-ball. Wilson has always had an impressive set of tools, but the D-Backs have been cautious with their young prospect. He added strength over the offseason, and it helped him improve at every part of his game. He runs well, legging out 21 doubles, five triples, and 15 stolen bases. His power has come along, as well, knocking nine balls out of the park in 103 games. Wilson batted just below .300 in his first year at Single-A, and his performance was by far the biggest step he’s taken as a professional.

7. Jasrado Chisholm, SS

  • Age: 19
  • Signed out of the Bahamas in 2015 – ARI
2017 stats: (Single-A Kane County): 29 games, .248/.325/.358, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 14 R, 3 SB, 10 BB, 39 K.

Chisholm’s first full season as a professional was derailed quickly after he tore his meniscus in May. He played just 29 games before the injury ended his season. Chisholm has great makeup as a teenager. His maturity and confidence, along with his ability to make consistent contact from the left side, are well above his years. The D-Backs were hoping that Chisholm would show improvement in his plate discipline in 2017 before his season came to an end. Knee injuries are tricky, but Chisholm’s maturity should help him successfully work his way back before next season.

6. Domingo Leyba, SS/2B

  • Age: 22
  • Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 – DET
  • Acquired by trade in 2015
2017 stats: (Low-A Hillsboro): 6 games, .286/.375/.429, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 4 BB, 2 K. (Double-A Jackson): 17 games, .276/.344/.448, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R, 5 BB, 6 K.

Like a handful of his peers, Leyba’s season was shortened by injury, as well. Leyba reached Double-A at the age of 20 after a great first half in 2016. He started 2017 in Low-A Hillsboro before being promoted to Double-A Jackson once again. He put together a solid 17 games before injuring his shoulder and ending his season. Leyba showed a lot of improvement on his plate discipline last year, so hopefully, he’ll pick up where he left off after working his way back from the injury. He has the tools to be a great all-around middle infielder if he can show that 2016 wasn’t a fluke.

5. Drew Ellis, 3B/1B

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 2(44) – ARI
2017 stats: (Low-A Hillsboro): 48 games, .227/.327/.403, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 35 R, 3 SB, 24 BB, 45 K.

The D-Backs like the polish and tools Ellis showed off in Louisville enough to take him in the second round of this year’s Draft. Ellis is well rounded, can play both corners of the infield, and has a mature approach at the plate. While his average didn’t quite carry over in his professional debut, his power sure did. Ellis put eight balls over the fence in 48 games with the Hops and found the gaps as well with eight doubles. As long as Ellis stays on the course he’s been on, he could make his way further up the D-Backs’ prospect list with a full season next year.

4. Anthony Banda, LHP

  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2012, Round 10(335) – MIL
  • Acquired by trade in 2014
2017 stats: (Triple-A Reno): 122 IP, 8-7, 5.39 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 116 K, 51 BB. (MLB Arizona): 25.2 IP, 2-3, 5.96 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 25 K, 10 BB.

Banda broke out last season after leading the organization in strikeouts and finishing second in ERA. While he didn’t put up as impressive numbers as he did last season, he pitched well enough to earn three separate call-ups to the Majors. Banda made four starts for the Diamondbacks, highlighted by six innings of one-run ball against the Giants. He finished the season with the D-Backs, providing as a useful weapon out of the bullpen as they chased a Wild Card spot. Despite the subpar numbers, Banda’s solid three-pitch mix, headlined by his above-average fastball, could help him find his way into the rotation next season. He’s shown he can handle a lot of innings, which should help his case, as well.

3. Taylor Clarke, RHP

  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2015, Round 3(76) – ARI
2017 stats: (Double-A Jackson): 111.1 IP, 9-7, 2.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 107 K, 39 BB. (Triple-A Reno): 33.2 IP, 3-2, 4.81 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 31 K, 13 BB.

Aside from maybe Banda, no other pitching prospect in the D-Backs organization is closer to reaching his ceiling than Clarke. The tall righty breezed through Double-A in 2016 and for much of 2017. In 111.1 innings at Double-A, he kept his ERA below 3.00 and his WHIP at an impressive 1.19. His ability to keep the ball down, helped by his tall frame and downhill angle, has done wonders for his control. He struck out 107 batters compared to 39 walks at Double-A. He didn’t have the same success in Triple-A but still showed signs of encouragement.

2. Jon Duplantier, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 3(89) – ARI
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#95)
2017 stats: (Single-A Kane County): 72.2 IP, 6-1, 1.24 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 78 K, 15 BB. (High-A Visalia): 63.1 IP, 6-2, 1.56 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 87 K, 27 BB.

No one in the system had a better 2017 campaign than Duplantier. He shined in his first full season, posting a 1.39 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 136 innings across two levels. There was some worry about his durability after missing time due to injury the past couple seasons, but he made it clear that they are behind him. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with great sink and his curveball and changeup help keep batters off balance. Duplantier quickly pitched his way onto the Top 100 Prospects list and even appeared in the Futures Game.

1. Pavin Smith, 1B

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 1(7) – ARI
  • lists: Top 100 Prospects (#62), Top 10 1B Prospects (#3)
2017 stats: (Low-A Hillsboro): 51 games, .318/.401/.415, 27 RBI, 34 R, 2 SB, 27 BB, 24 K.

The D-Backs’ No. 1 prospect was brought on board in the first round of this year’s Draft. They took him as the No. 7 overall pick after he batted .342 with more homers than strikeouts (13:12). He brought that incredible plate discipline with him during his professional debut, working more walks (27) than strikeouts (24). In 51 games, he slashed .318/.401/.415, and while he didn’t put one over the fence, he found the gaps and came through in big situations. Smith’s maturity should help put him on the fast track to the Majors, and his great professional debut helped, as well. Expect the D-Backs to waste no time in challenging Smith at higher levels as soon as next season.

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