Keith Law: Arizona Diamondbacks

BryantAP Photo/Lenny IgnelziIt's hard to knock the Cubs for delaying Kris Bryant's arrival, which is why the rules are a problem.
The problem isn't actually a problem. A situation that has Scott Boras lashing out at the Cubs for delaying Kris Bryant's arrival in Chicago and has Bryant subsequently defending his agent (in mature fashion) is an inevitable consequence of a collectively bargained rule. The rule states that a player with six years of major league service -- 6.000 years, where the three digits after the dot represent a number of days rather than a fractional amount -- gets to be a free agent, whereas a player with 5.171 years/days of service does not and must wait another year. The latter player will end up going through the arbitration process a fourth time, at which point his agents may compare his performance and salary to those of free agents and thus may file and argue for a market-level salary. It works in theory better than it works in practice, as the process typically requires looking farther back in time than the players would like, therefore failing to account for the significant rate of inflation of free-agent salaries. The problem, thus, is
Taijuan WalkerTroy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsTaijuan Walker, still just 22 years old, has looked sharp this spring for the Mariners.
Taijuan Walker is getting quite a bit of buzz for his performances so far this spring (just three baserunners in eight scoreless innings) in Arizona, and for an electric fastball that's sitting in the mid-90s. He has improved from where he was last fall, both in delivery and stuff, but he's not back to the promise he showed as a top-10 prospect in the game a few years ago.

Walker threw three shutout innings Saturday against the punchless Arizona Diamondbacks, whose split-squad lineup might not have even been an average Triple-A offense. His fastball was sitting 94-96 without much life, but with more downhill plane than he showed last September or October.

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Arizona Diamondbacks: Top 10 prospects 

January, 30, 2015
Jan 30

Org Ranking: 14

I've ranked every farm system, as well as the top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Below, I've ranked at least the top 10 Diamondbacks prospects, plus an overview of the system and any other names of note beyond the top 10. I also discuss any prospects who might help the big league club in 2015, one or two prospects whose stock has taken a big hit in the past year, and a sleeper prospect who I think can jump into the main top-100 list for 2016.

Non-Insider subscribers: Check out the free Tampa Bay Rays top-10 prospects report to see what these entail

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A rebuild of Boston's rotation begins 

December, 11, 2014
Wade MileyMatt Kartozian/USA TODAY SportsThe Red Sox acquired lefty starter Wade Miley, a 2012 NL All-Star, on Wednesday.
The Red Sox need major league starters badly, front-line guys and mid-rotation horses, preferably with some years of control involved. Left-hander Wade Miley has three years left, all arbitration years, and has thrown right around 200 innings in each of his three full seasons in the majors. He throws both four- and two-seam fastballs, a slider and a changeup, and depending on the day, you might see either of the secondary pitches become his main out pitch.

He was most successful as a command-and-control guy in his rookie season, but when he missed more bats this past year, he also nearly doubled his walk rate while getting little help from a mediocre Arizona defense.

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Cubs catch D-backs having clearance sale 

December, 9, 2014
Miguel MonteroMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsCatcher Miguel Montero, 31, is signed for the next three seasons for $40 million.
The Chicago Cubs lost out on the one true everyday catcher available in free agency, Russell Martin, when he signed a five-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, which meant they'd either have to patch something together from part-time players or take the trade route to find a full-time option. Fortunately for them, the Arizona Diamondbacks happened to be having a clearance sale on everyday catchers. The D-backs traded Miguel Montero to the Cubs for two low-value prospects.

Montero was a star-caliber starter for several years, with three 3-WAR seasons or better in a four-year span, but his offensive production took a nosedive after 2012 and hasn't bounced back, in large part because he no longer murders fastballs like he did in his mid-20s.

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A no-brainer trade for the Yankees 

December, 5, 2014
Didi GregoriusLenny Ignelzi/AP PhotoShortstop Didi Gregorius will be expected to fill Derek Jeter's shoes.
The New York Yankees have acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal. The Yankees sent pitcher Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers, while Detroit sent pitcher Robbie Ray and minor league infielder Domingo Leyba to Arizona.

The Yankees get a player who former Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers once compared -- unfairly -- to Derek Jeter to serve as Jeter's replacement. Gregorius is an excellent defensive shortstop with great actions and plenty of arm, and his glove alone will provide more value to the Yankees in 2015 than they got from Jeter during his final season at the position. Gregorius doesn't have much upside with the bat, showing little patience and below-average power, although his hand-eye is good enough to make up for some length in his swing from his load to contact.

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Tomas definitely an upgrade for D-backs 

November, 26, 2014
Yasmani TomasAP Photo/Franklin ReyesYasmany Tomas slugged .500-plus over the past five seasons in Cuba.
The Arizona Diamondbacks' signing of Yasmany Tomas to a reported six-year, $68 million deal was a surprise only in terms of dollar amount, as earlier reports had him asking for $80-plus million -- who could blame him? -- which seemed like it might push clubs that aren't in the top tier in revenue out of the picture. They get a guy who's probably an every-day player for reasonable money and someone who addresses one of the biggest weaknesses that sank their 2014 club.

The Diamondbacks' outfield, on paper, was looking like one of the worst units in the game, with a no-defense/no-OBP right fielder in Mark Trumbo, a similar player with less power in left field in David Peralta and a great defender but mediocre bat in center in A.J. Pollock (he was tremendous in half a season in 2014, but it was based off a fluky batting average on balls in play). That's not a contending trio unless you're running a few All-Stars out there on the dirt, so assuming Tomas is at least an average regular, this is a clear upgrade in one of the corner outfield sports for Arizona, and it frees them up to do some things with their crop of extra outfielder/bench types. At just more than $11 million per year, Tomas is being paid a little below everyday-player money, which I'd consider a reflection of the risk associated with any player coming from a non-major foreign league to MLB rather than any real doubt about his ability to play every day.

When I saw Tomas in the summer of 2013, he was overweight and looked like a designated hitter, but when in playing shape, he's capable of handling either outfield corner (more likely left field than right, but Arizona doesn't have an entrenched option at either position anyway).

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Brandon McCarthyNorm Hall/Getty ImagesThe Yankees upgraded their rotation with the acquisition of Brandon McCarthy.
The New York Yankees' acquisition of Brandon McCarthy upgrades a beleaguered rotation that's not getting any help from the farm system, while the Arizona Diamondbacks don't capitalize on one of their most valuable trade assets and get nothing in return but some financial savings.

McCarthy turned out to be a poor fit for Arizona's hitter-friendly ballpark and almost as hitter-friendly defense, but he fared well in the three things a pitcher can do to help himself most: miss bats, avoid walks and keep the ball on the ground. While some things out of McCarthy's control have gone against him, he's also had trouble keeping his sinker -- his best pitch -- from drifting up in the zone. He has given up 15 homers -- that's one out of every five fly balls he's allowed -- and all but two came on sinkers or cutters, pitches designed to generate ground balls or at least weaker contact. All 13 homers off sinkers or cutters were pitches left at or above the midpoint of the strike zone.

Although Yankee Stadium isn't a pitcher's paradise, McCarthy has never been this homer-prone before, and there almost has to be some element of misfortune in there, even if there has been a true drop in his ability to avoid home runs. That's a long way of saying I think McCarthy will be better for the Yanks than he was in Arizona and will likely post an ERA around 4, rather than 5.

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Assignments for Law's top prospects 

April, 3, 2014

With the help of Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider, we have compiled the minor league assignments for all prospects in Keith Law's organizational top 10 rankings.

Due to injuries and late assignments, some minor league rosters are not yet official. In those instances, we took our best guess as to where those prospects will be assigned to begin the year.

Note: Players with an asterisk have been traded since the top-10 lists came out, and they are listed with their assignment for their new club.

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Picking division and award winners 

March, 29, 2014
Yu DarvishAP Photo/Darron CummingsThe AL leader in strikeout rate last year, Yu Darvish is an AL Cy Young frontrunner.
Keith Law offers up his win-loss predictions for all 30 teams and winners for the six major postseason awards. Furthermore, explanations for each team are included, along with notes on key players or possible impact call-ups. Award predictions follow the division picks.

AL East

It's hard to pick against a Boston Red Sox team that returns so many of the players who helped them win the World Series last year, losing Stephen Drew but replacing him with one of the majors' best rookies in Xander Bogaerts.

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Dahl looks like an elite prospect again 

March, 15, 2014
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Some thoughts from the matchups on Friday between the A-ball affiliates of the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

• The Rockies' first-round pick in 2012, outfielder David Dahl missed nearly all of 2013 between an early-season suspension for insubordination and a torn hamstring that ended his year in mid-May. He's worked hard to get his body into premium shape for 2014, however, looking stronger and fitter than ever -- yes, he's in the Best Shape of His Life™ -- and given the ability we already knew he had, he should have a breakout season.

Dahl's added strength shows up in his swing, as he has better bat control thanks to stronger hands and forearms, as well as greater torque from his hip rotation.

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Shipley shows elite off-speed stuff 

March, 14, 2014
Braden ShipleyMike Janes/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesBraden Shipley is flashing a plus curve to go with his filthy changeup.
Right-hander Braden Shipley, the Arizona Diamondbacks' first-round pick last June, threw four innings in a low Class A game on Thursday, looking good in almost every respect, especially with his curveball -- the main question scouts had on him as an amateur at Nevada.

Shipley's fastball was 90-94 mph, mostly 90-92, getting some downhill plane but nowhere near consistent enough in that respect; nearly all the damage he gave up came when he left fastballs up, including the three-run double hit by Jonah Arenado (Nolan's brother) on a 92 mph first-pitch fastball that got way too much plate.

However, Shipley's secondary stuff was superb.

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Complete guide to 2014 prospect rankings

February, 11, 2014
Now that the 2014 preseason top prospect package is complete, here are links to all of the rankings, videos, podcasts and chat wraps.

Top 100 prospects Insider
Index | Prospects No. 1-50 | Prospects 51-00
10 who just missed
Top 20 impact prospects for 2014

Top 10 prospects by team Insider
AL East | AL Central | AL West
NL East | NL Central | NL West
Astros No. 1 in farm system rankings

Videos Video
Why Buxton is the No. 1 prospect
AL breakout prospects | NL breakout prospects
Twins, Pirates just behind Astros in farm rankings

Podcast Listen
Discussing the top 100 rankings
Xander Bogaerts and Mets GM Sandy Alderson

Chat wraps
Keith Law
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow
Byron Buxton
Addison Russell

Top 20 impact prospects for 2014 

February, 11, 2014
Nick CastellanosBrian D. Kersey/Getty ImagesThe path is clear for Nick Castellanos to get at-bats and improve Detroit's defense.
My top 100 prospects ranking from late January focused on long-term career value, which meant the list included many teenaged prospects who easily could be five years from producing any positive value for a major league team. If we're looking just at this upcoming season, however, the rankings are very different, and I've produced my ranking of the top 20 impact prospects for 2014.

After those 20, I've listed a number of other players who could come up this season and be above replacement-level if they get the chance.

I do not rank players with experience in a foreign major league as prospects, though those players are still officially considered rookies in MLB when they debut here.

If I included them on my rankings, Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu would be 1-2 on this list;

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