Arizona Diamonbacks

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Overview (Present Rank: 25th | Future Rank: 15th)

Despite the common belief that an expansion team needs years, if not decades, to cement itself as a World Series contender, the Arizona Diamondbacks won 100 games in just its second year of existence in 1999. Two years later, the team brought the Commissioner's Trophy to the Grand Canyon State after an historic Fall Classic victory that effectively ended the New York Yankees’ late-90’s dynasty. Ever since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson joined the Evil Empire in the Bronx three years later, the snakes have been unable to make any noise in the postseason besides winning one playoff series in 2007 (before being swept by the Colorado Rockies).

Knowing they lacked that true ace, GM Dave Stewart inked National League Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Greinke for a record $34.4MM per year over six years ($206.5MM total) and traded 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson in a package for Atlanta Braves RHP Shelby Miller. With a roster full of solid veterans and promising youngsters, Arizona is hoping the bullpen holds up long enough to acquire some marquee names at the trade deadline that solidify Arizona as a legitimate playoff contender. With top prospects Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley on the cusp of making an impact for the D-Backs, the future is even brighter than the present.

 

*Detailed analysis conducted April 4, 2016; rankings and charts updated throughout the season.

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Catcher (Present Rank: 8th | Future Rank: 16th)

After coming over from Seattle in the trade for Mark Trumbo, Welington Castillo showcased more power than Trumbo ever displayed in Arizona. Castillo’s 17 HR’s in 80 games after the trade lead Manager Chip Hale to believe he could approach the 30-HR mark with a full season in 2016. Considering Mike Piazza and Javy Lopez are the only catchers to hit more than 30 HR’s in a single-season since the beginning of the 21st century, Castillo could be a rare breed. While it’s highly unlikely Castillo replicates his power surge from the second half of 2015, his strong defense and solid hit-tool make him a valuable commodity for Arizona until he hits the free agent market in two years.

The D-Backs have another power-hitting backstop in their system, but Oscar Hernandez’ power typically translates to doubles in the gap instead of home runs over the fence. Hernandez proved he’s still a few years away from contributing at the major league level after batting .161/.257/.194 near the end of last year. Hernandez will start the year in High-A where he’ll need to improve his plate discipline and swing path to be anything more than a backup catcher.

Tuffy Gosewisch and Chris Herrmann don’t offer much in terms of starting-caliber players, but they each bring a sense of reliability in case Castillo were to get injured over the next couple years. (EDIT: Hermann’s improved approach at the plate and new mentality has led to a breakout season in 2016. He is now projected to be the team’s starting catcher if Castillo departs after the 2017 season [7/12/16]).

Future Outlook: From bad to worse

Before Miguel Montero, the Arizona Diamondbacks never possessed an above-average starting catcher in the franchise’s history. Replacement-level players like Damian Miller, Chris Snyder, and Kelly Stinnett own the highest WAR’s behind the plate since Arizona’s inception in 1998 before Montero’s arrival. While Montero earned two All-Star nods, his departure to Chicago left the door wide open for Welington Castillo to take over behind the plate. Castillo has the power to anchor a lineup, but lacks the other tools to even qualify as an above-average starting player. With a lack of viable options in the minors, the D-Backs’ catching situation could go from bad to worse in a hurry. GM Dave Stewart must do something to address the position in the coming years.

(EDIT: If Herrmann keeps hitting, he could emerge as the next starting catcher saving Stewart from making a desperate move to acquire a backstop  [7/12/16]).

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First Base (Present Rank: 1st | Future Rank: 1st)

All-Star-caliber players are typically taken with a first round pick. Silver Sluggers and Gold Glovers are usually players with a top-100 prospect pedigree. Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t taken in the first round nor was he featured in any top-100 prospect list, but he’s become an All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glover. The 28 year-old has defied the odds, and is now one of the best hitters in baseball. As the cornerstone of Arizona’s baseball team, Goldschmidt still doesn’t receive as much credit as he deserves, but make no mistake about it, “Goldy” has been one of the game’s greatest hitters over the last three years. His .309 average since 2013 ranks among the top-3 qualified hitters whereas his 88 HR’s over the last three years are the 10th most overall and 3rd most among first basemen. Goldschmidt is one of the most valuable players in the league and if Arizona ever makes a run at the World Series crown, the former 8th round pick could finally add ‘MVP’ to his long list of accolades.

Future Outlook: Goldy’s locked up

For the next three years, the D-Backs will have one of the best first baseman in the league under team control (four years once Arizona exercises the $14.75MM Club Option for 2019). Considering Goldschmidt is quickly emerging as the best Diamondbacks hitter of all-time, it’s likely GM Dave Stewart thinks about extending him well into the 2020’s, and making him an Arizona Diamondback for life. Scouting other alternatives seems pointless with no player out there representing an upgrade over the 28 year-old and Jake Lamb or Brandon Drury being able to move over to first if Goldschmidt ever gets injured.

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Second Base (Present Rank: 4th | Future Rank: 11th)

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With multiple middle infielders already firmly entrenched on the roster, GM Dave Stewart added more to the pack in the form of Jean Segura. Despite spending his whole career in Milwaukee as a shortstop, Manager Chip Hale made it clear Segura would move over to second leaving shortstop to Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. Segura is a difficult player to project. On one hand, he’s only batted .252/.285/.331 over the last two years which would barely warrant a bench role on a big league roster. On the other hand, Segura is only 26 years old, a former top-100 prospect, and has already notched an All-Star appearance in 2013 when he burst onto the scene with a .294 BA and 44 SB’s. Segura could continue the decline that he’s been on the last two years, but he has the talent to become a marquee player in the league. Fortunately for Arizona, they have Segura under team control for three more years to figure out what kind of player he really is.

Behind Segura in 2016 will be Phil Gosselin who may end up as the starter by year’s end if Segura continues his 2014-2015 struggles. Gosselin doesn’t have many tools that makes him a standout player, but a .311/.373/.500 batting line in 2015 has improved his future outlook. He could earn playing time if Segura, Ahmed, or Owings miss a significant amount of time or drastically underperform.

Jamie Westbrook is another player without standout tools, but enough of a track record to warrant potential playing time down the road. Unlike Gosselin, Westbrook is only a 5’9” 21 year-old, but a .319/.357/.510 slash line combined with 17 HR’s and 14 SB’s in High-A ball as a 20 year-old has created some intrigue. Westbrook will need to prove that power stroke wasn’t a fluke before executives will view him as future everyday player.

Future Outlook: Segura isn’t the only option, but he’s the best option

With Aaron Hill, Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, and Phil Gosselin all capable of starting in the middle infield, GM Dave Stewart upgraded from Hill to Segura (while giving up top prospect Isan Diaz) over the offseason. The D-Backs still have the same quantity of middle infielders, but now the quality has increased. If Segura can get back to his 2013 ways of being an All-Star caliber player, this middle infield all of a sudden transforms from four below-average players to one of the best double-play combos in the league (assuming Owings lives up to his own potential).

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Shortstop (Present Rank: 29th | Future Rank: 23rd)

Now that Aaron Hill and Didi Gregorius are both out of the picture, Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings can finally settle the dispute of who should be the Diamondbacks shortstop of the future. Owings has the top prospect pedigree while Ahmed is viewed as the better defender. A disappointing 2015 for both players may have clouded things, but Owings is certainly the player with more upside. Ahmed may be a stout defender, but it’s questionable if his bat will ever be major league average. Owings had a problem earlier in his career being too aggressive, but in 2015 he was too patient. If he can find that level in between, Owings could finally live up to his potential as a former first round pick and top-100 prospect.

Beyond the two players that have already cracked the big league roster, the D-Backs have multiple options in the minors. Starting with Dawel Lugo and Domingo Leyba, it’s hard to separate the two. They are both 6’0” shortstops from the Dominican Republic with little power to speak of, but a hit-tool that could carry them to the majors. Lugo is slower of the two, but has the stronger arm. Leyba’s range makes him a potential second baseman while Lugo’s arm could make him a viable option at third base. Neither has the profile of a future All-Star, but each of them could hit their way into the starting lineup, even if it’s at the bottom of the lineup.

A shortstop prospect with more offensive potential than both Lugo and Leyba is Jack Reinheimer. The 23 year-old has gone under the radar for most of his professional career, but after coming over to Phoenix in the Mark Trumbo deal, more people are starting to notice Reinheimer’s offensive prowess. Baseball America even included the 6’1” shortstop on their top-10 prospect rankings before the 2016 season. Starting the year in Triple-A, it shouldn’t be long before Reinheimer is proving to big league pitchers he shouldn’t be overlooked any longer.

Future Outlook: Something’s gotta give

Even after trading away Aaron Hill and Didi Gregorius over the last two offseasons, Arizona is still loaded with middle infielders at the major league level and in the minors. Dawel Lugo and Domingo Leyba have done little to separate themselves from each other thus far, but they could be a viable double-play tandem if all the other options ahead of them are no longer in Arizona. Jack Reinheimer has the best chance of emerging as a quality shortstop down the line, but Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed will still get the opportunity to prove they belong before the D-Backs move on. Owings has the longer leash thanks to an excellent minor league track record and top prospect profile while Ahmed will likely be nothing more than a defensive specialist with little offensive value.

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Third Base (Present Rank: 5th | Future Rank: 6th)

While Arizona has an abundant amount of shortstops that are unlikely to ever develop into premium players, the D-Backs have only two third basemen of note in their system, but they could both emerge as top-tier players at the hot corner. Both Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury have put up great offensive numbers in the minors while having the tools necessary to crack top-100 prospect lists as well. Lamb just finished his rookie season in 2015 while Drury will likely lose his rookie eligibility this season.

Lamb’s power and strong arm should keep him at third base while Drury’s versatility could keep him in the lineup, just at another position. Drury also has raw power, but an altered approach in 2015 that focuses more on contact than power could leave Drury well shy of 20 HR’s once he’s a regular in the bigs. Still, both players are poised to be fixtures in Arizona’s lineup for years to come.

Future Outlook: Lamb is the man

Brandon Drury is the team’s No. 3 prospect (according to Baseball America), but make no mistake about it, Jake Lamb is the man. While Drury’s versatility could move him around the diamond, Lamb has the arm strength and instincts needed to stay at the hot corner. He hasn’t shown much power in his professional career, especially against lefties, but he has enough raw power to annually hit 20+ HR’s. Lamb and Drury both have high upsides, but Lamb could potentially become an All-Star caliber player some day if he can ever develop into just an average hitter against southpaws.

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Outfield (Present Rank: 23rd | Future Rank: 11th)

Leading the outfield will be none other than A.J. Pollock. The 28 year-old is just entering his prime on what is shaping up to be an excellent career. The 2009 first round pick added an All-Star appearance, a Gold Glove, and the 14th most MVP votes to his list of accomplishments last season. Pollock is an ideal leadoff hitter with an on-base percentage surpassing .350 and the speed to steal over 30 SB’s. Goldschmidt gets the recognition as the best hitter in Arizona, and while that’s certainly true, Pollock isn’t far behind.

Yasmany Tomas has the potential to become the best hitter in Arizona’s lineup, but it would take a massive amount of adjustments to make that a reality. The Cuban import was given a record-breaking 6yr/$68.5MM contract that will keep him in Arizona through the 2020 season. The D-Backs didn’t spend all of that money because Tomas is the best contact hitter (25.8 K% in 2015) or because he’s a threat on the base paths (5 SB), or even because of his defense (-14.1 UZR in 2015). Arizona invested that lump sum strictly because of his power. Tomas’ power is worth that much ($68.5MM to be exact).

Goldschmidt anchors the lineup with his 30 HR’s, but Tomas could come in and provide 40+ HR’s if he can make at least some adjustments. Lowering that strikeout percentage and getting more contact on the ball could make Tomas one of the most feared hitters in the game. If he can’t do either of those things, he’s just a liability in the field with a few nice hits during the year that happen to go over the fence. It’s boom or bust for the 25 year-old Tomas.

Power wasn’t originally part of David Peralta’s game, but the 28 year-old dropped 17 bombs in 2015. Peralta isn’t a speed demon or an exceptional fielder, but he has an all-around game that is much more favorable than Tomas’. Peralta is likely to regress in 2016 as a .368 BABIP is hard to replicate, but he should still be a quality outfielder for Arizona going forward. However, his inability to hit left-handers (.686 OPS vs. LHP in 2015) could prohibit him from ever being relied on as an everyday corner outfielder.

Peter O’Brien is likely never going to be an everyday outfielder either, but it’s not because of platoon insufficiencies. He’s definitely better against left-handed pitchers, but he’s more than held his own against righties in the minor leagues. What’s holding O’Brien back is his lack of a defensive position. The 25 year-old might have almost as much power as Tomas, but he’s an even worse fielder. The D-Backs have tried him out at catcher to fill the long-term hole there, but to no avail. The D-Backs are stuck with him in the outfield considering Goldschmidt is entrenched at first base and the team can only use a DH when playing at an American League ballpark. A trade would make sense here where O’Brien could become a team’s everyday first baseman or designated hitter and the D-Backs get a much-needed reliever in return. With that being said, the Blue Jays would make sense as a trade partner down the line, especially if Edwin Encarnacion doesn’t re-sign with the team after the season.

Besides O’Brien, the Diamondbacks only have one other notable outfielder coming up through the ranks. Socrates Brito might have a five-tool name, but it’s the four tools he displays on the baseball field that has scouts talking about how high his ceiling is. Brito’s missing tool is power, but there’s hope he can develop some if he adds to his 6’2”, 205 lb. frame. Despite the lack of power, Brito has exceptional speed which along with a strong arm should make him a solid defensive center fielder. His plate discipline needs some work, but if Socrates can make the right adjustments, he has all the tools to be an above-average leadoff hitter in Arizona’s lineup for years to come. Starting the year off in Triple-A, he could reach the majors as soon as this season.

The rest of Arizona’s intriguing minor league outfielders (Gabriel Guerrero, Marcus Wilson, Victor Reyes, Colin Bray) don’t offer much at the plate and will likely never be anything more than fourth outfielders off the bench, if that.

Future Outlook: Money doesn’t always equal production

The Diamondbacks won the bidding for prized Cuban import Yasmany Tomas for a whopping $68.5MM. After a disappointing rookie season, the D-Backs are probably wishing they could get a refund. However, the two other players covering the gaps in the spacious Chase Field are being paid a penny on the dollar. Peralta and Pollock combine to make about $4MM this season while Tomas will be taking home $7.5MM in 2016 before it increases to $17MM in 2020.

The uneven split of financial resources should continue as Socrates Brito is on the brink of claiming an outfield role for himself while playing for the league minimum the first three years of his career. With all of the production Arizona is getting from their lower-paid outfielders, taking a risk on Tomas seems like less of an issue. If the 25 year-old Cuban ever starts living up to his lofty potential, an outfield consisting of three above-average players for only $11MM will be an absolute bargain.

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Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (Present Rank: 14th | Future Rank: 13th)

Heading into the offseason, Patrick Corbin was the unquestioned leader of this staff, but after Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller were added to the mix, Corbin doesn’t have as much responsibilities and can ease his way back from Tommy John surgery. The 26 year-old was looking like an ace before the season-ending surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season. Corbin showed no signs of rust with 16 strong starts to end the 2015 season. The 2009 second round pick has the repertoire worthy of being a frontline starter, but he’ll need one more productive season before people are ready to forget he was on the DL for a year and a half.

Along with prospect Domingo Leyba, Robbie Ray was acquired by Arizona in exchange for Didi Gregorius. The 6’2” southpaw made a great first impression in the desert by sporting a 3.52 ERA, 1.332 WHIP, and a 2.43 K/BB ratio. While some are expecting regression in 2016 considering his low BABIP and HR/FB %, there are reasons to believe he can sustain this level of success. Ray increased the velocity of his fastball to 93 MPH, used his below-average changeup less often, and improved his sweeping slider to induce an excellent 18% swinging strike rate. Ray could settle in as a back-end starter with his new and improved repertoire instead of the spot starter many were projecting him to become once he entered the majors.

Like Robbie Ray, Cody Reed is likely to stick as a back-end starter once he reaches the majors. He has a low/mid-90’s fastball with good arm action that he combines with a powerful slider. Cody Reed’s inconsistent delivery could lead to command problems which might lead to a transition to the bullpen where his fastball/slider combo would play up. At 20 years old, he still has a few years before Arizona will have to make that decision.

Coming off an impressive year in High-A ball, Anthony Banda has surfaced as a promising prospect himself. None of his stuff jumps off the page, but his polished command increases the effectiveness of all of his pitches. The 3.90 K/BB ratio he posted in 2015 as a 21 year-old highlight his potential as a No. 4 starter once he reaches the big leagues sometime in 2017.

Future Outlook: Can Corbin continue to anchor the staff?

Patrick Corbin was one of the best pitchers in baseball a few years ago before going down with Tommy John surgery. Even before the surgery, there were questions surrounding the luck he benefited from during his strong 2013 season. The D-Backs are full of back-end left-handed starters like Robbie Ray Cody Reed, and Anthony Banda, but Patrick Corbin is the only pitcher with the potential to be a real difference maker. He showed signs of being just that in 2015, but he needs another year of top-tier production to prove he’s the real deal.

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Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (Present Rank: 23rd | Future Rank: 17th)

With a team both GM Dave Stewart and Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa believed was an ace pitcher away from contention, they went out and signed the best pitcher on the market (and possibly MLB) Zack Greinke to a monster 6yr/$206.5MM contract. With Greinke atop the rotation, the D-Backs biggest weakness is now a strength. His sparkling 1.66 ERA last year is the lowest ERA since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux posted a 1.63 ERA in 1995. The Diamondbacks paid a steep price, but they now have one of the best pitchers in the game with a solid postseason track record (3.55 ERA, 1.011 WHIP, 6.00 K/BB) as well. But they weren’t done there.

The D-Backs front office traded away 2015 No. 1 Pick Dansby Swanson along with top prospect RHP Aaron Blair and promising OF Ender Inciarte to acquire another frontline starter in the form of Shelby Miller. For the price Arizona had to pay, most people would think Miller is just as good as Greinke, but that is not the case. Miller is no scrub by any means. A 3.02 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and 1.247 WHIP in his age-24 season last year are proof. However, Miller isn’t the ace-caliber pitcher a first overall pick, top pitching prospect, and a potential top-15 center fielder is supposed to net. However, Miller is a very solid No. 2 starter, and with Greinke’s presence atop the rotation, that’s exactly what he’ll be counted on to be.

While Greinke is under control for six years, Miller only has three more years of team control. The Diamondbacks’ rotation should be bolstered by top prospects Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley by then. Bradley was the team’s seventh overall pick in 2011 while Shipley was selected 13th overall in 2013. They both have frontline starter potential, but Shipley is especially intriguing with an unorthodox delivery that leaves the ball hidden until the very last second. Opposing batters will have trouble guessing between his mid-90’s fastball, top-notch breaking ball, and effective changeup. He must improve his present command, but a smooth, repeatable delivery makes it possible he can accomplish that.

While Shipley is looking for a chance to pitch with the big league team sometime in 2016, Bradley got his first taste of the show last year with eight disappointing starts. Bradley has a smooth, repeatable delivery like Shipley, but his fastball isn’t nearly as explosive, and his offspeed stuff doesn’t come close. Still, if Bradley can transform that changeup into anything more than batting practice for the opponents, he can settle in as a quality No. 4 starter.

Rubby De La Rosa is currently the team’s No. 4 starter after coming over from Boston in the Wade Miley exchange. Once upon a time, Pedro Martinez was hyping up De La Rosa as the “Next Big Thing.” However, after two years of mediocrity, time is running out for De La Rosa to deliver on those hefty expectations. With a crowded rotation, the D-Backs could move De La Rosa to the bullpen soon where his high-velocity fastball and powerful slider could do some damage. With a promising changeup, De La Rosa has the stuff that’s good enough to stick in the back of a major league rotation if he can do a better job commanding his pitches.  

To move De La Rosa in the bullpen, Shipley and Bradley will both have to establish themselves as effective starting pitchers in the major leagues. Even if one of them falls short, the D-Backs have Wei-Chieh Huang on his way to the top as well. The 22 year-old has a great repertoire of pitches with elite movement and deception. He could end up having one of the best changeups in the game at full maturity. Huang still needs a few years before he reaches the bigs, but once he gets there, a mid-rotation spot will be waiting for him.

Future Outlook: What a difference a year makes

A year ago, the D-Backs were relying on Wade Miley, Josh Collmenter, Chase Anderson, Trevor Cahill, and Brandon McCarthy to pitch quality innings every fifth day. After their lackluster production proved unworthy of such, Arizona found upgrades in the form of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller while also awaiting the promotion of top prospects Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley. The once struggling rotation now appears to be among the best in baseball in the very near future.

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Bullpen (Present Rank: 29th | Future Rank: 7th)

After the additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, the Diamondbacks have very few holes in their roster, but their bullpen is a glaring weakness entering 2016. Submarine pitcher, Brad Ziegler will be relied upon to be the team’s closer, but Ziegler is far from an elite closing pitcher. The 35 year-old racked up 30 saves in the position last year for Arizona, but only struck out 36 batters over 68 innings (4.8 K/9). He’s the first pitcher to record 30 saves while striking out less than 5 batters per nine innings since 2007. Ziegler would profile as a great setup man on most teams because of his very high groundball percentage (72.8% in 2015) and ability to limit hard contact against him (21.2% in 2015), but counting on him to be the team’s closer in 2016 could backfire.

Adding Tyler Clippard to the mix on a reasonable 2yr/$12.25MM contract gives Arizona another reliever with closing experience. Randall Delgado and Daniel Hudson are poised to pitch in high-leverage situations until the D-Backs inevitably acquire more relief help as the season goes on if they’re still in contention. Delgado and Hudson are both former starters, but didn’t have the control to stick in the rotation. They’re command hasn’t gotten much better, but they each have the ability to overpower hitters with their high-velocity fastballs.

(EDIT: As the Diamondbacks are in the midst of a disappointing 2016 season, they traded Brad Ziegler and Tyler Clippard in two separate deals with the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The returns on both of those players are insignificant, although Vicente Campos does have a chance of being an impact starter for Arizona some day. Click here to see how Ziegler will fit in Boston's bullpen or here to see how Clippard will be utilized in New York [7/31/16]).

Jake Barrett, Silvino Bracho, and Andrew Chafin are all candidates to take over a more prominent role if any of the previously mentioned players struggle or get injured. Chafin might settle into a lefty specialist role in the future while Barrett and Bracho have the potential to become adequate closers someday with a more polished command. Bracho is already a step ahead of Barrett in that category, so he might be the one that emerges as the go-to guy for Arizona a few years from now.

Josh Collmenter, Zac Curtis, Enrique Burgos, and Dominic Leone could all solidify Arizona’s bullpen throughout the season, although it’s unlikely any of them are consistently relied on in high-leverage situations. Collmenter stands out among the group because of his 75 career major league starts, but it seems his career as a starter has run its course.

Arizona has a few intriguing minor leaguers that could emerge as valuable bullpen contributors in the future. Jimmie Sherfy and Joey Krehbiel are two guys that could be mainstays in the D-Backs’ bullpen as soon as next season. Both players, especially Sherfy, will need to improve their command, but they have a nice mix of pitches that could do damage against major league hitters.

Taylor Clarke, Zack Godley, Alex Young, and Tyler Wagner are all still trying to prove they can be productive starters since that’s where the money’s at, but in reality, all four players are likely going to be defined by their effectiveness out of the bullpen. Young in particular could stay in the rotation with the right adjustments as he was a second round pick in last year’s MLB Draft, but the other three don’t have much of a chance. Even Young’s high-effort delivery that puts a lot of stress on his arm could be the cause of his eventual transition to the bullpen.

One player to keep an eye out for is Ryan Burr. Burr was flat out dominant in his 26 professional games after being selected in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft. With a high-90’s fastball and devastating curveball, he already has the repertoire that could seize a setup job down the line. If he can ever get full control of both of those pitches, Burr could be a team’s go-to closer at some point in his promising career.

Future Outlook: Upgrades needed ASAP

Jake Barrett, Silvino Bracho, Alex Young, Ryan Burr, and Jimmie Sherfy along with a few other promising relievers could turn Arizona’s bullpen into one of the best units a few years from now. However, the Diamondbacks made it clear with their offseason moves that they are trying to compete now. If they want to do that, they’ll need to find upgrades in the bullpen as soon as possible. Teams typically wait until July to make trades, but making a move in May or June for a high-leverage reliever could benefit Arizona as the bullpen appears to be the team’s sole major weakness.

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OVERALL OUTLOOK: Get-rich-quick schemes always seem to backfire

Entering the offseason, the Diamondbacks had Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, but didn’t have enough weapons around them for a playoff run. Instead of just focusing on minor upgrades at positions of need (like acquiring 2B Jean Segura, RHP Tyler Clippard), the D-Backs went all-in on acquiring the pieces necessary to compete for a championship. Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller should lead the rotation for years to come while also taking pressure off of Patrick Corbin as he bounces back from Tommy John surgery. Once Archie Bradley and Brandon Shipley join them within the next year or two, Arizona’s lackluster rotation could immediately emerge as a top-5 unit in the majors.

In addition to the two-time MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt and All-Star A.J. Pollock, Arizona has numerous productive players in their 20’s that are only going to get better. It will all come down to their relief pitchers closing out games in high-leverage situations. If the bullpen can't seal the deal, GM Dave Stewart has shown no hesitation in finding upgrades when necessary. With a lot of splashes in the offseason, Arizona has become a trendy pick to reach the playoffs in 2016 for the first time in five years. The same could be said about the Padres last year, or the Marlins a few years ago, and they performed horribly on the field. On-paper talent doesn’t always translate to success, but if Greinke and Miller can make the right adjustments as they become accustomed to their new team, the snakes could be a team to look out for in the second half even if they stutter out of the gate.

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