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Farm Futures: Top 10 Prospects: NL West

James Anderson

James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.

This week marks the final installment of the top-10 prospect rankings in each organization, wrapping things up with the teams in the N.L. West. These rankings will be updated throughout the course of the season on RotoWire.com when players switch organizations, lose their rookie eligibility, or when a player’s development dictates a change in where they are ranked within their team’s system. These rankings are intended for dynasty league owners, as many of the players mentioned will not contribute in 2015.

Please feel free to start a dialogue in the comments section below, or @RealJRAnderson on Twitter.

Rank, Name, Position, Age, Projected Level For Start Of 2015

DIAMONDBACKS

1. Archie Bradley, RHP, 22, Triple-A
2. Braden Shipley, RHP, 23, Double-A
3. Yasmany Tomas, 3B/OF, 24, Majors
4. Aaron Blair, RHP, 22, Double-A
5. Brandon Drury, 3B, 22, Double-A
6. Touki Toussaint, RHP, 18, Rookie Ball
7. Jake Lamb, 3B, 24, Triple-A
8. Peter O’Brien, C/1B, 24, Double-A
9. Jose Martinez, RHP, 20, Low-A
10. Yoan Lopez, RHP, 22, High-A

Overview:

It’s not hard to look at the Diamondbacks’ system and conclude that it might be one of the 10 best in baseball. From a fantasy perspective, I don’t think it’s quite there because of the top-six players in terms of upside, four are pitchers. That said, if you’re looking for high-upside starting pitching, the Diamondbacks have it in spades. Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, Touki Toussaint, and Jose Martinez all have the upside to be No. 1 or No. 2 starters, and Aaron Blair projects fairly safely to be a No. 3. The hitters are less exciting, with a triumvirate of third basemen leading the way, which certainly does not spell job security. Granted, Yasmany Tomas may fit better in an outfield corner, but from a fantasy perspective, we would like him to stick at the hot corner. If I’m betting on how things shake out two or three years down the road, Tomas will be in left field, Brandon Drury will be the starting third baseman and Jake Lamb and Peter O’Brien will be bench bats, perhaps with different organizations.

Most Upside: Archie Bradley - Anyone who stashed Bradley last season expecting him to make the Diamondbacks’ rotation out of camp or at the very least earn a June callup will likely not be re-investing this season. However, he enters 2015 with similar prospects where Arizona’s rotation is concerned. If Bradley can show this spring that he can pitch with even just average command and control, the big righty should be in Arizona’s rotation sooner than later. He has the potential to showcase three plus pitches, including a newly added cutter, making his raw stuff on par with anybody in the minor leagues not named Lucas Giolito.

Best Bet For 2015: Yasmany Tomas - It seems like the fantasy community is hedging on on Tomas to the point where if you really like him, you’ll probably end up with him in every league. The question of whether he can handle third base is still unanswered, but it seems like the Diamondbacks would be best served to allow him to enter the season as the starter there and allow him to fail at the big league level. Players like Ryan Braun, Pedro Alvarez, and Miguel Cabrera were allowed a fairly long leash at third base despite significant defensive shortcomings, and I don’t see why Tomas would be any different given the depth the Diamondbacks have in the outfield. It’s kind of silly to try to project Cubans these days, because the returns have ranged from unbelieveable (Jose Abreu) to incomplete (Alex Guerrero), and Tomas will probably fall somewhere in between. If everything clicks, this could be a 30-homer bat with an average in the .260-.280 range, but of all the big name players to come over from Cuba, Tomas would be my top pick to flop, at least initially.

ROCKIES

1. David Dahl, OF, 20, High-A
2. Jon Gray, RHP, 23, Triple-A
3. Raimel Tapia, OF, 21, High-A
4. Eddie Butler, RHP, 23, Triple-A
5. Ryan McMahon, 3B, 20, High-A
6. Forrest Wall, 2B, 19, Low-A
7. Kyle Freeland, LHP, 21, Low-A
8. Tyler Anderson, LHP, 25, Triple-A
9. Trevor Story, SS, 22, Double-A
10. Jairo Diaz, RHP, 23, Triple-A

Overview:

It’s pretty easy to get excited about the first seven or eight names on this list. We have a pair of high-upside outfielders, a couple nice options at positions of scarcity in the infield, and some interesting arms that vary in terms of upside and proximity to the big leagues. One thing they all have in common is that they will presumably call Coors Field home one day, and that pushes the hitters up and the pitchers down on overall prospect rankings. The Rockies are never going to have an issue scoring runs, so the success of this farm system will come down to how the pitchers perform over the long haul. Jon Gray might be special enough to give the Rockies their first ace-level performance since Ubaldo Jimenez’s career year in 2010, but he won’t be ready to offer that up this season, even though he will probably debut at some point in 2015. David Dahl and Raimel Tapia both have the upside to be top-50 fantasy picks, but they’re also a long way away from contributing. All told, this is a top-15 system in baseball that could graduate every pitcher on this list this season except for last year’s first-round pick, Kyle Freeland.

Most Upside: David Dahl - Dahl is a legit five-tool player, and considering he will probably get to play in Coors some day, dynasty league owners should be very excited about him. In his peak years, Dahl could replicate what Charlie Blackmon was able to do last season (19 home runs, 28 steals, .288 batting average), possibly with an even better average. Gray and Tapia also have very impressive ceilings, but Dahl is the guy who could end up being a first-round pick annually.

Best Bet For 2015: Jon Gray - It’s hard to say when Gray, Eddie Butler, and Tyler Anderson will debut in the Rockies’ rotation this year, and even harder to say how they will fare when they get there. For this reason, I’m simply going to pick the guy with the best stuff, and that is clearly Gray. Despite having a fastball and slider that both rate among the top handful of their kind in the minor leagues, the strikeouts haven’t been there the way they should have been against lesser bats. He still posted a 22.2% K% in 124.1 innings at Double-A last year as a 22-year-old, but for him to reach his potential as a frontline arm, that rate will need to increase in the coming years. Look for Gray to start the year at Triple-A and force the Rockies to add him to the rotation this summer.

DODGERS

1. Corey Seager, SS, 20, Double-A
2. Julio Urias, LHP, 18, Double-A
3. Joc Pederson, OF, 22, Majors
4. Grant Holmes, RHP, 18, Low-A
5. Alex Guerrero, 2B/OF, 28, Triple-A
6. Alex Verdugo, OF, 18, Low-A
7. Chris Anderson, RHP, 22, Double-A
8. Darnell Sweeney, 2B, 24, Triple-A
9. Jose De Leon, RHP, 22, Low-A
10. Scott Schebler, OF, 24, Triple-A

Overview: Only the Cubs and Twins can top the Dodgers’ top-four prospects from a fantasy perspective. After the top-four there’s a big drop-off in impact and probability, but the top of the system is so strong that it still ranks in the top-10 in all of baseball. The first three players on the list should be owned in every dynasty league, and Grant Holmes should be one of the hotter names for minor league keeper drafts in leagues where last year’s draft class typically represents most of the available talent. Alex Guerrero is a very difficult player to rank, because the Dodgers seem to continue to operate without any urgency to find him an everyday role, but if he were to win the third base job at some point this season, the intrigue with him would pick right back up. The final five names on the list either offer proximity to the big leagues or upside, but not both, and it would have to be considered an organizational success to turn any of the five into an above replacement-level player.

Most Upside: Corey Seager - In almost any other system, Julio Urias would be the call here, but Seager’s bat-first profile at shortstop and proximity to the majors makes him incredibly valuable in dynasty leagues. He is not a player who sells out for power, but Seager was still able to hit 20 homers to go with a .349/.402/.602 slash line in 526 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A as a 20-year-old. He figures to spend most, if not all of 2015 at Triple-A, as the Dodgers have Jimmy Rollins (who has one more year on his deal) to hold down shortstop this season. However, we could see Seager challenge to be the Opening Day shortstop in 2016, and he could be a top-five fantasy option at the position shortly after he takes over the everyday role.

Best Bet For 2015: Joc Pederson - This one is an easy call. Pederson is a top-five prospect for 2015 and figures to get the bulk of the starts in center field with the Dodgers this season. A better option in points or OBP leagues than standard roto leagues, projecting Pederson to go 20/20 in his rookie season is not at all aggressive, but it would be a tad optimistic to project him to hit much better than .250. However, he should walk at a 10-12 percent clip, which should allow the counting stats to all be pretty excellent, even if he ends up hitting seventh or eighth in the lineup most days.


PADRES

1. Hunter Renfroe, OF, 23, Double-A
2. Rymer Liriano, OF, 23, Triple-A
3. Matt Wisler, RHP, 22, Triple-A
4. Casey Kelly, RHP, 25, Triple-A
5. Michael Gettys, OF, 19, Low-A
6. Franchy Cordero, SS/3B, 20, Low-A
7. Taylor Lindsey, 2B, 23, Triple-A
8. Jose Rondon, SS, 21, Double-A
9. Jordan Paroubeck, OF, 20, Low-A
10. Fernando Perez, 2B/3B, 21, High-A

Overview:

Like the Dodgers, The Padres have a very top-heavy farm system, but unlike their rivals up I-5, San Diego only has one player, Hunter Renfroe, who could be a top-50 fantasy player if everything clicks. Rymer Liriano was poised to be a poor man’s Joc Pederson this year until the Padres went and traded for an entire outfield. Matt Wisler and Casey Kelly will both probably get chances in the Padres’ rotation this season, given Andrew Cashner and Brandon Morrow’s propensity for missing time. Michael Gettys and Franchy Cordero make for high-upside players to roll the dice with if your dynasty league rosters more than 200 minor leaguers, and after Cordero the list starts to get really dicey. Austin Hedges is a notable omission here as the gap between his real-life value and his fantasy value is as wide as any player in the minor leagues. His hit, power and speed tools are all below average, and he will catch 5-6 days per week, so the bad batting average will wipe away any gains in the accumulation categories. In a two-catcher NL-only league, Hedges would probably slot in between Gettys and Cordero on this list.

Most Upside: Hunter Renfroe - Renfroe’s eventual home is not ideal, especially given his skill set. A potential five-tool player, Renfroe’s power is his best tool, and he could hit 30-plus homers a year in a neutral ballpark. In Petco, however, it would be more realistic to hope for Hunter Pence-esque production across the board, with a slightly worse batting average, if everything clicks. Renfroe is a top-50 prospect in dynasty leagues, and should have an everyday job in 2016 if he continues to progress in the upper levels of the minors this season.

Best Bet For 2015: Matt Wisler - With Liriano pegged as essentially the seventh outfielder on the organizational depth chart for now, the answer here has to be a pitcher. I picked the best arm in the system, who also happens to have 116.2 innings at Triple-A on his resume. Unfortunately, even if the usual suspects in the Padres’ rotation suffer injuries, Robbie Erlin and Odrisamer Despaigne are also waiting in the wings to jump in and take a rotation spot. That said, Wisler probably needs to start facing big league hitters in order to continue to develop, so I’m betting on him slotting behind Erlin but ahead of Despaigne in the pecking order for rotation spots that may become available. He should not be drafted in most full-season leagues, but Wisler definitely has the stuff to thrive in Petco and is someone to keep an eye on.


GIANTS

1. Keury Mella, RHP, 21, High-A
2. Andrew Susac, C, 24, Majors
3. Adalberto Mejia, LHP, 21, suspended for first 50 games, then Double-A
4. Tyler Beede, RHP, 21, Low-A
5. Kyle Crick, RHP, 22, Double-A
6. Ty Blach, LHP, 24, Triple-A
7. Luis Ysla, LHP, 22, High-A
8. Christian Arroyo, SS, 19, Low-A
9. Clayton Blackburn, RHP, 22, Triple-A
10. Michael Santos, RHP, 19, Short Season

Overview: This is a bottom-five system in baseball, and the fact that I have a catcher ranked second should speak volumes. I love Keury Mella relative to what you’ll have to pay for him in most dynasty leagues, but he’s more of a high-risk, trendy pick than someone who should be atop a team’s top-10. The problem is, there is some safety but relatively no impact potential after Mella on this list. If everything breaks right, Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Beede could turn out to be mid-rotation starters, but more likely they will be back-end guys or relievers. Kyle Crick could be an excellent reliever, but his control is worse than any other player ranked in this series, and the Giants are continuing to develop him as a starter. If you combined Ty Blach’s superb command/control and Crick’s stuff, you would have a No. 2 starter, but Blach’s lack of big-league caliber stuff makes him even more risky than Crick. The Giants always find a way to make the most of what is at their disposal, and the combination of AT&T Park and Buster Posey can make starting pitchers out of players who probably couldn’t succeed in the role in other situations. However, this farm system’s lack of impact talent compared to what the Dodgers have on the way, should put the Giants behind the eight ball in the division for the foreseeable future.

Most Upside: Keury Mella - Prior to suffering a rotator cuff strain, Mella had a 63:13 K:BB ratio in 66.1 innings at Low-A Augusta as a 20-year-old. He walked more than one batter just twice in 12 outings while showcasing a plus-plus fastball with movement and a plus curveball that can be thrown for strikes. Durability and the progression of his changeup are the only real concerns with Mella right now, and he can silence all of his skeptics with a strong 2015. If he pitches to his potential at High-A this season, the image of him being the next great Giants starting pitcher will start to come into focus.

Best Bet For 2015: Andrew Susac - Susac should not be drafted in any but two-catcher NL-only leagues, but if an injury should befall Buster Posey, Susac would become an interesting add in most formats. Over a full season as the top catcher on the depth chart, Susac’s numbers could resemble a typical Matt Wieters season, where the power is the selling tool.