Probably no organization within the UTR realm has been as bland as the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since tracking minor league pitchers back from 2009, the D-Backs have provided me plenty of misses. Going back through my archives, the only UTR pitcher, thus far, to see any type of success was Ryan Cook. Cook was my pre-season pick heading into the 2010 season and made his MLB debut the following season. He was then traded to the Oakland Athletics where he became an All-Star. The rest of my picks from 2010 never panned out, nor any of the homegrown products from within the system, for that matter. Patrick Corbin is the only name that’s appeared within my writings who made it to Arizona. The former top round pick came to the D-Backs via the Los Angeles Angels in the Dan Haren trade in 2010 and is slated to be the #5 starter this coming season.
A hard study of the Arizona depth charts shows that the organization has worked hard to beef up on arms. Well maybe, if you still have a sore spot with Aaron Blair being sent to the Braves during the Dansby Swanson pillage. The cupboard is now being shored by top prospects Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, and Anthony Banda. So where does this leave us when it comes to UTR’s?
The 2014 UTR-OAS roster didn’t provide any possible future marquee names, besides Aaron Blair. One promising arm could have been Merkis Montero, who made his U.S. debut that year, after only one season in the DSL. He spent 2015 in the AZL and had continued success despite being moved into the bullpen full-time. The D-Backs made a strange move by sending the 20-year old right-hander back the DSL in 2016. Blake Perry also made the 2014 roster and then repeated in 2015. The California League wasn’t too kind to him in 2015, but he still posted a 9.9 K/9 rate in 119.1 innings. He repeated HiA Visalia in 2016 where he made 18 relief appearances.
The quality of the 2015 UTR-OAS showed some improvement. Anthony Banda appeared along with 2014 – 2nd round pick Cody Reed. A couple of intriguing arms are Carlos Hernandez and Jared Miller. Hernandez struggled with his control in 2016 and Miller throws a deceptive low 90’s fastball, but may project as a LOOGY. Zac Curtis was only D-Backs pitcher to earn any tag over the last two seasons. I named him as a “Legit UTR” after last year and he made 14 MLB appearances in 2016, but was traded to Seattle back in November. To wrap-up the Diamondbacks, they basically haven’t developed any homegrown pitchers, other than top picks over the last few years. If your a D-Backs fan, keep checking back to our site to see if any surprising arms appear in 2017.
Top 5 Starting Pitchers – Factor Score / TPS
1. RHP Justin Donatella – 21 / .118
21 years old – (LoA Kane County / HiA Visalia)
15th round – 2015
During the season (at the end of each month), I post a review of the top UTR pitchers across each level. At the LoA/HiA levels, Donatella almost made a clean sweep being named the top pitcher. He was bumped out in June by the #2 UTR-OAS Joel Payamps, only because Donatella had a horrible month. He got everything back on track and led all Diamondback minor league pitchers with 13 wins. This was his sophomore season after only pitching 26.2 innings in the rookie leagues in 2015.
Payamps was released by Rockies on May 2015 and signed by D-Backs the following November. If he would have performed well during the Winter League, the Diamondback risked losing him during the Rule 5 draft this past December. He only pitched 2.2 innings (3 appearances) with Estellas of the Dominican Winter League, surrendering seven runs on 9 hits, facing only facing 16 batters. This will benefit Arizona who won’t leave the young righty unprotected in the future. Payamps struck out almost a quarter of the batters he faced in 2016, a percentage that didn’t dip with a promotion to HiA Visalia. Look for him to make waves in 2017.
Young is a top draft pick that came out of NCAA powerhouse TCU, where he pitched mainly from the bullpen, but was outstanding as a starter in his final season. That junior season workload didn’t allow the D-Backs to utilize the left-hander in his pro debut, limiting him to only seven innings in seven games. He had an inconsistent 2016 and stumbled a bit after his HiA promotion. The D-Backs should push Young through the higher levels in 2017, and he could quite possibly see his MLB debut in 2018.
Keller is a very intriguing UTR, making a repeat appearance as an OAS. He possesses size (6’5″- 23o lbs), a mid-90’s fastball with cut & sink that creates a ton of ground balls. To bring this whole package together and advance Keller into the Arizona rotation, is for the lefty to improve his command. Keller doesnt turn 22 until late July, so continue to watch his progress in 2017 with Double-A Mobile.