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D-backs have top prospects all over field

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PHOENIX -- Balanced seems to be the best way to describe the D-backs' farm system these days.

While once it was clear that pitching was the strength -- with some talent on the corners and a lack of depth up the middle -- Arizona now has prospects scattered throughout the diamond, including the premium positions up the middle.

where to watch
Where the D-backs' Top 20 prospects are starting the season:
Rank Player Team Level
1 Tyler Skaggs Reno AAA
2 Archie Bradley Visalia A+
3 Didi Gregorius DL  
4 Matt Davidson Reno AAA
5 Adam Eaton DL  
6 Chris Owings Reno AAA
7 Nick Ahmed Mobile AA
8 A.J. Pollock Arizona MLB
9 David Holmberg Mobile AA
10 Zeke Spruill Mobile AA
11 Stryker Trahan Extended ST  
12 Anthony Meo Mobile AA
13 Michael Perez Extended ST  
14 Jose Munoz Extended ST  
15 Evan Marshall Reno AAA
16 Jake Barrett Visalia A+
17 Evan Marzilli Visalia A+
18 Jake Lamb Visalia A+
19 Andrew Chafin Visalia A+
20 Chase Anderson Reno AAA
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.

Pitching still remains the strength, though, with left-handers Tyler Skaggs, David Holmberg and Andrew Chafin, along with righties like Archie Bradley, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill and Anthony Meo.

Acquiring middle-of-the-diamond players was a priority for Kevin Towers when he took over as general manager a couple of years ago, and that has led to the additions of Didi Gregorius, Nick Ahmed and Stryker Trahan, among others.

In fact, when Gregorius is able to play the field after being shut down this spring with a strained right elbow, finding playing time for him, Chris Owings and Ahmed will be a challenge. All three are true shortstops, which gives the team depth at a position that has grown scarce in the big leagues the last few years.

This year's farm teams will be hard pressed to equal last year's success, when Triple-A Reno, Double-A Mobile and Rookie-level Missoula each won league championships.

Fans can keep track of the D-backs' top prospects throughout the season on MLBPipeline.com and Prospect Watch. Get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of Arizona's Minor League teams on MLBPipeline.com/D-backs.

Stacked squads
In recent years, Triple-A has become a place where teams sign veterans to serve as insurance against injuries at the Major League level while leaving their top prospects in Double-A. That's certainly not the case in Reno this year.

The Aces have a loaded pitching staff with the likes of Skaggs, Delgado, Chase Anderson, Evan Marshall and Will Harris.

Some of the organization's top position-player prospects like Owings, third baseman Matt Davidson and likely Gregorius -- when he's activated -- are also with Reno.

Mobile has Holmberg and Spruill in its rotation, while Bradley, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, will start the year with Class A Visalia.

New kids on the block
When he was acquired in the deal that sent Trevor Bauer to the Indians, Gregorius was viewed as the team's shortstop of the future. An elbow injury took him out of contention for making the D-backs' Opening Day roster, but they certainly think he could be in the Majors at some point this year.

A true shortstop, Ahmed saw a lot of time at second during big league camp and could end up playing more there this summer depending on how the organization decides to divide up playing time. During the spring, Ahmed, who was acquired from the Braves in the Justin Upton deal, impressed manager Kirk Gibson with his work ethic and attention to detail.

The D-backs liked what they saw from Spruill during last year's Arizona Fall League, when he was still with the Braves. Acquired in the Upton deal, Spruill is a sinker-slider pitcher who has displayed good command.

Teams on TV
The Reno Aces are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2013 MiLB.TV package will include more than 3,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }