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MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

How do D-backs' prospects fit Arizona's needs?

How do D-backs' prospects fit Arizona's needs?

This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.

Here's my look at the D-backs:

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Short-term needs

The D-backs' acquisition of pitcher Bronson Arroyo filled out the rotation. The club is not terribly deep in pitching, and he will help a great deal.

A challenge at shortstop has highlighted Spring Training. Two very good young shortstops (Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings), plus the veteran Cliff Pennington give the club plenty of middle-infield depth.

pROJECTED 2016 D-BACKS LINEUP
POS PLAYER
C Miguel Montero
1B Paul Goldschmidt
2B Aaron Hill
3B Martin Prado
SS Didi Gregorius
LF Mark Trumbo
CF A.J. Pollock
RF Gerardo Parra
SP Patrick Corbin
SP Archie Bradley
SP Wade Miley
SP Trevor Cahill
SP Bronson Arroyo
CL Addison Reed

One of the first calls to the rotation will likely be made to Archie Bradley. Season-ending surgery for Patrick Corbin has elevated Bradley's station in the pecking order, and the 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-hander is very close to being ready for prime time.

Last season, finishing at Double-A Mobile after starting the season at Class A Advanced Visalia, Bradley had a combined 1.84 ERA and a WHIP of 1.21. He struck out an average of 9.6 per nine innings, while walking over four per nine. However, Bradley yielded only 115 hits in 152 innings.

Bradley can touch 97 mph on his fastball, but it usually sits a tad below. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. Bradley will have to have confidence in all his pitches to face Major League hitters.

Owings is battling the incumbent Gregorius for the shortstop job. If the club could combine Owings' bat with Gregorius' defense, it would have a world-class combination.

Owings is clearly ready for a role on the parent club. A right-handed hitter, he is 5-foot-10, 190 pounds. Last season at Triple-A Reno, Owings hit .330 with 12 homers, 31 doubles, eight triples and 81 RBIs. He also stole 20 bases, and was named the Pacific Coast League MVP.

Gregorius is the better overall fielder. He has better first-step quickness, better range and a better arm. But Owings will challenge Gregorius to hit enough to keep his job.

Long-term needs

The trade of Matt Davidson to the White Sox has opened the door for other third-base prospects. Left-handed-hitting Jake Lamb may be the third baseman of the distant future. He is an excellent defensive player with a good Minor League batting average in parts of two seasons. Lamb has hit a composite .316 in his two seasons. When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League, he hit .299 with a homer and seven RBIs. Lamb's 23 hits included six doubles.

Another third-base candidate is 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-handed-hitting Brandon Drury. He came to the D-backs in the trade with the Braves that sent Justin Upton to the Braves. Drury uses a short, compact stroke to hit the gaps with loud line drives. He has played parts of four seasons and has a composite .274 batting average. Last season, Drury played at Class A South Bend, hitting .302 in his first season for the D-backs. He had 15 home runs and 85 RBIs.

The D-backs feature a trio of pitchers at various stages of development who may offer future help.

Braden Shipley may be the furthest along. The right-hander made 12 starts in 2013 and had a combined ERA of 4.99 at two classifications. Shipley is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound former first-round pick from the University of Nevada.

Aaron Blair, another right-hander, is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. Like Shipley, he pitched at two classifications last year, throwing a combined 48 2/3 innings, covering 11 starts. Blair had a record of 1-3 with a 3.14 ERA. He finished with a WHIP of 1.25.

In his second year, Jose Martinez pitched at Class A Short-Season Hillsboro. He had 10 starts, throwing 38 innings. Martinez is 6-foot-1, 160 pounds and throws right-handed. He yielded only 20 hits, but also gave up an average of 5.9 walks per nine.

Stryker Trahan had thrown out just 24 percent of the runners trying to steal against him and also had 35 passed balls in his two seasons behind the plate. Because the big left-handed slugger's offense was ahead of his defense, the D-backs have begun the process of converting him to an outfielder.

Last season, Trahan hit .254 at Rookie-level Missoula. He had 15 doubles, two triples and 10 home runs among his 60 hits in 236 trips to the plate. 

Right-hander Jake Barrett is a homegrown Arizona player, having attended Arizona State University. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Barrett profiles as a hard-throwing reliever with quality secondary pitches to form a complete arsenal.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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