MLB.com recently announced the D-backs top prospects entering the 2018 season. Two up-and-coming D-backs stars headline the 2018 class; Jon Duplantier (73rd overall) and Pavin Smith (91st overall). Duplantier, a 23-year-old right-hander, turned in one of the more dominant 2017 campaigns to earn MLB Pipeline's Pitcher of the Year award, which is given annually to the top pitching prospect in baseball. Smith, 22, hit .318 in his first professional season while with the Hillsboro Hops.
Duplantier split time between Class-A Kane County and Class-A Advanced Visalia and posted a minor league-best 1.39 ERA. The last player to have a full-season mark under 1.39 as a starting pitcher was Cy Young Award Winner Justin Verlander in 2005 (1.29 ERA).
Six former Aces grace the 30-man prospect list: RHP Taylor Clarke - 7, OF Socrates Brito - 14, RP Jimmie Sherfy - 15, RP Jared Miller - 18, 1B Kevin Cron - 20, and Jack Reinheimer - 25. All six Aces saw action in the Biggest Little City in 2017, helping lead the Aces to a Pacific Northern Division championship under the direction of Manager Greg Gross. Sherfy and Reinheimer both made their Major League debuts after 686 combined games in the minor leagues.
Jimmie Sherfy, the Aces all-time saves leader, appeared in 11 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, posting a perfect 2-0 record and did not allow a run in 10.2 innings of work. The Camarillo, CA native was on the 25-man Wild Card roster for the D-backs and contributed to their playoff run throughout the postseason.
Jack Reinheimer went 0-for-5 in two games with the D-backs but performed well in the Arizona Fall League. The shortstop hit .324 in 21 games with the Salt River Rafters and was joined by Aces teammate Michael Perez.
Taylor Clarke, the highest ranked former Aces player on the MLB.com top 30 list, split time between Double-A Jackson and the Biggest Little City in 2017. In six starts for Reno, Clarke went 3-2 with a 4.81 ERA over 33.2 innings of work. The right-hander was a mid-season All-Star for Jackson in 2017 and was named a MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2016.
The 2018 Aces are poised to repeat as Division champions. Led by Clarke and Cron, who earned Double-A MVP honors in 2017, Greg Gross should have a high-powered offense to match a deep rotation. Gross led the Aces to an 80-win season in 2017 and enters his second season as the Aces skipper.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.