Top 46 Prospects: Arizona Diamondbacks by Eric Longenhagen March 8, 2021 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. Each blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report if there were any. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in my opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on my lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2021 2020 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Diamondbacks Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Corbin Carroll 20.5 A- CF 2023 60 2 Kristian Robinson 20.2 A RF 2022 55 3 Alek Thomas 20.9 A+ LF 2022 55 4 Geraldo Perdomo 21.4 A+ SS 2021 50 5 Slade Cecconi 21.7 R SP 2024 50 6 Corbin Martin 25.2 MLB SP 2021 50 7 Blake Walston 19.7 A- SP 2024 45+ 8 Drey Jameson 23.6 A- SP 2022 45 9 Bryce Jarvis 23.2 R SP 2024 45 10 Pavin Smith 25.1 MLB 1B 2021 45 11 Ryne Nelson 23.1 A- MIRP 2022 45 12 Tommy Henry 23.6 A- SP 2023 45 13 Matt Tabor 22.6 A SP 2022 45 14 Levi Kelly 21.8 A MIRP 2022 40+ 15 Luis Frías 22.8 A SIRP 2021 40+ 16 Seth Beer 24.5 AA DH 2021 40+ 17 Wilderd Patino 19.6 R CF 2023 40+ 18 Jhosmer Alvarez 19.7 R SIRP 2022 40+ 19 Justin Martinez 19.6 R SP 2023 40+ 20 Manuel Peña 17.3 R 3B 2025 40+ 21 J.B. Bukauskas 24.4 AA SIRP 2021 40 22 Conor Grammes 23.6 A- SIRP 2023 40 23 Stuart Fairchild 25.0 AA CF 2021 40 24 Jeferson Espinal 18.8 R CF 2025 40 25 Andy Young 26.8 MLB 2B 2021 40 26 A.J. Vukovich 19.6 R 1B 2025 40 27 Taylor Widener 26.4 MLB SP 2021 40 28 Humberto Mejía 24.0 MLB MIRP 2021 40 29 Jon Duplantier 26.7 MLB SP 2021 40 30 Alvin Guzman 19.4 R CF 2024 40 31 Liam Norris 19.6 R SP 2025 40 32 Matt Peacock 27.0 AA MIRP 2021 40 33 Neyfy Castillo 20.0 R 1B 2022 40 34 Josh Green 25.5 AA SP 2021 40 35 Dominic Fletcher 23.5 A RF 2023 35+ 36 Blaze Alexander 21.7 A SS 2023 35+ 37 Eduardo Herrera 21.2 A- SIRP 2023 35+ 38 Buddy Kennedy 22.4 A 3B 2022 35+ 39 Junior Mieses 21.4 R SIRP 2022 35+ 40 Glenallen Hill Jr. 20.4 R 2B 2024 35+ 41 Bobby Ay 23.8 R SIRP 2023 35+ 42 West Tunnell 27.3 AA SIRP 2022 35+ 43 Matt Mercer 24.5 A+ SIRP 2022 35+ 44 Avery Short 20.0 A- SP 2023 35+ 45 Edinson Soto 24.5 R SIRP 2022 35+ 46 Luis Castillo 26.0 A+ SIRP 2021 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 60 FV Prospects 1. Corbin Carroll, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Lakeside HS (WA) (ARI) Age 20.5 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/70 45/50 30/50 70/70 50/60 55 Carroll’s 2020 Instructional League performance continued to fortify the notion that he is among the most skilled and advanced 20-year-olds in all of the minor leagues. His at-bats have a big league veteran quality, and this, combined with his constant energy and verve, make him a very dangerous leadoff hitter prospect. Though not likely to hit for significant over-the-fence power, mostly due to his approach rather than a lack of strength, Carroll whistles balls into the gaps and down both baselines, then kicks it into top gear very quickly and punishes outfielders slow to corral the ball by turning their lackadaisical fielding into extra bases. So exceptional are Carroll’s hand-eye coordination and barrel accuracy, especially for his age, that he now has among the best hit tool projections in the minors. It’s a skillset very similar to Brett Gardner‘s, except Carroll can play center field. There are players this age with a higher ceiling because of their potential power production, but Carroll is a very high-floor prospect who I expect will produce at an All-Star level for much of his career. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 55 FV Prospects 2. Kristian Robinson, RF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Bahamas (ARI) Age 20.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 60/70 30/60 60/50 45/50 60 The pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the cogs of the entire planet, let alone the developmental trajectory of baseball prospects. Kristian Robinson is among the most talented and prominent of those affected. After parts of three years in the warmth and security of the complex, it was time for Robinson to go to full-season ball and perform, and start to reinforce the tools- and frame-based excitement he had generated as a teenager. Instead Robinson spent another year sequestered in Scottsdale, too green to be part of the D-backs official alternate site group until he was added later in the summer. By the time Fall Instructional League rolled around and scouts were able to see him, Robinson looked rusty. He took poor at-bats and struck out a lot while missing hittable pitches in the zone. But if any player, at any level were to struggle for a couple weeks, it’d easily be dismissed as a brief slump or tough-luck dry spell rather than a true regression, and that’s even before considering the individual player’s context. Robinson’s 2020 was supposed to be about making adjustments to full-season pitching and getting his swing to a place that would allow for more in-game power. Instead it meant an entire year away from competitive baseball, a whole year away from home, an unspoken indication from the org that he had been passed by Corbin Carroll (who was invited to the alt site group immediately), and more monotonous developmental ball during instructs. Let’s not lose sight of the foundation here: Robinson is built like a young Larry Fitzgerald, and he entered pro ball without the same kind of performance track record as most of his Dominican peers but still received the fourth-largest bonus in his signing class because his tools are so huge. In 2019, he hit 50% of his balls in play with an exit velo of 95 mph or more, which is up in Joey Gallo/Nelson Cruz territory. It is not normal to see a person like this on a baseball field, and Robinson has uncommon potential because of it. The questions that need answering here are the same as last year: Can Kristian turn a suitable swing foundation into one with impact, and can he perform against more advanced pitching? He’ll hit 35-plus bombs every year if he can. For now, he fits in the Top 100 continuum near the 55/50 FV line, along with several other prospects of extreme variance and ceiling. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 3. Alek Thomas, LF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Mount Carmel HS (IL) (ARI) Age 20.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 50/55 40/55 60/60 50/55 40 There is a difference between a prospect being short and a prospect being small. Alek Thomas’ frame reads as Lilliputian on paper, but in reality, he’s quite strong and has one of the more athletic swings in all of the minors. Since he was drafted, Thomas’ swing has evolved to mirror the intensity of prospect-era Cody Bellinger‘s, and sometimes Thomas swings so hard that he looks like he’s going to corkscrew himself into the ground. His leg kick is a little bigger and slower now than it was when he was an amateur and first-year pro, and his stride is longer, which might help him avoid cutting down at the ball so much. The change to his swing and his approach — Thomas was once an all-fields spray sort of hitter but was trying to pull the ball constantly during my instructs look, though maybe he was just bored — could allow for more in-game power. The foundation of Thomas’ prospectdom was his advanced baseball acumen and feel for contact, both of which were surprising for a cold weather prospect. But he was good enough to play in several upper-class events as an underclassman during his amateur career, and he performed in those consistently. He tracks pitches well and moves the bat head around the zone, and those underlying skills as well as Thomas’ athleticism and (unlike Bellinger) shorter levers help enable him to take these new, huge hacks without striking out a ton. Some underlying 2019 metrics indicate Thomas indeed needed a swing tweak to unlock some in-game pop. He averaged just shy of 90 mph off the bat in 2019 and about 48% of his balls in play came off at 95 mph or above, but he ran a groundball rate of nearly 55% and some proprietary, Statcast-y expected stats I’ve sourced indicate he overperformed on paper in 2019. But, as I tend to do, I’m betting on a) athleticism and b) feel to hit, both of which Thomas has shown for nearly a half-decade now. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 50 FV Prospects 4. Geraldo Perdomo, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr S / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 45/50 30/45 55/55 45/55 55 The 50 FV tier is littered with rock solid, up-the-middle defenders who have enough offensive ability to play every day, even if they’re not impact hitters. A big part of how they’re layered throughout the tier is based on which ones I think are more likely to grow into some pop, which is why the 21-year-old Perdomo is near the top. Suitable range bolstered by his instincts, and plus feet, actions, and arm utility make him a potential plus defender at short. His feel for the strike zone and bat-to-ball ability from the left side of the plate (his right-handed swing is bad) will be sufficient for low-end everyday duty, but relevant power might be coming. Perdomo’s exit velos climbed throughout 2019. He averaged about 80 mph off the bat at Low-A, then about 82 mph after his promotion to Hi-A, and finally averaged 87 mph during a limited Fall League sample. His body has become more mature, and his left-handed swing has become more explosive and now features an overhead, helicopter finish similar to Miguel Andújar’s even though Perdomo’s physicality really hasn’t changed at all. There’s still some room for improvement as it relates to his lower half usage in the swing, and it’s possible Perdomo scraps hitting right-handed altogether at some point. The skills/instincts foundation here is solid enough to project Perdomo as a low-end regular, and the burgeoning physical ability means he’s begun to look like more than that. (Alternate site) 5. Slade Cecconi, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Miami (ARI) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/60 50/55 40/45 35/50 92-96 / 97 Cecconi was sitting 94-97 in the summer before his senior year of high school, then missed most of the following spring with an oblique issue. He came back just before the draft, sat in the low-90s, and his stock couldn’t recover, so he went to school. Over two years at Miami (he was a draft-eligible sophomore), his arm strength returned, and Cecconi was once again living in the mid-90s while incorporating a slider with variable shape (it has very nasty two-plane break when it’s well-located), and a lesser (but viable) change and cutter during the very brief 2020 college season. Either time or pro development unlocked yet nastier stuff during Cecconi’s summer and Fall instructs outings. Sources from both inside and outside Arizona’s org saw Cecconi sitting 94-96 and touching 98 with two breaking balls that were more-consistent looking than they were when he was in college; he had feel for both of them. A prospect who looked like that likely would have gone somewhere between picks 10 and 15 rather than in the sandwich round. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 6. Corbin Martin, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Texas A&M (HOU) Age 25.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 55/55 55/55 50/55 50/55 93-95 / 98 TrackMan-focused teams were all on Martin the summer after his sophomore year, as he showed three data-friendly plus pitches and starter traits while he closed games on Cape Cod. Due to a deep veteran staff at Texas A&M and his own inconsistency, Martin only really pitched for part of one season as a starter while he was in college. A lot of teams thought he was just going to be a reliever. The Astros popped him in the second round of the 2017 draft, hoping to tease out the traits they saw on the Cape, and in the two years he was in the org, they did it. Martin was a top 100 prospect before his elbow blew out in June of 2019, and he was included as part of the trade for Zack Greinke during his rehab. Healthy Martin sits in the mid-90s, mixes in a hard, upper-80s slider, has an above-average power changeup, a more vertically-oriented curveball, and has at least average command. The timing of his surgery made it hard for him to return during the 2020 regular season, and instead he pitched toward the end of the alt site run and during instructs, sitting 92-95 in those outings. That’s a shade beneath where he was pre-injury, when Martin sat 93-96 and was touching 98, and even at that velocity it was only playing like an average pitch. Folks in baseball consider Martin the sort of cat who’s going to get the most out of himself, and with a return to his normal velocity, I think that will be a 2 WAR starter. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 45+ FV Prospects 7. Blake Walston, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from New Hanover HS (NC) (ARI) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 40/45 55/70 45/55 25/55 88-92 / 93 Walston was a young for his draft class pop-up arm who made a rapid ascent up team boards during his senior spring. He was ultra projectable, an above average athlete, and already had a plus curveball. He also had feel for a changeup and command, and his fastball has life that enables it to compete for swings and misses in the zone even though it isn’t all that hard yet. He was up to 94 in the 2019 AZL after he signed and was the same at the 2020 alternate site, sitting 90-92. Then Walston came out of the gate throwing harder during instructs before his velocity backed off into the low-90s again. Had he held that kind of velo throughout the Fall, Waltson would be on the Top 100 list. How Walston develops physically, and how those gains counterbalance the coming full-season workload, will dictate when he rises and how much. But he’s really just consistent, impact velocity away from being a very good pitching prospect, and velocity is the thing the industry is becoming the best at developing. Walston’s secondary/command foundation gives him a chance to end up with three plus pitches and command. He’s as risky as any teenage pitching prospect, perhaps riskier when you consider the velocity fluctuations he has now shown since high school. One scout’s upward trajectory is another’s recency bias. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 45 FV Prospects 8. Drey Jameson, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Ball State (ARI) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/50 55/60 45/50 30/45 93-96 / 98 Jameson carved up Stanford in his first start of the 2019 season in front of a huge contingent of scouts and was immediately on the Day One map as a draft-eligible sophomore. His high-maintenance delivery is hard to repeat, but it also makes things awkward for hitters, who don’t typically see this kind of arm slot/release point. Even though it has changed a little bit in pro ball (Jameson’s weight sits on his rear leg for longer, his knee bend is deeper now than before, and he lands more open than he did in college), it’s still a tough look for hitters, especially righties, who are often frozen by his breaking stuff. Jameson was consistently into the upper-90s during 2020 instructs, and he manipulates the shape of two good breaking balls and flashes an occasional plus changeup. The delivery may make it hard for him to start, and Jameson has a skinny, atypical frame. Some teams think he’ll end up in relief, but it may be in a multi-inning or high-leverage role, and he’s held velo deep into games as a starter, so he has a shot to stick. (Fall Instructional League) 9. Bryce Jarvis, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Duke (ARI) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 45/50 50/55 35/60 92-94 / 97 In 2019, Jarvis was 88-92 with an average breaker, an above-average changeup, and good feel to pitch. In 2020, his velo climbed into the 93-94 area without sacrificing any command and his changeup was consistently plus. From a pitch movement demarcation standpoint, Jarvis does things a lot of progressive teams really like, and his slider is likely to perform above its raw grade because of how well it’s located. His changeup will need to be located as consistently to be an impact pitch. He profiles as a fourth starter based on 2020 looks, but the industry can’t be sure he’ll hold this new velo over an entire campaign. He held it through D-backs alt site work, though, averaging 93-94 there and touching 97, though his command was not as good and his arm action looked longer. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 10. Pavin Smith, 1B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Virginia (ARI) Age 25.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/55 50/50 40/45 40/40 40/40 45 Smith has had elite strikeout-to-walk ratios dating back to college, but lacks the raw power and lift necessary to profile as an everyday first baseman. Starting in 2019, his body and mobility improved, which made him more playable in both outfield corners, and Smith had a strong offensive season in the Southern League, which is tough on hitters. He now projects as the larger half of a first base/corner outfield platoon. (Alternate site, MLB) 11. Ryne Nelson, MIRP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Oregon (ARI) Age 23.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 50/55 40/50 30/40 93-96 / 97 Nelson had injury issues and moved back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen at Oregon. In the ‘pen, he sits in the upper-90s with huge life and tough angle, and his fastball has nearly perfect backspin. His breaking stuff has nasty, vertical action that mirrors his fastball action, and he has pretty good feel for both his curveball and slider; the changeup lags behind. The Diamondbacks will try to develop Nelson as a starter and hope consistency in that role will help him develop viable control/command, which he lacked in the Fall of 2020 as he worked in the 93-96 range. Because of how his fastball works, he need only have crude control of it to be a viable starter, though he’s not yet there. This is a high-ceiling/variance power pitching prospect with a spottier track record than is typical for a recent college draftee. (Fall Instructional League) 12. Tommy Henry, SP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Michigan (ARI) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 50/55 50/55 35/50 88-92 / 93 Henry’s fastball velocity has now had a slow, steady climb from its 87-90 range in 2018, to the 89-92 range during most of his junior year, to anywhere from 90-94 at the 2020 alternate site. He was also pitching with a much shorter arm action at the alt site than he was in 2019. Accentuating components (he generates huge extension, which helps create flatter angle, and his fastball has backspin) already made Henry’s seemingly pedestrian fastball viable, but the new arm action might bolster command and help him avoid the dips in velo he’s sometimes dealt with in the past, when his delivery was uglier and more violent. Even though his arm action is much shorter, Henry’s fastball command is still pretty spotty (which is fine — it’s a vertically-oriented heater) but his feel for locating all of his secondary pitches is much better. His breaking balls include a mid-80s slider and upper-70s curveball that have two distinct shapes. The curveball has more consistent impact depth and sweep than his slider, but he used the slider most often at the alt site. Henry’s changeup is command dependent, and while it’s not always located competitively it’s almost never in the fat part of the zone. Even some of the cambios he mis-releases have accidental cut/slide and can generate awkward swings. I’m a little less scared of injury now that Henry’s arm action has been cleaned up, and his stuff suggests he’s a lower-variance No. 4/5 starter. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 13. Matt Tabor, SP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Milton Academy HS (MA) (ARI) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/55 55/60 35/50 90-93 / 94 Tabor was once again parked in the 90-93 range during 2020 instructs, so while he’s quite athletic and has a good frame, it seems the velocity explosion he experienced late in high school will be the only one he enjoys. Though his arm slot looks like it creates backspin on his heater, his fastball’s spin axis is actually closer to the dreaded 1:30 mark, a no-man’s land for creating movement, but his fastball also has a ton of spin and slightly above-average measured run and rise. I think it’s a viable big league pitch but not an impact one. Instead, Tabor will need to lean on his secondary stuff (and command thereof) to miss big league bats. I’ve seen plus changeups and average breaking balls from Tabor. He’ll need to hit the command grade I have projected for him, but he is tracking like a low-variance No. 4/5 starter. Several arms with greater relief risk (but better stuff) are behind him in this system and might pass him if they prove capable of starting. (Fall Instructional League) 40+ FV Prospects 14. Levi Kelly, MIRP Video Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from IMG Academy HS (FL) (ARI) Age 21.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 45/50 60/70 50/50 45/50 30/40 90-94 / 96 Kelly has a grip-it-and-rip-it style of pitching that fits best in the bullpen, so even though he has a four-pitch mix (headlined by a bastard slider with vertical bite, à la Brad Lidge), I have him projected in a multi-inning relief role. He was up to 96 at the alt site but sat more 90-94 (the same as in 2019, and basically the same since high school) with scattershot control of his fastball, another reason I have him projected in the bullpen. Sometimes that slider comes out of Kelly’s hand high and arcs into the strike zone like a curveball; hitters still can’t touch it. Sometimes it backs up on Kelly and has changeup movement; it doesn’t matter. When executed, it’s a big league out pitch right now. If Kelly’s going to start he either needs to refine his fastball command or mix his stuff more evenly while developing more consistent feel for locating his splitter. His heater isn’t hard enough to live in the zone, and he’ll be punished for his mistakes. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 15. Luis Frías, SIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 55/55 45/50 45/50 50/55 30/40 93-97 / 99 At times, Frías looks like a stiff, velo-only bullpen prospect. At others, he’s competing in or near the zone with four (soon maybe to be three, as his slider was de-emphasized at the alt site) pitches, including a splitter that took a leap in quality in 2019. Frías has a vertical arm slot but his fastball has sink/tail, so it doesn’t blow hitters away at the letters even though Frías throws it 94-98. The curveball has vertical depth and eats up hitters who are cheating on the velo, and it’s a great first-pitch change of pace because of its depth. The movement profile of his fastball may not be the best for missing bats, but it’s likely to be an impact pitch because of the velocity. He could end up with three average secondaries (there’s a chance the split becomes better than that if it keeps improving) and enough strikes to start, making him a potential No. 4/5 starter or late-inning reliever. (Alternate site) 16. Seth Beer, DH Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Clemson (HOU) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/45 60/60 40/55 20/20 30/40 45 Beer was sequestered at the alt site all year so there’s nothing new in his report: I have a source who indicated to me that Beer’s exit velos have been slowly declining since his freshman year at Clemson, and that jives with reports of his overall athleticism and mobility, which have also been in decline since his historic freshman season. It’s an odd athletic trend for someone who was once a decorated amateur swimmer, since swimmers are generally ultra sinewy and lean. It is common for baseball players whose bodies mature early to also start declining early, at least in my anecdotal experience, and this is true of Beer, who was on the scouting radar very early as an old-for-his-grad-year (we really need a word for this) underclassman. Instead of reclassifying and entering the 2015 draft as an 18-year-old, Beer skipped his high school senior year completely and enrolled early at Clemson. He went on to have one of the best freshman years in college baseball history: .369/.535/.700 with 18 homers, 62 walks, and 27 strikeouts. In the few years since, Beer has continued to perform, albeit with his numbers slowly trending down as he reached his draft year at Clemson, then pro ball for a year with Houston before they shipped him to Arizona as part of the Zack Greinke trade. He’s now 24 and has a .294/.388/.508 career line in the minors. He reached Double-A in his first pro season. These are all good signs, and Beer will be a solid big league role player relatively soon. I just can’t speak to what his shelf life will be and don’t think his ceiling is in the Rhys Hoskins/Pete Alonso realm at all. (Alternate site) 17. Wilderd Patino, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (ARI) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 45/55 30/50 60/60 45/55 60 Patino had originally agreed to a deal with Texas, but it was voided due to an elbow injury and he eventually landed with Arizona. Toolsy and physical, Patino has an exciting combination of speed and power, as well as promising ball/strike recognition. What he lacks at this point is barrel control and a bat path that enables the power. Those are important components and may not be easy to fix, especially the bat control issue. But Patino’s ball/strike and breaking ball recognition could help mitigate those issues, and his ceiling (a high OBP center fielder with power) is lofty if they’re overcome. Amateur scouts who picked up 2019 pro coverage the summer after the draft were in awe of Patino, who was the age of most of the guys they had just spent a week discussing in the draft room but more physically gifted than all but a select few of those players. A max-effort player with a fairly mature build, Patino had a rough 2020 instructs from a bat-to-ball perspective, so he slips a little bit in my rankings as those contact issues have not yet been remedied. He’s likely to fall a few levels behind the other toolsy outfielders in this system, similar to the way Jordy Barley fell behind his signing class’ dev track in San Diego. (Fall Instructional League) 18. Jhosmer Alvarez, SIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (ARI) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 50/55 40/45 55/70 35/40 92-96 / 98 Alvarez’s violent delivery is about as scary as his stuff is good. He didn’t pitch much during the 2019 summer due to minor injury, his build is somewhat soft, and he has an awful lot of violence about his head and shoulders through release. He also has promising arm strength for his age, a dandy vulcan changeup (with an average spin rate under 1,000 rpm), and he creates viable shape and depth on his breaking ball, though it’s clearly behind his split. I think he’s more likely to end up in a bullpen than Justin Martinez but I’m more confident in Alvarez’s stuff playing, and think he has a better chance to be an impact piece even if that’s in a relief role. (Fall Instructional League) 19. Justin Martinez, SP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 45/50 40/50 30/50 92-96 / 98 There’s no change here, as Martinez looked the same during 2020 instructs as he did in 2019: During the spring of 2019, there was backfield gossip that the D-backs had a hard-throwing righty in the DSL who we might see in Arizona before the summer was through. On the day before his 18th birthday, Martinez threw an inning of AZL ball and bumped 98 on the Chase Field radar gun. Perhaps more surprising than the velocity, which we had been primed to see, was how well Martinez executed his breaking ball over his next couple of outings. It’s only an average tweener breaking ball right now, but he consistently located it down and away from righties, enticing them to flail at it as it disappeared in the dirt. I saw some average changeups, as well. His fastball control is certainly raw, and while Martinez has a strong, projectable frame, his arm action is somewhat odd, with less external rotation going on than you see with most elite velo guys. The D-backs need to work on getting Martinez behind the baseball so his fastball doesn’t have cut action (it’s not enough cut to be impactful, it’s just running into barrels, as you can see on our high speed video of Martinez) and instead has ride. That should come with time. Were Martinez draft-eligible, he’d go somewhere in the second round. (Fall Instructional League) 20. Manuel Peña, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 17.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/60 25/55 45/40 40/50 50 Peña is a physical, big-framed third base prospect with a good-looking swing and Arizona’s most exciting 2021 international signee. He’s shown an ability to pull his hands in and hit inside pitches for power, he’s short to the ball but has lift in his swing, and he presents an interesting combination of present physicality (which might enable him to move quickly through the lower levels of the minors) and body projection (which might enable him to grow into power). (International signee) 40 FV Prospects 21. J.B. Bukauskas, SIRP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from North Carolina (HOU) Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 196 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 45/45 70/70 40/40 92-94 / 96 Bukauskas no longer has the high-end velocity he did at his prospect peak, when he’d routinely creep into the 97-99 range with his fastball, which was one of four plus pitches he had at the time. He now sits about 92-95 and was only up to 94 at the 2020 alternate site, sitting about 91. His velo appears to be back at least a little bit, as he’s been parked at 94-95 in his first few 2021 spring training outings. His upper-80s changeup has hellacious tailing action and is a 70-grade pitch, while his slider is short and lacks vertical drop. There’s impact relief potential here, 40+ FV type of stuff, especially if the velo is not only back but keeps climbing. But I’m rounding down based on Bukauskas’ injury history. (Alternate site) 22. Conor Grammes, SIRP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Xavier (ARI) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 65/70 60/70 40/45 20/30 94-97 / 99 Grammes has two 70-grade pitches in his upper-90s fastball and slider but was so comically raw as a college strike-thrower that he slid all the way to the fifth round of the 2019 draft. He’s athletic and played two ways in college, and at the time, it seemed possible pro development might make his strike-throwing more consistent and enable him to work in an high-leverage bullpen role. Well, it looks as though that started to occur in the Fall of 2020. Grammes’ body has started to mature and he’s got better feel for release now than he did at Xavier, though he’s not as balanced over his front side and his lower half has gotten a little stiffer. Grammes has 40+ stuff but I’d like to see an extended stretch of viable strike-throwing before moving him into a tier with guys whose ability to pitch I feel better about. (Fall Instructional League) 23. Stuart Fairchild, CF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Wake Forest (CIN) Age 25.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 50/50 35/45 55/55 50/50 60 Fairchild’s been able to hit the ball in the air more consistently as his swing’s lower half usage has become more athletic over time. Once extremely stationary, he now has a slow, but small leg kick and is loading his hands deeper than he was while first with the Reds. His groundball rate has dropped from 50% during his first pro season, to 40% during the first half of 2018, to the 30-37% range in the three half-seasons since then, and somehow his strikeout rate dropped all the way to 12% during his 2019 six-week stint at Double-A Chattanooga. Those trends caused me to 40+ FV Fairchild last year, as it seemed he had a shot to have a 2020 breakout, but continued looks have me skeptical about his ability to handle offspeed and breaking stuff. Fairchild’s still got big league quality pop/defensive ability in center field, but he’s likely a part-time player suited to face lefties and guys who throw lots of fastballs. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 24. Jeferson Espinal, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 18.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/45 20/40 60/60 45/60 45 Espinal is built like a human sports car, chiseled and square-shouldered. He runs like one, too, and may be a plus defender in center field at peak. He has crude feel for slasher-style contact right now, and the way his style and quality of contact develop will dictate what kind of role he’s capable of playing. Right now, he swings and hits like a tweener, but he’s so young that his physical abilities, which are loud, matter much more at this stage. He’s a talented, long-term developmental piece. (Fall Instructional League) 25. Andy Young, 2B Video Drafted: 37th Round, 2016 from Indiana State (STL) Age 26.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/45 55/55 45/50 40/40 40/40 50 Young is a heavy-footed infielder with thump and viable feel for contact, but rather than projecting him to play a viable second base as I have in the past, he now looks more like a 3B/LF sort, so he slides from the 40+ tier into the 40s this year. Though he does most of his damage on pitches on the inner half, Young has enough barrel control to spoil pitches away from him until he gets something he can square up. When Young connects, he does so with power. Buff and square-shouldered, Young’s physicality is a driving component of his power but it’s also why he’s limited defensively. A 40 role-playing bat is a great outcome for a 37th rounder who signed for $3,000. (Alternate site, MLB) 26. A.J. Vukovich, 1B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from East Troy HS (WI) (ARI) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 60/70 25/55 30/20 35/45 55 The Diamondbacks played Vukovich at third base in the Fall but, as I did pre-draft, I have him projected to first. He looked more mobile and athletic during 2020 instructs than he did on the high school showcase circuit, but still doesn’t have the athleticism to make all the plays necessary to stay at the hot corner in my opinion. He does have giant raw power, though, and while his swing isn’t pretty he does have feel for the barrel, and even though he’s a big guy, he’s tough to beat on the inner half. He and Castillo have a similarly steep hill to climb and I prefer Castillo’s athleticism and frame projection to Vukovich’s. (Fall Instructional League) 27. Taylor Widener, SP Video Drafted: 12th Round, 2016 from South Carolina (NYY) Age 26.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops 40/40 45/45 60/60 50/50 50/55 91-96 / 98 After it was down in 2019, Widener’s average fastball velocity bounced back and was up two and a half ticks versus his 2019 mark. He also seemed to get some of the cut out of his fastball early during the 2020 season but it crept back into his fastball’s movement later in the year. The velo bounce back and Widener’s feel for locating his secondary stuff so consistently (his changeup is his best pitch) makes him a low-variance fifth starter even though I’m scared of his fastball’s movement profile. (Alternate site, MLB) 28. Humberto Mejía, MIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Panama (MIA) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 45/45 55/55 40/45 40/45 90-93 / 95 Mejía was a bit behind the developmental curve as a 23-year-old who had only thrown 23 innings above Low-A but his four-pitch mix was good enough for Miami to add him to their 40-man and for Arizona to later acquire him in the bath they took on Starling Marte. Mejía has four viable big league pitches and throws enough strikes to start even though he lacks elegant and precise command, especially of his fastball, which too often lived middle-middle during his 2020 big league debut. He’s a high-probably fifth starter. (Alternate site, MLB) 29. Jon Duplantier, SP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Rice (ARI) Age 26.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/40 55/55 50/50 50/55 50/55 91-94 / 96 Duplantier had been injury-free since college (where he dealt with shoulder problems) until 2018, when he had hamstring issues in the spring, and biceps tendinitis later in the summer. The lost innings resulted in an Arizona Fall League stint, during which Duplantier was one of the better pitching prospects in the league. Despite the biceps issue, his velocity was fine in the Fall, when he sat 93-96 and showed three good, clearly demarcated secondary pitches. Then 2019 came. Dup’s stuff was not as crisp during the spring, and he was shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues several times; he had a shoulder issue in the middle of the summer and his stuff was down again later in the year. I have nothing on him from Arizona’s alt site and I’m not even sure if he pitched there. He sat 91 in his first 2021 spring start. With that kind of velo, he’s more likely a fifth starter. (Alternate site) 30. Alvin Guzman, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 19.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 45/55 20/50 60/60 40/55 70 There’s no change here, as Guzman did not come stateside for instructs: Reports from a couple of sources who saw Guzman in the DR during the 2019 summer were concerning. They described an elite athlete with an elite frame who had no idea how to hit, both from a swing efficacy and pitch recognition standpoint. That Guzman was passed over for a late-summer promotion to the U.S. is also telling. He’s too physically gifted to come off of entirely, but his first pro summer was erratic. (DR Instructs) 31. Liam Norris, SP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Green Hope HS (NC) (ARI) Age 19.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 45/50 50/55 30/40 20/45 90-94 / 95 The Diamondbacks have taken upper six-figure fliers on a couple high schoolers with vertically-oriented arm slots over the last two years in Avery Short and Norris, who has a low-90s fastball and a 12-6 curveball with promising depth. Norris is a softer-bodied reverse projection candidate who has heightened relief risk due to mechanical inconsistency. His longer developmental runway has me projecting him as a starter for now, but he’s just as raw as lots of the older pitchers in the 35+ tier. (Fall Instructional League) 32. Matt Peacock, MIRP Drafted: 23th Round, 2017 from South Alabama (ARI) Age 27.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 45/50 50/55 45/45 90-94 / 95 Peacock has a heavy, low-90s sinker (he was 92-94 for me in the Fall) that enabled him to generate a 68% groundball rate in 2019. His slider has a 2800 rpm spin rate and is hard at 86-89, but visual evaluations of that pitch put it closer to average. His changeup moves and tails; at times it’s plus, at others it’s easy to identify out of his hand due to altered release/arm speed. On one level, Peacock is a one-pitch 25-year-old, but on another, he has a dominant, grounder-inducing fastball and his secondaries have some characteristics that may just need to be refined for one or both of them to be effective. He projects as an middle reliever. (Fall Instructional League) 33. Neyfy Castillo, 1B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 20.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/60 35/55 45/40 40/50 45 There’s no change here. I saw a few games late in the Fall Castillo entered late, but he was left on deck at the end of games a couple of times and I only saw one at-bat: This is probably a right-hitting first baseman in the end, and Castillo’s frame is not as projectable as his measurables might indicate, but he’s young, already has sizable raw thump, and is quite athletic for how big he is. He’s also shown all-fields, in-game power and has surprising straight-line speed for his size. He’s clearly a tier below the Luken Baker type of high school hitter (who would be a 40+ or 45 FV type of prospect), but better than the heavy-footed mashers who beat up on their smaller peers in the lower minors. (Fall Instructional League) 34. Josh Green, SP Video Drafted: 14th Round, 2018 from Southeastern Louisiana (ARI) Age 25.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/50 45/50 45/55 45/50 92-95 / 96 Green was a 14th-round senior sign in 2019 and like most senior signs, had 45/50 stuff in college. He was 90-94 with two average breaking balls and had little college experience because he didn’t move into the rotation until his senior season. Last spring, Green’s stuff was up — touching 96 with big sink (he had a 67% GB%), and flashing plus secondaries — for a while before coming back to Earth during the summer after he returned from biceps tendinitis. He projects as a sinkerballing fifth starter or up/down relief type similar to Peacock, just a few levels behind. (Fall Instructional League) 35+ FV Prospects 35. Dominic Fletcher, RF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Arkansas (ARI) Age 23.5 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 50/50 40/45 45/40 50/55 55 Fletcher was a tweener outfielder as a SoCal high school prospect. He matriculated to Arkansas, where he slowed down a bit but grew into more power than expected. He still has a slasher-style swing and has some strikeout issues driven by a rather indiscriminate approach. Fletcher looks different when you see him back-to-back-to-back in the same instructs lineup as guys like Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll, who are both more athletic and explosive than Fletcher and also have a better approach. There’s still 40 FV ceiling here but I’m weary of corner guys who swing this much. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 36. Blaze Alexander, SS Video Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from IMG Academy HS (FL) (ARI) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/55 30/40 45/40 45/50 80 Alexander fell out of the top 10 rounds of the 2018 draft due to questions about his signability, hit tool, and age relative to his peers. He was almost 19 on draft day, which, combined with the strikeout issues, moved him way down the boards of teams that care about those variables, especially together. He ended up signing for a very reasonable $500,000. At the time, he was seen as an advanced defender with an 80 arm (the teams most bearish on his bat in high school wanted to see him on the mound) and above-average raw power, which Alexander’s pre-daft proponents insisted he’d get to despite the strikeouts. Pro scouts who saw Blaze in 2019 did not quite drop a 55 on the power (which is supported by his TrackMan data) and called him “streaky,” which they perceived to be caused by lapses in focus. (Fall Instructional League) 37. Eduardo Herrera, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (ARI) Age 21.2 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Sits/Tops 60/70 45/50 94-96 / 97 In the last year or so, the D-backs have tried more former position players on the mound than almost all of the orgs we monitor in Arizona, and Herrera is one such player. He signed as a catcher, then quickly moved to third, and finally to the mound in his third pro season. His fastball was 94-97 almost immediately and held that range at 2020 instructs, averaging 94.8 mph. He has erratic command and breaking ball quality, but Herrera is still a notable developmental relief prospect with premium arm strength. (Fall Instructional League) 38. Buddy Kennedy, 3B Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Millville HS (NJ) (ARI) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 50/50 35/45 35/30 30/40 50 I like Kennedy’s feel for contact but his mobility and athleticism limit him to third base, at best. He has a catcherly build and I think his best chance to profile as any kind of big leaguer is to convert. (Fall Instructional League) 39. Junior Mieses, SIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Splitter Command Sits/Tops 45/55 45/50 45/55 30/45 90-93 / 95 There’s no change to Mieses’ report, as he was not on the instructs roster: Mieses displays impressive flexibility and rotation in his shoulder and upper back, which helps enable his fastball to peak in the mid-90s. His delivery has some stop and start elements that can disrupt his timing and release point, which creates reliever risk, but the three-pitch mix has projection commensurate with a No. 4/5 starter. (At-home dev) 40. Glenallen Hill Jr., 2B Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Santa Cruz HS (CA) (ARI) Age 20.4 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 45/50 30/50 70/70 30/45 45 There’s no change here. Hill is the type of player who was likely hurt by the lack of a 2020 minor league season because he’s the kind of prospect who badly needs reps to try to polish his baseball skills: A tooled-up ball of clay, Hill needs to be sculpted by player development. He is ultra-twitchy, has plus bat speed and surprising opposite-field power, and can absolutely fly, but he’s raw as a hitter and defender. They’ll try him at second base but the outfield is a long-term possibility. (Fall Instructional League) 41. Bobby Ay, SIRP Drafted: 9th Round, 2019 from Cal Poly (ARI) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 40/50 50/60 40/45 40/50 90-92 / 93 There’s no change to Ay’s report: The physical manifestation of a Henry Winkler catchphrase, Ay was an interesting 2019 sleeper who missed almost all of his 2018 college season due to injury, and generally threw few innings in college. He has a fast, efficient arm action and can spin a breaking ball. He might break out on a pro development program. (At-home dev) 42. West Tunnell, SIRP Drafted: 0 Round, 2016 from Baylor (ARI) Age 27.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 35/40 93-96 / 97 There’s no change here: Tunnell remains an interesting older sleeper. He played the middle infield at Baylor and didn’t step on a mound until after the D-backs signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2016. As you might expect, he’s raw for a 27-year-old, but Tunnell has only recently developed real stuff. He was topping out at 92 mph during some of his 2018 outings, but now sits 93-96 with premium spin and a ball axis that creates vertical movement. He’s older, but I think he has a shot. (At-home dev) 43. Matt Mercer, SIRP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2018 from Oregon (ARI) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 40/40 45/45 55/55 40/40 88-93 / 96 Mercer had Tommy John around the start of the new year and will miss all of 2021. He was a max-effort 94-97 in college, and had scattershot fastball command and a plus changeup. His velo was down in 2019 (I have him peaking at 96 but averaging 91-92), and neither of his two breaking balls is especially sharp, though they do have vertical action. I think he’s a Tyler Clippard-style changeup reliever so long as the velocity returns. (Injured) 44. Avery Short, SP Video Drafted: 12th Round, 2019 from Southport HS (IN) (ARI) Age 20.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/40 45/50 45/50 30/45 25/60 88-92 / 93 Short is a relatively unprojectable pitchability lefty with a vertical arm slot. Based on some of the other pro and amateur acquisitions the D-backs have made, some combination of this type of arm slot, the spin direction it helps create, and the approach angle of the pitch seem to be important to them. Short got a $922,500 bonus to sign instead of heading to Louisville. He was 86-89 in my Fall 2020 look, but had great feel for locating his slider (79-81) and changeup (76-78). Even if he only develops a little more velocity, he has an out as a pitchability fifth starter. (Fall Instructional League) 45. Edinson Soto, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Sits/Tops 50/55 45/55 50/55 92-95 / 96 There’s no change here as Soto did not come stateside for instructs: 2019 was the first year in pro ball for Soto, and I don’t know why or where he came from; MiLB.com’s player page doesn’t even have his signing date in their transaction log. He was a pretty wild then-23-year-old in the DSL, but Soto’s lean, athletic build, his arm strength, and his ability to spin a breaking ball are such that he needs to be on our radar, especially considering how little he has pitched. (At-home dev) 46. Luis Castillo, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 26.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/50 55/55 50/50 90-92 / 94 Castillo is a low-slot slinger who lives in the 92-94 mph range with tail and who has an above-average changeup. His breaking ball plays against righties because of his slot and Castillo’s ability to execute it consistently. He’s a low-leverage “look” reliever. (LIDOM, Serie del Caribe) Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. More Potential Bench Pieces Domingo Leyba, 2B Jake McCarthy, LF Jorge Barrosa, CF Drew Ellis, 1B Jose Herrera, C Eduardo Diaz, RF Leyba is a switch-hitting, shift-aided infielder who is artificially difficult to beat with velo because his levers are so short, but his feel to hit is pretty average. There are players with more pop who play the role he could now. McCarthy was given a swing similar to Alek Thomas’ but I don’t think he’s athletic enough to maintain it the way Thomas is, even though it’s better than before. Barrosa is a switch-hitter with some speed and advanced feel for contact. Ellis is a power-over-hit first base type who might rake overseas. Herrera, 24, is a switch-hitting catcher who I liked when he was 19 and 20. He’s been hurt a lot but merits a watchful eye as a viable 40-man depth sort. Diaz had a huge Pioneer League line and has a collection of average tools undercut by a bad approach. International Signees Franyel Baez, OF Diomede Sierra, LHP Jose Curpa, CF Leodany Perez, CF Ronny Simon, 3B Arizona’s international department has done a better job since the club’s regime change, and they’re pretty clearly attracted to a couple buckets of players. Baez was the club’s top 2019 signee at a cool $1 million, and he’s the most likely of the Honorable Mentions to appear on the main section of the list if he looks good during extended. He’s a switch hitter with a tall, square-shouldered, wiry frame. Several of the club’s top July 2 prospects the last several years have had this kind of build. Curpa and Perez are tiny, 70 runners (at least, Curpa shows you 80 run times now and then) with some bat-to-ball ability, an archetype also seen throughout the system, and not just from the international pool (Thomas, Carroll, Barrosa, Espinal if you squint at the hit tool). Simon was acquired from the Cubs for Andrew Chafin. He’s a switch-hitter with feel for contact who performed in the 2019 DSL, when he repeated the level. Sierra is a loose, semi-projectable sinkerballer who I have up to 95, sitting 87-92, with slider feel. My notes on him as an amateur had him 88-90, up to 91. He’s got a traditional, three-quarters delivery, which makes him unlike most of the other arms in the system who are… Vertical Arm Slot Guys Junior Garcia, LHP Ryan Weiss, RHP Yaramil Hiraldo, RHP Based on the pitchers Arizona has acquired in the draft and via trade, it’s clear this org is on the vertical movement/approach angle bandwagon. Guys with more vertical arm slots are naturally a little better at creating something approaching pure backspin on their fastballs, and they often work at a tough angle near the top of the strike zone. Zac Gallen’s obviously not eligible for this list, but he’s another pitcher with a fastball spin axis similar to the ones listed here. There are others who have passed through the system, too. Tyler Mark, Jose Almonte, Emilio Vargas, Bo Takahashi, and Mason McCullough are some other guys who’ve been on this section of a Diamondbacks list at some point in the recent past. Garcia, 25, now has three consecutive years of missing bats at a 30% clip out of the bullpen. His arm slot wanders a little but when he’s staying north/south, it’s tough to tell his fastball and breaking ball apart. Weiss is a four-pitch (maybe five — there might be both a slider and a cutter) strike-thrower with a trebuchet delivery. He also projects as an up/down arm. Hiraldo sits 91-94, touches 95, and he’ll flash an occasionally good changeup. A Carrying Tool (or Weird Trait) Tyler Holton, LHP Harrison Francis, RHP Tristin English, 3B Justin Lewis, RHP Holton blew out his elbow in his first 2018 start at Florida State and needed Tommy John. He was only throwing 87-90 before the injury, but both his changeup and breaking ball were flashing plus. His velo was still 86-90ish when he came back and remained in the upper-80s in the Fall of 2020, but the secondaries are good and he can really pitch. Francis was hurt in 2019 but had one of the best changeups in the org before he went down. English was a two-way player at Georgia Tech. He’ll be run out as a third baseman with big arm strength (duh) and some pop. Something may click now that he’s focused solely on hitting. Lewis is built like a construction crane at a long-limbed 6-foot-7, which creates weird angle on his pitches. He also has a good change. System Overview Arizona’s 2019 draft represents perhaps the best few days of minor league talent acquisition a team has had in the last decade. That group represents about 25% of the main section of the list, and that’s with Brennan Malone having already been traded. The Diamondbacks have, on the surface, straddled the traditional definition of the buyer/seller line over the last couple of years and have dealt away guys like Zack Greinke while signing the likes of Madison Bumgarner, and trading for Starling Marte only to move him months later. I think they’re looking at things differently than on the usual contender/rebuild spectrum and instead are willing to move a big leaguer or prospect when their trade partner or the industry at large think more highly of the player in question than they do. I think that was at play with the Jazz Chisholm/Zac Gallen deal, especially. As with the Rays, the players the D-backs ship away have had questionable approaches. I mentioned earlier in this post how fixated on backspinning heaters the org seems to be, and while I think this approach makes good sense in general, there are also $1 million high school hitters who I’d rather take fliers on than guys like Short and Norris for the same amount of pool space. Look for Arizona to start to lean on platoons and defensive flexibility at the positions that aren’t occupied by stars like Ketel Marte. They have so many pitching prospects creeping toward the upper levels that viable backend types like Merrill Kelly, and one-year stopgap types like the ultra-consistent Joakim Soria, Tyler Clippard, and Asdrúbal Cabrera could be interesting 2021 deadline pieces. This is poised to be one of the better systems in baseball for at least the next couple of years as none of the top talent is close to graduating off the list, the D-backs are not yet in the full-on contender mode that will likely see them deal prospects, and the system is likely to add a top 100 prospect (or close to it) with the sixth overall pick in July’s draft.