Like some early critics who didn’t realize Dune was Dune, Part One until they’d been sitting there for a while, Arizona’s front office did not realize they were in a rebuild until they’d been molting for much of 2021. The pandemic hit this team hard. Talented international teeny boppers spent prime development days stuck in the bubble, which didn’t mean they couldn’t cause any trouble. Kristian Robinson struggled–and who didn’t my heart goes out to him–and found himself living life on the highway and wanting to ride it all night long. Baseball futures in search of desert power suffered another spice drought early in 2021 when wunderkind Corbin Carroll got his shoulder sliced in half by a Saudaukar, or separated on a swing. I can’t remember which. Spice is strong in these parts. Let’s breathe it in a little and imagine the possibilities. This is actually a very good system. Don’t mind the monster worm barreling down on us. Let’s just breathe and dream with the sand and wind for a minute. 


Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA

1. OF Corbin Carroll | 21 | A+ | 2023 

The chosen one. What else could we say? At 5’10” 165 lbs, Carroll is the rare Mookie Betts type dynamo who is truly plus everything when the lights go on. He hit two home runs and stole three bases in just seven games in 2021 and projects to be a roto gawd bah gawd whenever he gets off the mat from that season-ending shoulder injury.


2. OF Alek Thomas | 21 | AAA | 2022

Can’t believe this guy’s 21 until April 28. Feels like he’s been in my life since I was born, but that’s mostly because our timelines merged in the sense that I started this gig around the time he started sifting sands on Arrakis. In 106 games across two levels (AA and AAA), Thomas hit 18 homers and swiped 13 bags. He slugged .658 and hit eight of those home runs in 34 games in the late summer at Reno, which does fog the reality to some degree. We’re probably looking at a 15/15 .280 type when he’s firing on all cylinders.


3. SS Jordan Lawlar | 19 | CPX | 2025

The sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, Lawlar might’ve gone first if baseball made any sense. He’s a 6’2” 190 lb righty that nobody has any real questions about, by which I mean everyone who’s ever seen him believes he’ll hit all the way up. He’s also got the physical gifts to help us in all five categories at peak. His season ended, like Carroll’s, with a shoulder injury. Might be a buying opportunity for the patient in this year’s First-Year-Player Draft. This group has received some negative buzz, so I suspect you could move up in the draft with relative ease if Lawlar starts sliding.


4. 1B Seth Beer | 25 | MLB | 2021

The Universal Designated Hitter was made for Beer, in more ways than one. I think he’s a better defender than he appears to be at first glance and a little more athletic than reports suggest, but that might be the beer talking. He too dislocated his shoulder this year, but his injury happened in September, so he’ll miss the off-season, in the body-sculpting, swing-developing sense. He played well in AAA last year, slashing .287/.398/.511 with 16 HR and a 17.5 percent strikeout rate in 100 games. Feels like a moving target at the moment, trying to get any kind of read on what we’ll see from Beer as a big leaguer. I’m feeling optimistic at the moment, but it’s hard to separate that from the fact that I think now is a good time to buy in while the general murmur around Beer is lukewarm.


5. OF Kristian Robinson | 21 | A | 2023

The saga of K-Rob should reach some kind of turning point in the coming months. We won’t know how the mental health piece is coming along, but we should find out by next Spring if he can play baseball while on probation for assaulting a highway patrol officer.

Click here for the story from beat writer Nick Piecoro

At his best, Robinson is a plus-everything athlete who looks born to play the game. He’s a 6’3” 190 lb wide receiver type who rotates like Luis Robert, who makes for a decent fantasy comp. Outfielders with 30/30 topside come along less often than big budget films as good as Dune, so if you’re in a long-term rebuild or have the roster space and patience to wait, Robinson could provide real desert power to the believers.


6. 3B AJ Vukovich | 20 | A+ | 2023

At 6’5 210 lbs with a puncher’s chance to stay at third base, Vukovich is a better fantasy prospect than a real-baseball list might indicate. He’d be a slow-footed left fielder or a right-right first baseman if he can’t hang at the hot corner. Or, you know, a DH, in a less ludicrous world. His double-plus power brings with it some strikeouts, but nothing egregious for a guy much younger than his competitors. On the season, he slashed .272/.320/.446 with 13 HR and 16 steals. Traded some power for contact at High-A, where he was 3.8 years younger than the average but hit .298 with 3 HR in 30 games. I wouldn’t be surprised if he opens the season in AA about half a decade younger than the average player there.


7. LHP Blake Walston | 20 | A+ | 2023

I might have Walston higher than his outcomes merit for a while because lefties with his level of stuff tend to become aces if they actualize, and Arizona has been aggressive with his assignments, getting him to the precipice of AA as a 20-year-old, where I suspect he’ll open 2022 after holding his own for 52.1 innings at High-A (4.13 ERA, 1.30 WHIP). When I let the dream sizzle, I can imagine the curveball becoming a dominant pitch paired with a fastball he’s spotting across the top of the zone, something like a 55 percent fastball, 35 percent curve nasty mix with 10 percent change. He’s young enough that he could go any number of paths, aided by the fact that he’s 6’5” with good extension and balance in his delivery.


8. RHP Drey Jameson | 24 | AA | 2023

All Jameson’s pitches are good. His curveball is plus, and he makes the most of his 6’165 lb frame in that all his stuff tunnels well together. He’s athletic in his delivery and repeats well enough that we can expect his command to improve across time. His 35.1 K% in 46.1 innings at AA is encouraging, as is the 25.8% K-BB rate. He might always be a bit homer-prone thanks to his height and attack angles.


9. RHP Ryne Nelson | 24 | AA | 2023

Don’t let the ranking here fool you: I’m way into Ryne Nelson, and not just because my mom was a big Ryne Sandberg fan, and I read his autobiography during a series of detentions when I was in junior high, but also because Nelson was a two-way player at Clemson, and it’s easy to see that athleticism manifesting in continued development on the mound throughout his pro career, when he has much more time to focus on the singular, intricate craft of pitching. He throws in the high nineties and gets easy whiffs atop the strike zone, as demonstrated in his 32.9 percent strikeout rate across 77 innings in AA.


10. 3B Deyvison De Los Santos | 18 | A | 2025

A 6’1” 185 lb right handed hitter straight out of central casting, De Los Santos might’ve gotten scooped up in your deepish dynasty leagues last year, particularly if transactions remained open through September. Over his final 22 games in full-season A ball, De Los Santos hit .315 with 3 HR and 1 SB–nothing to blow your top about but enough to lock in an impressive debut season in which he slashed .295/.370/.489 slash line with 8 HR and 3 SB in 62 games across two levels. Good time to buy if you can.


Next six because they matter to our game and all have a case to be higher on the list: 

11. RHP Bryce Jarvis | 24 | AA | 2023

12. OF Stuart Fairchild | 26 | MLB | 2021

13. RHP Slade Cecconi | 22 | A+ | 2023

14. SS Geraldo Perdomo | 22 | MLB | 2021

15. RHP Luis Frias | 23 | MLB | 2021

16. 3B Manuel Peña | 17 | NA | 2026

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.