The temperature reads 23 degrees as I write this sentence, so Arizona sounds pretty great to me right now. The high for Sunday (today) is 82.
That’s probably cold comfort for Diamondbacks fans, who find their club somewhat adrift at the tail end of a tough 2020 after a promising 2019 and even more promising off-season that saw them sign Kole Calhoun and acquire Starling Marte via trade. This system is deep in potential everyday players and starting pitchers, so I suspect this current downturn could be brief.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2021 | Highest level played | ETA
1. OF Kristian Robinson | 20 | A | 2023
If you wanted to build a snowman center fielder in a lab, I’d introduce you to my good friend, Doctor Moreau, who might invite you to his island, which, while perhaps not the world’s safest place would be somewhat shielded from covid. Then I might suggest Kristian Robinson as a physical model for a center-fielding baseball player. I’d be willing to bet he winds up King of that island after a couple hours. He’s listed at 6’3” 190, and that seems fair. His hips explode through the zone on his swing, and he runs like the wind. People have projected he’d lose speed as he aged, but I think that’s more paint-by-numbers projection than anything I’d buy stock in. Most guys do lose speed as they fill out and age and build up to their man strength. K-Rob is more wide receiver than linebacker though, and I think he’ll stay svelte and fast throughout his early prime. True 30/30 potential with the kind of bat speed that should allow him to hit for average.
2. OF Corbin Carroll | 20 | A- | 2023
Give yourself a moment to send an offer out for Corbin Carroll. He had some hype for a minute before this minor league season shutdown, but he’s still toward the back end of most top hundred lists.
Just because it gave me a smirk, here’s what I wrote about Carroll on last year’s list, “I could definitely see myself caroling with Corbin this Christmas. He figures to fall outside the top five in most First-Year-Player drafts in dynasty leagues, and I think that’s that windfall profit born from a phat draft class. Man, I haven’t seen phat in a long time. What happened to phat? Anywho, Corbin Caroll is skinny and brings plus-plus speed along with a plus hit tool and burgeoning power. His outstanding professional debut gave us a taste of his elite fantasy profile.”
3. SS Geraldo Perdomo | 21 | A+ | 2022
Perdomo got a lot of well-deserved love for being among the youngest players to hold his own in 2019’s Arizona Fall League. He reminds of a young Robinson Cano for the way he stands right on the top of the plate and uses that angle to his advantage, working deep counts and walking as much or more than he strikes out. It’s a little unfathomable that as a 19-year-old in High A, he walked 12.3 percent of the time while striking out in just 9.6 percent of his 114 plate appearances. This came after he split Ks and BBs right down the middle in A ball at 14.5 percent. He might have to get a little more aggressive in his approach as he gets attacked in the zone at the higher levels, but if ain’t broke . . . .
4. OF Alek Thomas | 20 | A+ | Late 2021
A muscular 5’11” spark plug who’s always been younger than his average competitor, Thomas is a valued piece in the dynasty game. He’s got a 60 grade hit tool according to several outlets, but that’s a bit strong for me. I think he’s closer to bringing 50s across the board than he is to actualizing plus speed, power or hit tools at the top levels. He probably doesn’t have the arm for center field or right, and if he’s a left-only type who can fake center in a pinch, he could struggle to break into a crowded outfield picture.
5. LHP Blake Walston | 19 | A | 2023
Walston saw a velocity bump late in the draft process and another one after being selected 26th overall out of high school in 2019. This is the way, and it’s just one reason this three-pitch southpaw has my endorsement. Another is his doubleplus curveball, but the primary reason I’m here for Walston is the potential for plus command and maybe even another tick or two of velocity as he fills out and refines his base mechanics. I can see a case for preferring Corbin Martin who’s much closer, but we still haven’t seen him throw in a game since his Tommy John surgery, and I’ll take the young lefty in that scenario.
6. RHP Corbin Martin | 24 | MLB | 2019
As mentioned above, Martin was expendable in Houston partly due to his elbow injury. It’s tough to know what went on behind closed doors, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he was the key return for Zack Greinke in the minds of Arizona evaluators. Well, that and the salary relief. When he’s on, Martin features four average or better pitches, headlined by a plus fastball he uses aggressively all over the zone. His slider, curveball and changeup can all work in concert with his heater, which combines with his competitive fire to give him a little better upside than one might think at a glance.
7. OF Wilderd Patiño | 19 | R | 2024
The quality of Patiño’s swings can vary from at bat to at bat, but he’s a fantastic athlete who could stick in centerfield. Patiño has a bit more physical projection left in his frame than the next guy and is a notch higher on the organizational ladder, having finished 2019 as a 17-year-old in the Pioneer League after graduating from the Arizona League. To restate, he hit .349/.403/.472 in Arizona as a 17-year-old facing his first stateside competition. Fun stuff.
8. OF Jeferson Espinal | 18 | R | 2024
Espinal brings sort of a mini Kristian Robinson starter kit from the left side. He lacks the core explosiveness and pull power of K-Rob, but he’s muscular for a youngster and strong enough to find some thump with experience. He’s a little late and oppo-focused right now, but that seems to be part of this development team’s process, so I hate to ding him if he’s just following the mandate to take his walks because that’s what will get him promoted the fastest.
9. 1B OF Seth Beer | 24 | AA | 2021
If Beer were looking frothy at the training site, I think we’d have gotten a taste in 2020. This thought gives me some pause including him here, but the universal DH is still on the table, perhaps even likely if you believe a word from Rob Manfred’s mouth, and that’s too neat a fit for Beer’s profile to ignore. He’s not much of a defender, but until his one-month run with Arizona’s AA club, he’d always produced with the bat. My worry is he’s not a great athlete and might not have the raw hand speed or core explosion to keep up with elite spin. I think first-round pick RHP Bryce Jarvis warrants a spot coming off a dominant four starts as a Junior at Duke, but I’ll consider him 9.5 so I can mention this next guy for 2021 fantasy purposes.
10. OF Stuart Fairchild | 25 | AA | 2021
Though he may not be an elite in any one area, Fairchild is a balanced prospect with average or better tools across the board. He’s good enough with the glove to stay in center and has demonstrated an ability to draw his walks while limiting his strikeouts, which as I said in the Espinal blip, is too systematic within the Arizona ranks to be a coincidence. His 10.6/12.8 K/BB percentage in AA as a 23 year old is surely among the reasons Diamondback brass targeted him in the Archie Bradley trade. He makes for an interesting draft-and-hold play and should be snapped up in any deepish dynasty leagues where he’s available in the first-year-player draft.
PS: This spot almost went to RHP Luis Frias, who I’ve written about a lot in these pages and am betting on in the long-term.
PPS: Daulton Varsho was called up before August 14 and is no longer prospect eligible, according to MLB’s efforts to numberwang us.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.