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Arizona Diamondbacks

I continue to be impressed with the Diamondbacks minor league system.  Alek Thomas, Corbin Carroll, and Kristian Robinson rank one through three in the organization.  While I have Thomas number one, each player can lay claim to the top spot.  Robinson has the highest upside but is also the furthest away.  I also like Geraldo Perdomo a lot a dynamic leadoff threat.  There’s a question as to how much power he will develop but there is a ton to get excited about.

Assuming Corbin Martin comes back healthy, I still believe he could be a number two starter in the big leagues.  He is recovering from TJ Surgery but the stuff is plus and before his injury, could control the strike zone.  While others might be high on Jon Duplantier and JB Bukauskas, I see them both as bullpen arms that could help the Diamondbacks as early as 2021.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Alek Thomas
  • Biggest Mover: Geraldo Perdomo
  • Emerging Prospect: Wilderd Patino

1. Alek Thomas (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 202 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: 20-20 potential with the ability to hit.  Significant upside.

Alek Thomas was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft.  He’s a plus runner with good bat speed and a chance to get on-base at a high rate.  In 170 games in the minor leagues, he’s slashed .312/.385/.455 with 12 home runs and 27 stolen bases.  He just turned 20 last April and is still a work-in-progress.  However, the ceiling is a 20-20 performer who should be able to post a high average and on-base percentage.  He’ll likely split his time in 2021 between High and Double-A.

2. Corbin Carroll (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: 20-20 upside with an idea at the plate.  There is Andrew Benintendi type of upside with Carroll.

Corbin Carroll was the Diamondbacks first pick (#16) in the 2019 MLB Draft.  He’s a double-plus runner with good bat speed and an approach that should allow him to hit.  In his first taste of professional baseball, he flashed intriguing skills.  In 42 games across rookie two-levels of rookie ball, he slashed .299/.409/.487 two home runs and 18 stolen bases.  He’s struck out more than I would have liked (21.2%) but has also walked at a 17.5% clip.  He did it all playing as one of the youngest players in the league.

3. Kristian Robinson (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy outfielder that is still raw.  If it all comes together, there is 20-20 potential.

At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Kristian Robinson looks like he just walked out of central casting for ballplayers.  He has plus raw power and is starting to tap into that.  In 69 games in 2019, he slugged .514 with 14 home runs.  He’s currently an above-average runner, but as he fills out, the potential of a 20-20 performer will fade.  Once he hits his mid-20’s, he’ll profile more as a power-hitting corner outfielder as opposed to a five-tool performer.  While it’s still raw, he does show an understanding of the strike zone.  However, his swing does get long so strikeouts will likely be part of the equation going forward. 

4. Corbin Martin (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP
  • Tools Summary: Premium stuff that should play well at the highest level

Corbin Martin spent the entire 2020 season recovering from TJ Surgery.  Drafted by the Astros, but traded in the 2019 Zack Greinke trade, Martin arsenal looked good in his first taste of the Major Leagues. His fastball sat 95.2 MPH with a high spin rate and each of his secondary pitches produced a solid WHIFF rate.  He needs to throw more strikes and improve his fastball command but assuming he comes back healthy, there’s at least a number three starter potential here.

5. Geraldo Perdomo (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Potentially a plus hit tool with good speed.  The open question is how much power he will develop.

Geraldo Perdomo was one of the more impressive hitters I saw in the Fall League in 2019.  He showed a good understanding of the strike zone and was a tough out.  He’s also a plus runner capable of stealing 20+ stolen bases annually.  What he doesn’t have is much power.  His swing is more geared to contact as it lacks leverage.  Power could come as he fills out, and at 6-foot-3, I would not rule that out. As a true shortstop, the ceiling is a Top 15 shortstop at the highest level.  The amount of power he develops will be the key to whether he challenges the ranks of the top shortstops or falls just short.

6. Blake Walston (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP
  • Tools Summary: Excellent athlete with a plus fastball.  His secondary pitches need work

Blake Walston was drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft.  At 6-foot-5 and 175 pounds, Blake Walston is a raw projectable lefty with a wide-ranging ceiling.  He already throws hard but as puts on weight, his mid-90s heater could easily grow into a 98+ MPH fastball.  His secondary pitches are raw, particularly his change-up.  Plus, he doesn’t always repeat his delivery but with his athleticism, the bet is he will figure it out.  If you squint, you can see a top-of-the-rotation arm emerge.  However, we’ll take the conservative approach and put his ceiling as a number three starter with upside.

7. Bryce Jarvis (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Major League pedigree with plus stuff

Bryce Jarvis was the Diamondbacks first-round pick last June (#18).  His stuff took a major step forward in 2020 culminating in a no-hitter against Cornell in late February.  While his season was limited like everyone else was, the final stat line was that of video games.  In four games, he pitched to a sub 1 ERA and WHIP with a 40K/2BB strike-out-to-walk ratio.  He has a plus fastball that sits 94 to 95 MPH with solid secondary pitches.  He’s on the smallish side at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds and the delivery can get aggressive.  I’ve put the upside as a mid-rotation starter.

8. Blaze Alexander (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with speed but his lack of power could limit him to a utility player

Blaze Alexander has plus speed and an approach that should allow him to hit enough to ascend to the big leagues one day.  He also has the range and arm to stay at short.  All good…the problem is he doesn’t have a ton of strength and unless he can get stronger, he could slug .400 or less and that likely pushes him to a utility role.  While I’ve always liked the player, there is still some work left for him to project as a full-time regular at the highest level.

9. Luis Frias (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: Plus stuff but delivery points to a bullpen role.

Luis Frias is the definition of a late bloomer.  Signed in 2015 out of the Dominican, he put things together in 2019 where he struck out 72 batters in 49.2 innings in the Pioneer League while posting a 1.99 ERA.  He has two double-plus pitches in his fastball that will touch the upper nineties and classic downer curveball.  His change-up is still a work-in-progress.  While the Diamondbacks are continuing to use him as a starter, the delivery points to a bullpen role.  If they decide to move him in that direction, he could move quickly through the system and could even see the D-Backs bullpen sometime next season.

10. Seth Beer (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: Plus power with a solid hit tool should make up for his lack of defensive position.

Seth Beer was part of the return in the Zack Greinke trade and despite some concern about his defensive position, it looks like he can hit and hit with power.  He does have some poor splits and he might be relegated to a platoon player; albeit on the good side of the platoon if he doesn’t hit left-handed pitching better.  I was a little surprised that he didn’t get an invitation to Arizona in 2020 and that could be a red flag on his upside.  For now, I’m putting his ceiling as a Top 15 1B but with some at-bat risk.

11. Wilderd Patino (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: Potential five-tool talent

Wilderd Patino is one of the more intriguing talents within the Diamondbacks system.  He crushed the Arizona League in 2019 where he slashed .349/.403/.472 with 13 stolen bases and a home run.  The approach needs a lot of work but even with a missed 2020 season, he’ll still be a teenager to begin the 2021 season.  There is plenty of bat speed to project future power and he’s already a double-plus runner.  If he can hit, there could be something pretty special here.

12. Levi Kelly (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary:  Size and solid stuff across the board.

Drafted in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Levi Kelly has impressed in his brief professional career.  In 2019, he pitched to a 2.15 ERA striking out 11.3 per nine while walking 3.5 per nine. The Diamondbacks managed his innings very effectively not allowing him to pitch over six innings in any one start.  He’s got solid stuff across the board with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH, a slider that is his primary outpitch, and a feel for a change-up.  The control is not always present and there is some effort in his delivery.  However, the Diamondbacks think he could develop into a mid-rotation starter, and given his progression to-date, that seems reasonable.

13. Pavin Smith (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 1B
  • Tools Summary: Plus hit tool, but his lack of quality bat speed puts a serious question on how much ultimate power he will have.

Pavin Smith appeared in 12 games last September in the Major Leagues and did not look lost. He slashed .270/.341/.405 with a home run and even stole a base.  Smith is a solid prospect, but I don’t see the kind of upside that will make him a star.  He does have a plus hit-tool and can control the strike zone enough to hit .270 with a .340 OBP. His swing though is more built for contact than power and he lacks premium bat speed to project plus power in the future.  Net-net, I see a high-average first baseman with 15 to 20 home run power and no speed.  Is that enough to get full-time at-bats?  Perhaps.  The production of Brandon Belt with a better average as he strikes out a lot less might be a good comp.

14. JB Bukauskas (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
  • Tools Summary:  Plus stuff, but delivery and control are pointing to a bullpen role.

Once considered a top prospect, the shine has dimmed on JB Bukauskas with a bullpen role likely in his future.  He’s primarily a fastball/slider pitcher with his fastball touching 96 MPH and his slider grading out as a plus, if not plus-plus offering,  He doesn’t repeat his delivery and that is leading to control problems.  While he will work to improve his control, he’ll likely get the call in 2021 to work out of the bullpen.

15. Jon Duplantier (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal but control problems are pointing to a bullpen role.

After making his major league debut in 2019, Jon Duplantier had elbow discomfort in April and spent the 2020 season resting and rehabbing.  Assuming he’s healthy, Duplantier has a solid arsenal with a fastball that sits 92 MPH with average spin and three average secondary pitches.  He’s never had good control and it likely stems from a long-arm swing.  While this creates deception, it also makes repeating his delivery difficult.  Ultimately, a move to the bullpen will allow his arsenal to play-up a grade and reduce the need gfor drastic improvements in his control.

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