The Diamondbacks have good prospects with several having impact potential. But, they have struggled over the past several years to get the most out of their players. They just are not reaching their ceilings. Furthermore, the system took a step backward in 2021.
Jordan Lawlar and Corbin Carroll, two of their highest ceiling players barely played. Lawlar played in two games and Carroll in seven and both had shoulder surgery that ended their season. Alex Thomas had a nice season and appears just about ready to help the Major League team. I like him, but I don’t see a star and candidly, Arizona needs stars. Blake Walston still needs to mature physically but if it all comes together, he could pitch at the top-of-the-rotation.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Jordan Lawlar
- Biggest Mover: Luis Frias
- Emerging Prospect: Junior Franco
1. Jordan Lawlar (SS)
- Highest Level: Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 SS
- Tools Summary: Athletic, toolsy, and arguably had the highest upside of anyone in last June’s draft. He did hurt his shoulder in his second professional game and required surgery
On paper, Jordan Lawlar might have had the best tools in last June’s draft. He’s athletic, with plus speed and a short and direct swing. There’s plenty of bat speed to project future power. But, he dropped to number seven. Why, I’m not sure because, on paper, he has what you’re looking for in a high first-round pick. Regardless, the Diamondbacks had to be thrilled and then assigned him to the Complex League to begin his career. He played two games and wham…hurt his shoulder and needed surgery to repair his labrum. Ugh…not good. He’ll likely start the 2022 season late and remember, labrum tears are tricky. I’m not worried about him long-term, but he’ll likely fall behind his draft class and then the speculative stories of why others skipped over him will start. For me, if I can grab him in a Dynasty League supplemental draft, I’m doing it.
2. Alek Thomas (OF)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: High-floor player with a chance to hit 20 home runs and steal 10 bases. He also controls the strike zone well
Alek Thomas had a great season. He showed power, speed and controlled the strike zone well. And, he did it in the upper levels of the minor leagues. In 106 games across Double and Triple-A, he slashed .313/.394/.559 with 18 home runs and 13 stolen bases. The only worrisome stat was he hit the ball on the ground a lot. In looking back at his previous years, he’s always hit the ball on the ground a lot (50 to 55%). Overall, I don’t see a star in Thomas, but more of a solid player who can hit 20 home runs, steal 8 to 10 bases, and post a .350 OBP. Plus, I think the risk is low as he’s demonstrating those skills now.
3. Corbin Carroll (OF)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 OF
- Tools Summary: Double-plus runner with good bat speed. However, he missed most of the 2021 season after having shoulder surgery in early May
Unfortunately, Corbin Carroll missed all but 7 games of the 2021 season when he tore his labrum on a home run swing. If that sounds odd, well, it does to me as well. Guys swing hard all the time and you would think more shoulder issues would occur. Maybe they do, but players are not able to pinpoint the exact moment like Carroll was. But, he lost time, and shoulder injuries can be tricky to recover from. He has more upside than Thomas and you can argue he should be ahead of him in the rankings. But, we are waiting on his development, particularly his power to emerge and at 5-foot-10, there is a question as to how much will. Still, the upside is a #3 outfielder, and with his speed (he’s a double-plus runner), it could be more.
4. Blake Walston (LHP)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP with risk
- Tools Summary: Athletic with the chance for a premium arsenal. He needs to add bulk and if he does, he could develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter
Walston is a great athlete with a chance for three above-average pitches. He still needs to put on weight and when he does, the fastball should take a step up. Plus, he’s a lefty. So, it’s everything you want to see in a front-line starter. Last season, he pitched well splitting time between Low and High-A where he struck out over 10 per nine while keeping his walk rate around 3 per nine. But, it’s not about the stat line with Walston. It’s about him maturing physically and the stuff taking a step forward. When it does, things could fall into place nicely.
5. Geraldo Perdomo (SS)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: Continues to show an excellent understanding of the plate with a chance for a plus hit tool. We are still waiting on his power to develop
I was hoping that Geraldo Perdomo would take a big setup in 2021 but he didn’t. He played ok – mostly in Double-A; although he played four games to start the season in the Majors and finished the season with one game in Triple-A. Anyway, in 82 games, he slashed .231/.351/.357 with 6 home runs and 8 stolen bases. He continues to be selective at the plate, walking 14% of the time and making solid contact (23.5% K/9). What I was hoping is that he would start to show more power. He’s noticeably bigger and stronger but hasn’t added much loft to the swing. Once he does, I believe he’ll unlock the power. I have to remind myself that he just turned 22 in October. I still see the upside as a Top 15 shortstop with a chance to be a 20-20 performer; although as he continues to fill out, the speed will regress.
6. Luis Frias (RHP)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: Big fastball-slider pitcher who threw more strikes last season
Frias started the season in Double-A and pitched well. He cut down on his walk rate which had plagued him early in his career. He started 16 games and struck out over 10 per nine while walking less than three per nine. He’s always had the big fastball that sits 96 to 97 and he complements that with a nasty slider and a hard change-up that still needs some work. But, it’s a good arsenal and he got guys out in the big leagues at the end of the season. The delivery still has a lot of effort and that might eventually push him to the bullpen, but he’s going in the right direction and could be a number three starter.
7. Slade Cecconi (RHP)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: He has a big fastball but his control and command are behind. Batters are hitting him harder than his arsenal would suggest
Slade Cecconi has the size and the big arm to pitch at the top of the rotation. His secondary pitches still need work, and he doesn’t yet have command of his pitches. But, the arsenal is good enough to get Major Leaguers out once he arrives. He’s a talent and a kid that Dynasty League owners should consider investing in.
8. Ryne Nelson (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: Power fastball-slider pitcher who showed improved control last season
There was concern that Ryne Nelson would ever show enough control to be more than a reliever. However, he came into the season showing improved control of his pitches. The results were much better than what he produced in 2019. In 22 starts across High-A and Double-A, he only walked a little over three per nine while striking out almost 13 per nine. He did give up too many home runs and that shows that he needs to continue to work on spotting his pitches better. If he continues to show improved control and a better change-up, he can be a starter. If not, he profiles as a high-leveraged reliever and a pretty good one at that.
9. Drey Jameson (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: A nice step-up season where he showed much better control.
Before the season, Drey Jameson looked like a reliever. He has the big fastball and slider but in eight starts in 2019, he walked nearly seven per nine. Spin forward to 2021 and the stuff was better and most importantly, he’s cut his walk rate down to just over two per nine. Across High and Double-A, he pitched to a 3.44 ERA, striking out 11.5 per nine and walking 2.5 per nine. Now, before everyone runs out and picks him up in a Dynasty League, he’s only 6-feet tall, and even with his great year, he’s homer-prone. That will only be exasperated pitching half his games in Arizona. I’m putting his ceiling as a number four starter, maybe a little more.
10. Bryce Jarvis (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: First-round pick whose skills took a step up this past season. Number four starter or reliever profile
Jarvis was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick in 2020 (pick 17). He pitched well in college, even a perfect game in the shortened 2020 season. However, after being drafted, it took him a while to build his arm strength back up and I heard he was pitching better in spring training with a fastball that was sitting 92 to 93 MPH. His best pitch is his slider and apparently, the change-up has gotten much better. He’s got solid control to round out the profile. Most likely, it’s a back-of-rotation profile with a chance to be a little more.
11. Wilderd Patino (OF)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Athletic and toolsy but needs work on his approach and pitch recognition stills
Wilderd Patino has tons of tools with great bat and foot speed. We weren’t sure if he could hit and after a rough season in Low-A, it’s still an open question. Granted, his season was interrupted by a stint on the IL and he missed nearly two months of games. He only hit .210, striking out 58 times and walking 5 times. Not much else really matters. The approach needs work as does his pitch recognition skills. But, he’s athletic, toolsy, and only 20-years-old. Let’s see what he can do after 100 games, which hopefully he’ll do in 2022.
12. Seth Beer (1B/DH)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: DH, maybe a 1B
- Tools Summary: Can hit but there remain questions about how much power he will develop
If there is a DH in the National League next season, Seth Beer might be a candidate for the Diamondbacks. He’s always been able to hit but there have been questions about how much power he’ll have once he finally gets the call to the Major Leagues. Well, he got a brief call-up in late September where he played five games before separating his shoulder. The exit velocity is not great but he’s a big, strong kid and I believe there is 20 home run pop. But, he makes great contact and can work a walk. Is that enough to make him a full-time regular…at DH? That’s always been the question…
13. Joe Elbis (RHP)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP or Reliever
- Tools Summary: Intriguing pitcher who is showing elite control with an arsenal that is improving
Elbis was signed as an International free agent in 2019 out of Venezuela. The Diamondbacks aggressively assigned him the ACL where he pitched well. In 39.2 innings, he pitched to a 3.40 ERA striking out 46 and walking four. The effort got him a promotion to Low-A where he continued to pitch well. He doesn’t have the size you want to see in a starter at 6-feet, but he has a fast arm and is now touching 94 MPH. As he continues to get stronger, there’s a chance for more velocity. He’s likely a reliever long-term but if he can improve his secondary pitches, he could stay a starter.
14. Junior Franco (OF)
- Highest Level: Complex League ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Toolsy player with a feel for hitting. He’s very young and little is known about him. Hmmm….
Franco is not a big guy at 5-foot-9 but he played the entire season at 18-years-old and didn’t look out of place. Granted, it was the Complex League, but he slashed .304/.404/.519 with 2 home runs and 10 stolen bases. He’s a plus runner with some bat speed. He does strike out too much but will work counts. It might be nothing, but there are some intriguing fantasy tools.
15. Corbin Martin (RHP)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer??
- Tools Summary: He has never been the same since hurting his elbow in 2019
Since Martin is a famous prospect, I thought I would put him at #15. Candidly, things are not going well. Back in 2019, he made his Major League debut with the Astros in May, and in a word, he shoved it. In 5.1 innings, he struck out 9, giving up a lone earned run. After that, he struggled, and then we found out why. He had hurt his elbow and needed TJS. Enter the Diamondbacks. They asked for him to be included in the Greinke deal and the Astros complied. Spin forward to 2021 and he doesn’t look like the same guy. The stuff is mostly back, although he doesn’t throw quite as hard anymore. However, he has no control of his arsenal. He didn’t pitch that much last season because he hit the IL again with forearm tightness. So, is he a prospect anymore? Maybe, but he’s now 26-years-old and time is ticking. A move to the bullpen might be in order.
Kristian Robinson – In case you’re wondering why Kristian Robinson is not on this list, read this and you’ll find out where he’s been. If he gets back playing, then we can evaluate him in the future for inclusion in the list.
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