Previewing who we might see in Arizona later this year
I was taking a look at players in the Diamondbacks upper minors, either in AAA or AA, that might have a chance, (or are even likely) to see MLB playing time this year. The focus here is on who the team positioned at the start of the season to provide depth and help the big club in the event of injury, or are close enough to get called up if having a breakout season. So in that context, here are some players that stood out to me. Not all of these players will get MLB playing time this year, but some will (or already have). The highlighted player names link to their Fangraphs Player Page, and you can follow the links to the team reports as well. Let me know in the comments if I missed anyone you think has a high chance of playing in MLB in 2022.
AAA Reno Aces
Hitters, Minimum 30 PA (Click link for table)
Alek Thomas: The team was really hoping that he would have a great spring and earn a spot on the opening day roster. But his swing was out of whack and he just didn’t earn it. And so far in the AAA West/Reno hitters paradise he’s been pretty average. He’s had some really good games of course, but his overall slash line is .266/.340/.457 , 102 wRC+. Perhaps it’s time to adjust some of the conventional wisdom about when he might be called up. I don’t think they’re manipulating his service time clock. I think they are waiting for him to earn it.
Stone Garrett: After a breakout power year last year, (25 homers) Stone has taken it to another level in the early going this year. .361/.424/.735 , 188 wRC+, which leads the league. We’ve seen older prospects put up big numbers in Reno that they can’t come close to in MLB over and over, and Garrett is 26 years old. He also has a .442 BABIP. But he’s right handed and could be in line for a promotion the next time injury opens up an outfield roster spot.
Buddy Kennedy: He got off to a terrible start but has been coming around, going 11 for his last 25 with three doubles. His current line is .260/.329./.390. 86 wRC+ . He’s going to have to do a lot more than that to earn MLB playing time anytime soon.
Since getting sent down, Jake McCarthy has a 155 wRC+ in just 34 PA. With his defense it’s pretty likely he is a recall candidate if there is injury. Drew Ellis has been underwhelming since his demotion, posting a 104 wRC+ in 74 PA. Dominic Canzone has struggled since getting promoted to AAA batting, 212 with a 45 wRC+ in 34 PA.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the AAA catching core as well. Grayson Greiner, Dominic Miroglio and Juan Graterol are the names there.
PITCHERS, No Minimum IP. (Click link for table)
We’ve already seen 9 pitchers log innings in both AAA and MLB this year, including Kyle Nelson, Edwin Uceta, Luis Frias, Kenyan Middleton, Taylor Widener, Tyler Gilbert, Tyler Holton, Matt Peacock & Caleb Smith. (Corbin Martin was optioned but brought right back and has only pitched in MLB so far)
Kyle Nelson is the only one that has earned the managers trust and has “stuck” so far, putting up a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 IP.
Frias, Middleton, and Uceta were shakey despite good numbers in Reno, and Peacock got DFA’d.
Tyler Gilbert was solid when called up and should get another opportunity soon.
Among Starting Pitchers, Right Hander Ryne Nelson is someone to keep an eye on. He had two good starts to open the season, but has struggled with the long ball since, (2.1 HR/9) and his ERA has zoomed to 7.18 . But his xFIP is 4.24, and he has 10.6 K/9 to 2.7 BB/9. He’s probably back a ways on the depth chart if they need a starter or two in the coming months, but keep an eye on him anyway.
Lefty Tommy Henry has a 3.74 ERA in 21 IP, but his walk rate is quite high (6.23 BB/9) and he may be getting a little lucky with homers, having allowed just one. But he’s keeping the ball on the ground with a 52% GB rate.
Drey Jameson The diminutive righty was lighting it up in AA Amarillo but got ripped in his first start in Reno. He’s on the radar, and many think he profiles as a reliever in the long term.
AA Amarillo Sod Poodles
Hitters (minimum 20 PA). Click link for table
Corbin Carroll .333/.444/.617 Even after adjusting for Amarillo park factors, his 164 wRC+ ranks 9th in the league. He’s cooled off slightly his last few games, going 3 for 15, with a homer and double. I guess that’s a slump in his world. It may seem premature to talk about a2022 call up, but he’s already almost 22 years old, and probably gets a promotion to Reno in June or July if he keeps this up. From there, a post trade deadline in August or September roster expansion callup seem a good possibility to me, although others think I’m jumping the gun. Just keep in mind Mike Hazen’s front office may feel pressure by then to validate their draft picks sooner rather than later. That’s highly speculative on my part of course.
Leandro Cedeno. .371/.423/.743, 182 wRC+, 3rd in the league . While Cedeno is not really a candidate for callup this year, I wanted to mention him. Blocked by Goldy in the St, Louis organization, and never having developed much power for a right handed first base, corner outfield option, the D-backs picked him up this year. A funny thing has happened with him. Prior to reaching AA he had a career 28% K rate in the US Minor Leagues. But since getting to AA last year with St, Louis, and into this year with Arizona, his K% is just 15%. He’s putting all that extra contact to good use, hitting for both power and average. (7 HR and 5 Doubles in 99 PA. If I get a chance to ask Josh Barfield about him I will.
PITCHERS Min 10 IP. Click link for table
Brandon Pfaadt (4.19 ERA, 4.06 FIP) Slade Cecconi, (5.66/4.97) & Bryce Jarvis (5.25/5.58) are all worth keeping an eye on. While it’s not likely the team will reach all the way down to AA for a pitcher, if any of these three get promoted to Reno during the season, then being called upon to provide middle relief innings late in the year is not out of the question.
Overall the look and feel of the depth situation in Arizona has definitely improved. There are still some questions about developing in house relief options from the minor leagues though. They really could use one or two more young arms to step up and earn Torey’s trust for close games.