Which prospects in the D-backs system have improved their case and which ones have struggled in the 2022 season.
We are about a third of the way through the 2022 season, in which we should have enough data on hitters and pitchers to make a somewhat incomplete evaluation. Hitters should have over 200 plate appearances and pitchers roughly around 50 innings to evaluate, so we can take a look at who’s performing well and who isn’t. I picked three prospects who are performing well and two who aren’t.
Stats are up to date through Friday June 10th.
OF Corbin Carroll
It is very rare for someone who was ranked as the consensus #1 prospect in the organization considered a stock up, but Carroll has 220 PA now since recovering from a very gruesome shoulder injury. Over those 220 PA, Carroll has put together an impressive slash of .306/.427/.622 with 13 homers, a 15% walk rate, and a 162 wRC+. Prospect evaluators have also taken note of Carroll’s great start, with him jumping to 4th overall on Baseball America and 13th overall on MLB Pipeline. It will be interesting to see when the organization elects to promote him to AAA/Reno, although I don’t expect him to appear in a Diamondbacks uniform before Opening Day 2023.
Carroll projects to be a quality defender in CF thanks to plus-plus speed and a top of the order hitter with above-average pop and a plus-plus hit tool. Despite losing a full Minor League season due to shoulder surgery, Carroll took his free time to study at-bats at the MLB level from the scouting section at Chase Field. With makeup that I would consider at nearly the top of the scale due to be highly competitive, he should reach his ceiling as a 3-4 WAR player in CF due to the many different ways he can impact the game.
RHP Brandon Pfaadt
At some point this season, the organization has had Pfaadt, Slade Cecconi, Bryce Jarvis, Drey Jameson, and Blake Walston pitch in Amarillo. Jameson would be the first player of this group to reach Reno, but Pfaadt appears to be not too far behind. His last three have been outright dominant: 19 IP, 12 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 26 K. His season ERA is 3.86 with a 3.34 FIP, which is downright amazing considering how bad the run environment has been in the Southern Division of the Texas League. On the season as a whole, Pfaadt has struck out 32% of the hitters he’s faced and only walked 5% with improved stuff relative to last year.
Pfaadt’s fastball will sit low 90s, but he can hump it up to 96 when looking to get it by hitters up in the zone. Thanks to the vertical movement profile on the 4-seamer, it gets plenty of swings and misses up in the zone. He pairs up two above-average breaking balls with that fastball that gives him two other options for swings and misses to the glove side of the plate. He also possesses a sinker and a change-up to go as a change of pace, pitch to contact type offerings, although if the change-up develops to an above-average or even plus offering Pfaadt may have some top of the rotation upside.
INF Blaze Alexander
It’s somewhat difficult to figure out if this is a real breakout with the bat, with the run environment in the Texas League being out of whack. At the same time, we’re seeing a jump in offense from Alexander with Amarillo. In 164 PA he’s hitting .308/.393/.531 (136 wRC+) with 7 homers, 8 steals, a 26.8% strikeout rate and a 9.1% walk rate. The .308 average is buoyed by a .402 BABIP, so expect some regression in that regards. It will be interesting to see where his end of season numbers end up.
Alexander was a high ceiling pick-up in the 11th round of the 2018 Draft with loud tools, but the hit tool needed serious development because of swing and miss issues. His walk rate has hovered around 10% at each stop in the minors. I have him projected to be a utility infielder that splits time at 2B, 3B, and SS and in the lineup against left-handed starting pitchers or day game after a night game situation. The sample size against LHP is pretty low, but the last two years show big platoon splits in 2021 and 2022.
1B/DH Seth Beer
Beer hit his way on the roster thanks to a strong Spring and ended up being the team’s primary DH against right handed pitchers in the lineup. It looked good through his first 43 PA, in which Beer hit .385/.442/.538 (171 wRC+) although there were obvious red flags in that stretch of games. Beer had a 25.6% strikeout rate and a 7.0% walk rate and a .519 BABIP in that stretch with very little power to show. In the next 50 PA he got harsh ABABIP regression while the strikeout rate stayed around 26% and the walks jumped to 10%. The quality of at-bats, quality of contact, and the counts were worse to the point where the team had to option him to AAA after his season numbers dropped to .210/.301/.284 (67 wRC+).
Beer hasn’t done much in AAA, albeit with a small sample size of 93 PA he has put up a decent stat line of .240/.398/.507 with 5 homers with an 18% strikeout rate and a 11% walk rate. That overall stat line pushes him to a solid 126 wRC+, although there may be some underlying concerns. Beer’s ground ball rate is particularly high for a slow-footed slugger, with a 53.4% mark in Reno after putting up a 46% rate in the majors, coming at the expense of his line drive rate which clocks in under 7% so far. The batted ball rates haven’t quite stabilized yet (~200-250 PA is the mark), so I expect the line drive rate to go up.
RHP Bryce Jarvis
The Diamondbacks took Jarvis as an advanced college pitcher that got a major stuff bump the Spring before the 2020 Draft, but he has scuffled at the AA level. As mentioned above, the run environment in the Texas League South is downright ridiculous, and that makes player evaluations very difficult for the casual observer. At the same time, Jarvis’ numbers have big red flags worth mentioning. Jarvis has walked 12% of hitters he’s faced while only striking out 22%. The results have been particularly surprising, as Jarvis had shown an ability to pitch well with upper 80s velocity in college but hasn’t performed with an improved arsenal.
Without knowledge of velocity or arm health, I’m probably going to assume this is just natural growing pains for the 24-year-old righty. Whether or not the league environment has scared him out of the zone or if there are mechanical issues, it’s something that needs to be fixed. I still rate Jarvis in the top tier of arms in the system, but clearly at the bottom of the group behind Blake Walston, Brandon Pfaadt, Drey Jameson, and Slade Cecconi.