D-backs See Promise In Nick's Bat

PHOENIX—The Diamondbacks have found a lot to like in second baseman David Nick, so much so that they fast-tracked him into the Arizona Fall League after a breakthrough season at high Class A Visalia.

Nick, 21, has shown an aptitude for the game and the willingness to apply himself that typified the parent Diamondbacks' rise to the top of the National League West this season. It seems a perfect match. As one major league talent evaluator who has seen Nick often said, "He will play in the major leagues."

Nick, 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, hit .300/.342/.449 at Visalia with 35 doubles, 13 home runs, 68 RBIs and five stolen bases. And the Diamondbacks think he has room to grow. His 13 homers equaled his total from his first two seasons, and his bat is projectable.

"For a young player, he has a great swing and a great approach at the plate," farm director Mike Bell said. "He has good bat speed. He can get to a good fastball. He understands what he needs to do. He hasn't shown a ton of power, but as he gets stronger, he's got the swing that can elevate the ball and drive it out of the park. You look at him . . . he's still got some growing to do."

Nick, who had four hits in his first 10 AFL at-bats, has shown a fundamentally sound approach in the field, too. Though he is still working to improve his range at second, he handles what he can reach. "When he catches it, you're out," said Bell, who also praised Nick's makeup.

Nick, a fourth-round pick in 2009 out of Cypress (Calif.) High, was named to the Pioneer League all-star team in his pro debut after hitting .286/.351/.440 at Rookie-level Missoula. He hit .251/.318/.366 in 2010 at low Class A South Bend while growing more comfortable as the season progressed.

"He works as hard as anybody we have. Every day he comes to learn something new," Bell added.

Snake Bites

• Righthander Eric Smith had a good first outing in the AFL, pitching 21⁄3 innings for Salt River. Smith, a 2009 second-round pick out of Rhode Island, was sent to the AFL to top off a regular season when he went 5-6, 6.35 at Visalia.

• No AFL hitter got off to a hotter start than Ryan Wheeler. The 23-year-old third baseman was 10-for-18 with five doubles after four games for Salt River. Wheeler hit .294/.358/.465 for Double-A Mobile in the regular season.