2019 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Jazz Chisholm (Photo by Dan Arnold)

To see the D-backs top 10, click here. 

Nick Piecoro: Hello. Thanks for all the questions already in the queue. Let’s get started.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): 

    About how far off the top was was Pavin Smith? Are you worried at all about his 2018 season, and what does he need to work on most?

Nick Piecoro: He was a ways off. There just weren’t many looks from folks outside the organization who came away with a positive impression. From what people say, Smith probably could stand to get more aggressive and go to the plate more looking to do damage than just put the ball in play. The raw power is in there. He has to tap into it.

Eric (Phoenix, AZ): 

    Could you let us in on what scouts had to say about Drew Ellis? Is he likely to stick at third?

Nick Piecoro: Ellis is on the list but further down. There will be a full write-up on him in the handbook. Most people are more comfortable projecting him as a future third baseman than as a future above-average hitter.

Tyler (AL): 

    Jon Duplantier was a top 50 prospect the last time BA released a list. Is Chisholm overtaking him a product of Duplantier falling or Chisholm rising?

Nick Piecoro: I’d say more to do with Chisholm rising, but the time Duplantier missed last year due to arm problems adds to folks’ concerns about his injury history and his funky delivery.

Rick (Dallas): 

    Happy New Year Nick. Joan Lopez, is he still considered a prospect? What do you think his chances of being a dominant late inning reliever? Could you even him closing in a year or so?

Nick Piecoro: Absolutely. The way he pitched in September in the big leagues was impressive. He seems to have the mindset/mentality for the late innings, too. The Diamondbacks have a lot of bullpen uncertainty at the moment. I’d guess he’ll get every opportunity to win a job in camp this spring.

Ryan (Detroit): 

    Geraldo Perdomo will be the Diamondbacks #1 Prospect next year at this time. On a 1-10 scale, 1 being No Way, 10 being Without Question, how confident are you?

Nick Piecoro: I’m rarely confident about anything related to prospects, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he were.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    Even though you don’t get a vote, how many of these prospects do you believe are worthy of making BA’s top 100 prospects list?

Nick Piecoro: That’s a good question. I probably don’t have as complete a picture of the other 29 teams to say definitively, but I could see arguments for the Top 4, especially since Carson Kelly has been a Top 100 guy twice before.

Nick (Phoenix): 

    Call me crazy, but this is a good-looking top 10 finally. After several down years, I feel like the top 7 are as good as most teams, with several potential stars and across the board high floors. But I bet that the system ranking will still be very low and only a couple of the guys make the top 100. Do I have a case of unwarranted spring optimism, or is there a bias/inertia that is reflected in ranking farm systems/prospects?

Nick Piecoro: You’re optimism is warranted, but so is the fact that the organization will probably still be bottom half/bottom third. The risk profiles are just so high for almost all of these guys, whether it’s because of swing-and-miss (Chisholm), injury (Duplantier) or just the fact that several of them are so young and so many years away.

Warren (New London): 

    The Thomas/Perdomo/Robinson/Alexander cohort has me liking this system much more than I used to. I’m wondering about the two third basemen from south/central Jersey high schools, Joey Rose and Buddy Kennedy. Which one do you prefer? Who plays third at Kane County, and what do they do with the other one?

Nick Piecoro: It’s definitely easier to prefer Kennedy at this point given their performances last year. Kennedy has a knack for finding the barrel and is probably a little more athletic than his frame would suggest. As for Rose, coaches say he tries to hit everything out the park and that once he understands he doesn’t need to do that in order for his power to play that he’ll be a better hitter. That Kane County team is going to be interesting to watch. Perhaps they’ll hold some of the younger guys back, get them some more time in extended, let other guys play at Kane County, then decide in May what to do.

Warren (New London): 

    The two Zacks, Zack Shannon and Zachery Almond, were 1-2 in the Pioneer League in home runs and slugging percentage, but they were both 22 years old. Could either of them mash his way to the big leagues? Is there any chance Almond can stay behind the plate?

Nick Piecoro: Both are the type that scouts want to see at higher levels before going too strong on them. With Almond, they wanted to see that he could hit velocity. Defensively, plenty of arm, pretty good hands but still developing behind the plate. Unclear if he can stick. Shannon is a big fellow with big-time power. Probably first base only, but he apparently has a big arm, too; maybe that’s an option down the road if hitting doesn’t work out.

Miles (Iowa): 

    Marcus Wilson had a trying season at Visalia…still hope for him at his age/toolset? Was there anything to like this year?

Nick Piecoro: He apparently had some mechanical/timing issues and found himself behind in counts a lot. It was a rough go. However, I’ve been told his batted ball numbers were actually pretty decent. He just hit into a lot of tough luck. The tools are still there, and he was never expected to be a quick mover anyway.

Larry (Phoenix): 

    I’m a little surprised by Perdomo over Robinson. Could you give a little more insight as to why they are ranked this way? Thank you!

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, this was a tough call. I think the ceiling probably is higher with Robinson but the floor is higher with Perdomo. With Perdomo, I just feel like there aren’t many guys with that kind of plate discipline at that age (who can also hit a little) who flame out as prospects. Robinson has an idea of what he’s doing at the plate, too, but it seems to be less refined than Perdomo and has more swing/miss. Also, Perdomo is a no-doubt shortstop, Robinson maybe a corner guy.

Taylor (Arizona): 

    Hey Nick, I only see two pitchers on this list. Are there any lower level pitchers that could shoot up this list next year?

Nick Piecoro: Taylor Clarke I think got bumped out of the Top 10 due to Carson Kelly. And, yeah, there are a slew of pitchers from last year’s draft that the club is hopeful can develop into rotation prospects (Ryan Weiss, Matt Mercer, Jackson Goddard, et al), plus 2017 draftees Matt Tabor and Harrison Francis had solid years.

John (NJ): 

    Nick, thanks for the chat. What is a realistic ceiling for Alek Thomas? Do you see him as a slap-hitting corner outfielder (Brett Gardner) or does he have the capability to become something greater? Maybe a all start caliber center fielder in Johnny Damon?

Nick Piecoro: He’s just so young and hasn’t gotten to full-season ball yet, so it’s really hard to say. He can barrel up balls. He has a strong frame so he probably won’t just be a slap-hitting type. He can probably stick in center field. He’s got a lot going for him.

Jordan (Phoenix): 

    Hey Nick, what do you think of Matt Mercer? I follow him on Twitter and the dude really throws gas! Do scours see his future in the rotation or more as a reliever? Thank you!

Nick Piecoro: He’s an interesting one. The delivery and his size have people thinking he could end up in the bullpen, but scouts have thought that about a lot of pitchers who wound up remaining starters. He has a big fastball, a potential plus change, good athleticism and he seems to be a bright/driven guy, so you’d think he’ll continue to improve.

Ryan (Los Angeles): 

    Hi Nick, what are you hearing about Liover Peguero? How would you compare he and Perdomo? Thank you!

Nick Piecoro: There are a lot of people who are big Peguero fans. He’s more of the quick-twitch, explosive type where as Perdomo is a smoother, more rhythmic player. Peguero is probably more out of the Jonathan Schoop mold, if it all works out. He’s probably going to need to tone down his approach, but he’s a fascinating prospect.

Philip (Tucson): 

    Hey Nick, what do you think of Andy Yerzy? Can he continue to catch, and if not is the bat good enough for first base?

Nick Piecoro: There are folks in the organization who think it would be premature to give up on him behind the plate, but he does still have a ways to go and the bat is far ahead of the glove. He seems to be a cage rat type, loves talking hitting, breaking down video, etc., and has a really good idea of what he’s doing at the plate and how his swing works. I tend to think the bat is going to get him to the big leagues and he might even hit enough to be a first base/DH.

Carlos (Gilbert, AZ): 

    Thanks for the chat Nick. I appreciate all your work. Who do you think is a good break out candidate or two from this system? Thank you!

Nick Piecoro: Peguero, Tabor, Weiss, Mercer, Francis. Oh and Jorge Barrosa.

Derek Daniels (El Paso Texas): 

    With the dbacks in a rebuild phase now (even though they say they are not) who in the farm system could fans see up in the first waves of the future?

Nick Piecoro: Duplantier, Widener, Clarke are probably first up, with Chisholm, Varsho coming up behind them.

Kristian Robinson (Future Top 100?): 

    Hi Nick, thank you for chatting with us today. I am ranked #7 but would it be fair to say that outside of maybe Chisholm, I have the highest upside in the organization? I made my way stateside in 2018 and showed I was worth the hype. Do scouts see my FV hit/power tools as potentially 55 hit / 60 power? If so, along with my youth, am I a prime candidate to shoot up the top 100 with a strong 2019?

Nick Piecoro: Power can be a 60 for sure. Still a bit too much swing & miss at this point to go too high with the bat, in my opinion. But, yeah, considering Robinson was sort of ticketed to start 2018 in the DSL and he wound up playing two levels stateside, they’re clearly not afraid to be aggressive with him if it’s warranted. He could definitely shoot up the lists this year.

Jeff (Phoenix): 

    Thoughts on the lost season for Eduardo Diaz?

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, you said it. It was a throw-away year. All the tools are still there. He seemed to be trying to make the approach-related adjustments necessary before his injury. We’ll see if he can implement those changes this year.

Zac (NYC): 

    Does the Kelly acquisition mean that Varsho will be moved off catcher more or less full time?

Nick Piecoro: I would guess that in the long term it makes it more likely Varsho plays multiple positions, but I think he was probably fairly likely to do that anyway. Most catchers don’t catch 130 games anymore, so I imagine they keep developing Varsho behind the plate regardless of how well Kelly does this year.

Angie (Denver): 

    Hey thanks for the chat! Who is a good comp for Jazz Chisholm?

Nick Piecoro: A left-handed hitting Javier Baez?

David (Atlanta): 

    With the disclaimer that these things always work themselves out, where might you see Ketel Marte/Jazz Chisholm playing down the road? Ketel is probably AZ’s highest ceiling big leaguer now, with AJ and Goldy out the door.

Nick Piecoro: Chisholm is going to have to learn to be more consistent/focused on defense to stick at short. He has all the ability in the world and can make challenging plays look difficult, he just has to make the routine ones more consistently.

Sam (NYC): 

    What is a reasonable timetable to see Dalton Varsho as Arizona’s Opening Day catcher? Thanks –

Nick Piecoro: I could imagine scenarios where he reaches the big leagues in 2019, but probably 2020 is the more reasonable timetable.

Troy (Chicago): 

    I’ve been following Chisholm all year and he has an exciting skillset. That being said, his K% is a bit worrisome. Do you feel like he can tighten that up or do you feel like he’s always going to be a high K% guy which could impact his ability to reach his ceiling?

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, I think that’s the biggest concern, as well. I think we should keep in mind that he missed almost all of 2017 due to injury and is still very young. But the swing-and-miss in the zone was apparently kind of high, in addition to the strikeout rate overall. He’s a risky profile, but if it all comes together he’ll be a star.

Clayton (Galveston): 

    Where will Andy Young rank? 10-15? Thanks!

Nick Piecoro: Yes, I think he’s somewhere in that range. I’ll be curious to see him. I heard some vastly different reports on his athleticism/defensive ability.

Wild West (Reno): 

    Do you think Kristian Robinson will head to Kane County to start 2019 or stay behind in extended?

Nick Piecoro: Might stay behind but I’d bet he’s there by mid/late May.

Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): 

    Eduardo Diaz had only 120 mostly unproductive ABs this year. What happened?

Nick Piecoro: It was some kind of weird vascular issue that needed surgery. He’s expected to be ready to go for this year.

John (Fl): 

    What are your thoughts on Doug Miroglio? Dbacks catcher of the future?

Nick Piecoro: Miroglio really opened eyes this year and his numbers from Double-A would have looked a lot better if not for a rough final week or so. He’s a good receiver, intelligent, has excellent makeup — folks think at worst he has a backup catcher profile. But if he keeps hitting like he has maybe there’s more in there.

Nate (Diamond): 

    What do you know about Jose Caballero? Looks interesting.

Nick Piecoro: Folks think he might be a little light defensively to project as an everyday shortstop, but he could develop into a useful bench player. Everyone raves about how smart he is as a player, how instinctual.

Nick Piecoro: That’s all I have time for today. Thanks for all the questions.

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