2023 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects Chat

Nick Piecoro hosted a chat to discuss the D-backs system. You can read the transcript here.

Nick Piecoro: Hey everyone. Lots of good questions already in the queue. Let’s get to it.

Erik (Chicago):

     What are some of the things holding Brandon Pfaadt back from being mentioned with the upper echelon of pitching prospects? Seems like from a stat line perspective he should be close with the numbers he put up in Reno and leading MiLB in Ks.

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, this was something that came up with scouts and player development folks I talked to. The thinking from some evaluators is that there is no real wipeout pitch, no overwhelming option. But the question for many became, at what point are the results just so good that you would be selling him short to think the total package wouldn’t be elite in the majors? Those numbers he put up in extreme hitting environments were incredible. So, yes, he doesn’t have the super high-carry fastball or the nastiest slider you’ll see, but he has a lot of above average pitches/characteristics, along with command, acumen, etc., and the sum of the parts has a chance to be really, really good, imo.

Zac (NYC):

     Hi there! Cristofer Torin is extremely young, but he played very well in the DSL. Did he crack the top-30? Does he have the potential to jump onto more radars in 2023?

Nick Piecoro: I’m honestly not sure where Torin ended up on the list after going through the editing process, but he had no trouble at all cracking the Top 30 for me; I think at one point I had him in the late-teens. He’s a really interesting player — sounds like a for-sure shortstop with really good bat control, contact skills, zone awareness/swing decisions. I would say the thing that gives me some hesitancy projecting on the offensive impact is what looks like average at best bat speed, but maybe that improves as he adds strength. I think the floor is pretty high for someone his age — like, maybe there’s a decent chance he’s a utility guy at worst — just not sure about the ceiling yet.

Nate (Sacramento, CA):

     Given the rich depth of the DBacks farm I understand why Cecconi didn’t crack the top 10. Still, I thought he had a promising 2022 and possesses middle of the rotation upside. Where does he stack in this system? What’s the next step in his development? Has he surpassed draft mate Bryce Jarvis?

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, I thought he had a solid year given the pitching environment in Amarillo. Folks say he has elite stuff early in games but needs to find a way to maintain it deeper into outings. Easy to understand why some think he ends up in relief, especially with guys like Pfaadt, Nelson, Jameson and Henry ahead of him in the pecking order for rotation opportunities and Walston right there at the same level.

Frederick (Boston):

     Hi Nick, thank you for the chat today! If Deyvison De Los Santos can raise his hit tool to a 50 or even 55 what type of upside as a player would he have and do you think that is possible?

Nick Piecoro: Considering the guy is a .300 hitter in his minor league career, yeah, I do think it is possible. It seems like he hasn’t really been punished yet for the swing decisions. I’m curious to see if he is capable of making the adjustments necessary once he reaches levels at which pitchers can routinely execute pitches to exploit his aggressiveness. I think I’ve used Miguel Sano as a comp a couple of times in De Los Santos’ report. Maybe a Marcell Ozuna type bat?

Mary (England):

     Manuel Pena was signed a couple years back and I haven’t heard much from him since. Can you give us an update on his development?

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, he made the Top 30. Some folks in player development thought he made big strides this year. I really like the swing. He has really good bat speed. Seems like he has a chance to impact the ball, especially against righties. He has work to do defensively. It looks to most like a second baseman long term. He gets high marks for his maturity and work ethic, so that should help his chances to get the most out of his abilities.

Molly B. (New Jersey):

     What percent chance do you think De Los Santos can play 3B in the majors for at least the start of his career? Is it like a Devers situation or Vladdy Jr. situation? Thanks!

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, probably somewhere in that range. We’ll have to see how long it takes him and who else is here when he arrives. Could he play a fringe average third base in the majors? Maybe. The hands work well. Enough arm. Range will be the question. I’m guessing there will always be better defensive options. It could end up being a matter of how the pieces end up fitting together on a roster. Like, if Lawlar moves to third or someone else already has first base nailed down, or maybe how desperately they want to chase offense in a lineup. Another thing to keep in mind is he is a hard worker and really wants to be able to stick at third; maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to say he can’t improve, especially since he’s still a teenager.

Taylor V (Seattle, WA):

     Any hope left for Connor Grammes becoming at least a decent RP?

Nick Piecoro: I think there is. He’s a really good athlete with explosive pure stuff. In a sense, the thesis is still intact from when they drafted him. He just needs innings to try to put it all together. He came back from surgery last year and the delivery was out of whack. We’ll see if he can find consistency.

Tyler (NJ):

     What’s the word on Yu-Min Lin? It seems like he’s the standout young pitcher of the system going into the year


Mike Hazen (Phoenix):

     How close was Yu-Min Lin from making the list? And what can you tell us about him?

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, he opened eyes last year. He has a deep repertoire, really good feel for pitching, can really spin it. I guess the only thing that gives you some pause is the below average velocity. He is still young and small so he could in theory add some size and maybe a couple ticks to his fastball. But there just aren’t a whole lot of frontline starters that average 89.5 mph with their fastball. I think I slotted him in the 15-20 range for that reason. Perhaps it ends up being light.

CD (Cave Creek, AZ):

     Alek Thomas seemed like a cinch to be a big part of the DBacks future but after struggling this summer it feels like he’s being written off as future starter and possible all-star player in his prime. What does he need to do to get back to those expectations and is it realistic that he does?

Nick Piecoro: Probably comes down to making better swing decisions. I think he would probably admit he got himself out a lot last year. Not just swinging at pitches off the plate but offering at ones he couldn’t really do much with. Maybe he can make swing adjustments to handle certain pitches better, but I feel like the least invasive fix would be to his approach. It sure seems like the Varsho trade signals the Diamondbacks still fully believe Thomas can make those adjustments. I think we should probably keep in mind that last year was his first taste of the majors and most guys need some time to figure things out, including Varsho.

James (San Diego, CA):

     If feels like people are quick to credit Carroll’s power output to friend home field and league parks. Personally I think it’s more about managing expectations about what type of player you think he’s going to be. Is there anyone in particular past or present that reminds you of Carroll. Personally I see a ceiling of Trea Turner and a floor of Starling Marte’s down years.

Nick Piecoro: If you watch Carroll play you can see the bat speed and power he generates are legit. In earlier handbooks, the comps I used were Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury, just based on what evaluators had said. But those guys got to their power almost exclusively to the pull side; Carroll can hit balls out to all fields. I’m not sure what the best comp is, but he seems like a pretty unique player to me given his size and potential offensive output. 

Lou (Philadelphia):

     Does the disappointing second half for Alek Thomas, and the glut of OF talent in the DBacks system, relegate him at the tender age of 22 to a 4th/5th? Put on your GM hat and tell which MLB organizations should have an interest in this kid, who shows plus defense, good contact ability, but suspect pop and barrel rates?

Nick Piecoro: Quickly on this: I think the Varsho trade means the Diamondbacks are no longer open to moving Thomas — or any of their other outfielders — anytime soon.

Carlos (Chandler):

     Is Walston ever going to add velocity? I get he’s 21, but he was also drafted four years ago now. It is kind of concerning, no?

Nick Piecoro: That’s a fair point. The good thing is that it’s in there. He can hit 95-96. He just hasn’t been able to tap into it consistently to where he can sit in that 93-94 range. There are many who think he still has room to add weight, whether it’s pure bulk or muscle, to his frame, and that with that the velocity will come. Like you said, he’s still 21; he may have a lot of growing/maturing to do from a physical perspective.

Evan (New York):

     Can you give us an update on Kristian Robinson? I believe I read he is eligible to start playing baseball again this year in the US. Has he missed too much time to ever conceivably be considered a prospect again?

Nick Piecoro: Just picking this one out of several questions about Robinson… Last I heard, they are still waiting for his legal stuff to get cleared up. As always they’re hoping for the best. I thought long and hard about whether to consider him a prospect still and decided to keep him on the list for a few reasons. He just turned 22, so he’s not old, like college senior age. Unlike college players, he has already demonstrated he can hit pro pitching. And when he is cleared he’ll still immediately rank among the toolsiest guys in the system, I would think. Lots of guys have had long layoffs from the game (Josh Hamilton) or from regular at-bats (Rick Ankiel, David Peralta) and wound up being productive big leaguers. Robinson has been able to see *some* live pitching at the facility the past few years. Obviously there are huge questions — and there were questions about his game before all this, namely his ability to handle spin — and I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it all coming together, but I don’t know if I would say the time off is an immediate disqualifier.

Cooper (Mesa):

     Can you compare and contract Ivan Melendez and Deyvison De Los Santos? They both seem very similar to me, except that De Los Santos is younger and at a higher level.

Nick Piecoro: Melendez seems to have a far more disciplined approach at the plate and has already learned to tap into his raw power in games consistently while De Los Santos is still figuring that out. Yeah, there are some similarities here. I feel like De Los Santos has the higher upside, having performed really well as a pro already and doing it at such a young age.

Duncan (the ocean):

     What’s up with Jarvis? It sounds like he still has excellent stuff, but he keeps getting hit hard. I get Amarillo is awful to pitch in, but still. Is the team thinking about a bullpen conversion anytime soon?

Nick Piecoro: It’s all about extension with him. His only gets a tick over 5 feet of extension, which makes his 95-98 mph fastball play much less effectively than you’d expect. So the questions become, can he improve his extension? And if not, can he develop a good enough two-seamer? He does have things going for him: his changeup and slider are plus pitches. His curveball could be plus, as well. It’s enough of a repertoire that it could probably work in a pitch-backward relief role even without major improvements with the fastball. Maybe the bullpen is the likely long-term spot for him at this point, but I don’t think they’ll give up on him starting just yet.

Warren (New London):

     This is a really exciting top 4, though it does seem to fall off quite a bit after that. Do you think there’s any chance Druw Jones ends up something like Daz Cameron: not quite the athlete that his father was, and with too much swing and miss to make up for it? I’m thinking not, since for one thing Druw is leaner than his father, but with no pro data to look at one naturally worries.

Nick Piecoro: I’m not sure I agree with your first point. I guess it falls off because those first four all rank among the Top 25 prospects in the majors, but the starting pitchers are really interesting, and two of them have already come up and shown they can get guys out at the major league level. So it’s not like it’s a bad system beyond the first four. Anyway, the folks that saw Druw Jones as an amateur do not believe that is the likely outcome. He didn’t chase much, he didn’t swing and miss much, he hit velocity, he hit spin, etc. But, yes, it’s something of an unknown until he does it in pro ball. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Corbin Carroll (2023 NL ROY?):

     Thanks for chatting with us today NIck. Is it fair to say Corbin Carroll is the front runner for NL ROY going into the 2023 season? Having his rookie status preserved in 2022, Carroll will be taking over a full work load this year. With his hitability and surprising power do you think a triple slash of .280/.350/.500 along with 20 HRs and 20 SBs is a realistic goal?

Nick Piecoro: I don’t know about him being a frontrunner and I don’t want to be predicting stat lines, but I would not at all be surprised if he won ROY and put together that kind of well-rounded production. I do think we should probably recognize that he could struggle at the outset like many young players do — and if that happens it’s probably not worth panicking about. But his brief time in the majors last year was pretty impressive. He was getting inconsistent at-bats, never really caught fire and still put up a really good line.

John (Nashville):

     Do any of that lower tier of pitching prospects (Savino, Hill, Patrick, Albright, Diaz, Pe3rdom) stand out at all?

Nick Piecoro: Diaz was the only one of those guys you named to make our Top 30. He might end up being a reliever long term but he has pretty interesting stuff, including a fastball in the 96-99 mph range and some feel to spin it. I think the control/command probably points him more to the bullpen right now, but he does not have many miles on his arm, so maybe there’s more room for growth than you’d normally think for a pitcher of his age/background. Another guy that I am intrigued by is Spencer Giesting. The debut was not great from a results perspective, but he looks projectable and has a feel to spin it.

Larry (Phoenix):

     Not exactly a baseball question, but I am curious about the rumors the team was interested in Bogaerts and Swanson. Is ownership willing to spend on a big name free agent?

Nick Piecoro: My read on it is that if the right guy were to come along, Kendrick would maybe stretch the budget. But that might not mean the money is there to be spent on just anyone.

Al (NC):

     Will Lawler remain at SS?

Nick Piecoro: There is some question about this. He did show significant improvement as the season went along last year. He seems to have all the tools/ability to do it.

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

Comments are closed.

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