Arizona Diamondbacks 2021 Top MLB Prospects Chat

Nick Piecoro: Hey everyone. Thanks for all the questions. There are a ton in the queue already. Let’s get started.

Owen (Flagstaff, AZ):

     This is the first list I’ve seen Kristian Robinson lower than #1. What is your rational for having guys like Varsho and Perdomo ranked higher than Robinson?

Nick Piecoro: Extreme risk. Lots of swing and miss. There is obviously a lot to like and if it comes together he’s a beast. But … Corbin Carroll is just a few months older than Robinson and seems to be far ahead of him developmentally; Perdomo is said to be a no-doubt shortstop with an excellent approach; and Varsho is a catcher and/or center fielder who had a .900 OPS at Double-A.

Zak (RI):

     Thanks for taking questions. How close was Luis Frias to making the top 10? If he was, was there a reason why he didn’t make the cut?

Nick Piecoro: Not that close, really. Sounded like he got hit kind of hard at the alt site and still has the same sort of developmental questions ahead of him (third pitch, command) that will dictate his future role.

Mike (Honolulu):

     Does Pavin Smith see notable 2021 at-bats with the 2021 D-backs? If so, will he play more corner OF or at 1B?

Nick Piecoro: As of now, it’s hard to see him getting a ton of at-bats, but the versatility he has added gives him more potential avenues to help should the need arise. He really impressed folks in the organization with his outfield defense and what they saw as improved athleticism last year.

KC (Tulsa):

     I’ve heard good things on Tommy Henry from the alternate site.. does he have a chance to be a #3/#4 starter? Any idea where his fastball is coming in? If he can get more velocity seems like he’s got a much higher ceiling than initially expected. Thanks!

Nick Piecoro: Yep, the fastball ticked up this year at the alt site, 93-95 mph. He’s a really, really good athlete, which always gives me pause to put a ceiling on someone, but most people seem to think mid-rotation starter at best. People also seem to think back-end starter at worst.

Owen (Flagstaff, AZ):

     Any reason why Wilderd Patino didn’t crack the top 10? He seems to be an exciting up and coming talent.

Nick Piecoro: He was the type of player most hurt by the lack of a minor league season. He just needs to play and develop. It sounded like he looked fine at instructs but nothing to warrant a jump above more advanced prospects on the list.

Corbin Carroll (Top 25 prospect?):

     Thanks for chatting with us Nick! I was seen just last year in lockstep with Alek Thomas and more of the #5/6 prospect in a very strong system. How much did I impress at the alternate site and instructionals to jump all the way to #1? Is a 60 hit even potentially light with my hand eye coordination and barrel control? A 70/50 hit/power starts to look awfully like a minor league Andrew Benintendi.

Nick Piecoro: Yeah, I think that’s still a decent comp. There doesn’t really seem to be a major weakness in Carroll’s game. Really mature approach, makes adjustments quickly, runs the bases really well, can stick in center field. The arm, I guess, isn’t great. But he has all that other stuff going for him and he’s only 20.

Alex (Pheonix):

     When reading Geraldo Perdomo’s scouting report, the first comp that comes to mind is Didi Gregorius. Is that a potential reaalric ceiling for him? With how good his batting eye and barrel control is, it just feels like he’ll hit for more power as he continues to mature. All in the plus defense at the most premium position, shouldn’t he be a top 50 prospect?

Nick Piecoro: I don’t know if there is quite that much raw power, and Didi was always more grip-it/rip-it than Perdomo is. Perdomo might continue to grow into his frame and add bulk, and you are right, guys with an approach and good bat-to-ball tend to grow into more power.

Matt (SF):

     I read that Corbin Carroll’s average exit velo was already at 90 mph in 2019 after being drafted. He has surely gotten stronger in the past year. How hard was he hitting the ball at the alternate site and instructionals in 2020? With his work ethic and natural ability to barrel up the ball consistently, it feels like he will outperform his tools. Did you ane and DBacks get that impression as well?

Nick Piecoro: It sounded like he was crushing balls at the alt site. It is worth remembering that they were getting tons of at-bats (often one AB an inning) against the same pitchers over and over, so the hitters probably had a bit of an advantage, but Carroll was making quick adjustments and outperforming older/more advanced competition regularly. By all accounts, he was extremely impressive.

Ben (CA):

     Thaks for chatting with us today. Any reports on Ryne Nelson? The lost development time seems especally difficult given his lack of history as a pitcher and reliever risk.

Nick Piecoro: You know, you would think that would be the case, but Nelson had a really good showing at instructs this year and folks came away very encouraged by how far he had come. It’s three legit pitches, and if the command he showed at instructs holds (or further improves) over longer outings/a full season, he’ll shoot up this list next year.

2019 redraft (Best prep hitter?):

     If we were to do a redraft of 2019 would Corbin Carroll be seen as the best prep hitter in the class? He was underestimated due to his size but has showed not only that his hit tool is elite, he can also impact the ball rather than just be a slap hitter who gets on with his speed.

Nick Piecoro: That’s a fun question — and you weren’t the only one in the queue to ask it. Don’t think I’m qualified to answer; that’s a good one for JJ Cooper. But, yes, the size probably played into him getting to the middle of the first round, and while a lot of his extra-base potential might come from stretching singles into doubles and doubles/triples, there’s also some real juice in the bat. Chance to be an exciting player.

Mike (Honolulu):

     Outside the Top 10, do the D-backs have any starting pitcher prospects that project better than a #5 starter? They seem to have a bunch of SP prospects but do any outside the Top 10 stand out?

Nick Piecoro: Conor Grammes is a really interesting one. By all accounts, he looked really, really good at instructional league. Command had improved, stuff was electric. Same caveats apply as with many others like him: He has to do it over five, six innings. He has to do it over a long season. He has to stay healthy. Etc. But the Diamondbacks were betting on athleticism when they took him, he has made big strides already and they’re hoping he can keep on improving.

hal jordan (hawaii):

     thanks for the great info that you guys provide about the prospects for all of the big league teams…about corbin martin: i have seen reports saying his ceiling is at the back end of the rotation and other reports saying his recovery from his physical problems indicate he could reach a ceiling of being a number 2 starter…what do you think?

Nick Piecoro: Most folks seem to think mid-rotation ceiling. Four pitches, solid command, good velocity on the fastball. Just needs to get healthy and stay healthy.

Matt (Denver):

     Any sleepers in the organization you expect to jump into the radar in 2022?

Nick Piecoro: A couple come to mind. A.J. Vukovich looked like a really good hitter in instructional league. Jake McCarthy revamped his swing and hit for more power than before in instructs. Easy to name them since their performances were more recent. Also heard some things about how Alvin Guzman looked in the DR this fall.

Jake (AZ):

     How close was Wilderd Patino to making the list? Did you hear anything about developmental progress he may have made this year? What type of player can he become?

Nick Piecoro: A lot of Patino questions today. It didn’t sound to me like his year was anything special one way or the other. I think all the same things apply about him — great athlete, legit power, chance to be special. But, at least during instructs, he didn’t look particularly good or bad to get people excited that the big breakout is here or disappointed that he’s not progressing like he should. Not say he won’t break out this year. He could. That’s why he’s squarely in our Top 30, in the same range he was last year.

Matt (Pheonix):

     With Carroll proving his hit tool is truly elite this year at the alternate site, where does he begin 2021? Do the Dbacks send him to LoA with the expectation he’ll force his way to HiA and possibly end the year at AA or send him to HiA right away? Either way, does 2023 look like a realistic timeline now for Carroll to be a fixture in the big leagues?

Nick Piecoro: I’m guessing he starts in High-A. And, yeah, 2023 sounds about right.

Christian (Lacey, WA):

     A little surprised to see someone like Pavin Smith in the top 10 over guys like Levi Kelly or Luis afraid. Is this a result of Smith’s more likely safer floor compared to the risk associated with the young arms?

Nick Piecoro: Yes. Smith is a left-handed hitter with a really good approach and some versatility. I feel like he’s a relatively safe bet to be in the big leagues for a while. I’m glad you mentioned Levi Kelly because he had a really impressive year and just barely missed the Top 10. He still has the same starter/reliever questions, but I got the sense there were more people in the organization who think his slider might be so good that he could survive as a rare two-pitch starter. Still, if you’re playing the percentages, you’d bet reliever — and he could be dominant in that role.

Marco (CA):

     Thank you for doing this. Could you please compare Carroll and Robinson in terms of their possible ceilings, and what you think the percentage chance is that they can approach or reach that ceiling?

Nick Piecoro: I know neither of them has a played a full year at a full-season level, but everyone would say Carroll is the safer bet. Look, Robinson has a lot to like: He is mature. He is intelligent. He has a growth mind-set/is driven to be great. He has crazy athleticism/strength. He also comes from a country where he did not face much advanced competition, so it may not be fair to grade him against a guy like Carroll who was on the showcase circuit. Robinson could very well put it all together. It’s just that others appear more likely to do so.

Mike (Honolulu):

     Can you go over the catching depth in the system? Does Daulton Varsho stick at catcher to supplant Stephen Vogt at some point in 2021? Will Jose Herrera ever hit enough? Others in the system?

Nick Piecoro: Herrera, Miroglio, Delasandro. That position is looking light, but it’s not really a concern since they also have Carson Kelly and Varsho as young, big-league caliber guys in the organization.

Seth Beer (AAAA):

     Am I better than this?

Nick Piecoro: Jury’s out. He probably isn’t a fit for the Diamondbacks if there’s no DH in the National League.

Alex (Perdomo’s size):

     Geraldo Perdomo has been listed at 184 for a couple of years now. It was noted he gained 17 lbs of muscle in 2019. Is his real weight more in the 200-205 range now? If so, it sounds like he’s really starting to fill out physically.

Nick Piecoro: He said in the spring he was around 200 pounds and wanted to be about 195 when the season started. I am not sure where he ended up by the fall.

Nick Piecoro: That’ll do it for me. Thanks for all the questions.

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