D-backs Prospect Dominic Canzone Continues Breakout In Arizona Fall League

Image credit: (Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—On a Salt River team loaded with top prospects and high draft picks, it would be easy to overlook Dominic Canzone.

The D-backs outfield prospect is making it harder and harder to do that with his play.

Canzone continued his torrid performance in the Arizona Fall League by going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored to lead Salt River to a 12-5 win over Surprise in seven innings on Monday.

Canzone is now batting .321/.418/.483 in the AFL. That comes after he hit .302/.375/.522 with 14 home runs, 52 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in only 79 games while rising to Double-A in his first full season this year.

“We’ve got a lot of great players, but I know the type of hitter I am and I know the type of work I’ve put in with the great coaching staff that we’ve had,” Canzone said. “I just feel like this is where I should be.”

Canzone, 24, has made a habit of providing big-time production while flying under the radar. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder batted .336 in his three-year career at Ohio State and led the Big Ten Conference in hits, runs, slugging percentage and total bases as a junior in 2019, but he wasn’t drafted until the eighth round by the D-backs.

He posted an .853 OPS in his pro debut after signing to continue his longstanding track record of hitting. His anticipated first full season in 2020 was delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic, but he quickly made up for lost time.

Canzone missed most of this season’s first month at High-A Hillsboro after breaking his pinky finger sliding into second base, but he still earned a promotion to Double-A Amarillo by late July. While Amarillo is an extremely hitter-friendly environment, Canzone flourished even in that context—his .354 batting average led the team after he joined.

“When he came up from High-A, he hit every ball pitched to him,” said D-backs third base prospect Buddy Kennedy, a teammate of Canzone’s at Hillsboro, Amarillo and Salt River this year. “I was like ‘How do you do that?’ He was like ‘Hey man, just go have fun.’ Just kind of seeing him do his thing having fun, getting fastballs to hit, spitting on breaking balls and all that stuff, it’s definitely special to watch him do what he’s doing.”

Canzone got his latest outburst started by squaring up a 95 mph fastball from Nationals righthander Jackson Rutledge and lining it hard into center field for a single in the first inning. He followed up with another single through the right side in the fourth inning that left his bat at 110 mph.

Canzone saved his best for last, launching a towering two-run home run to center field in the sixth inning off a 95 mph fastball from Yankees righthander Tanner Myatt. The ball traveled an estimated 441 feet and left Canzone’s bat at 109.7 mph.

“It felt good to get ahold of one,” Canzone said. “I’ve been really trying to focus on getting the ball in the air more. That was my biggest weakness kind of early in the year. I was hitting balls hard but they were kind of just lower trajectory. I do a lot more damage when I can get it in the air, so I’ve been working on the high finish every single day. That’s my biggest thing.”

Canzone put in a lot of work to get to this point. He returned to Ohio State to finish his degree in sports management during the coronavirus shutdown and spent the year lifting weights, doing swing work and taking live batting practice with other pros at Bo Jackson Elite Sports Development outside Columbus. Combined with his rehab from his broken pinky and his swing adjustments to get the ball in the air more this year, nothing has come easy for Canzone the last few seasons.

In many ways, that’s what’s made his success all the more rewarding.

“Overall it’s been a great year,” Canzone said, “and I’m just happy to be where I am.”

Now, the results are showing on a prominent stage. For both his teammates and casual observers, it’s becoming clear Canzone is a prospect worth taking note of.

“Just seeing what he’s become, it’s very special,” Kennedy said. “I’m glad to be here to be a part of it.”

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