Best Player: Outfielder Mitch Haniger found success after making changes to his swing mechanics last year and continued the overhaul in the offseason, proceeding to have the best offensive season in the Diamondbacks system. He hit .321/.419/.581 combined at Double-A Moblie and Triple-A Reno and earned his first big league callup in August.
“A.J. and I had that conversation in the dugout (during Pollock’s rehab assignment),” Nevin said. “I said, ‘A.J., I watch him play and I see so many things that remind me of you.’ He doesn’t have A.J.’s speed, but his jumps on the ball, his intelligence on the field, the way he runs the bases, just everything. And then you look at the similarities of what the mechanics of the swing are.”
Best Pitcher: Lefthander Anthony Banda arrived at spring training with his fastball suddenly touching the mid-90s and held his velocity throughout the season. The 23-year old was impressive at Mobile, going 6-2, 2.12 with 84 strikeouts in 76.1 innings, and held his own at Reno, going 4-4, 3.67, with 61 strikeouts in 66.2 innings.
Banda, a 2012 10th-round pick out of San Jacinto (Texas), needs to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason and has an outside shot at a September callup. He is on track to crack the majors in 2017.
Keep An Eye On: The Diamondbacks made an upside play when they acquired infielder Dawel Lugo from the Blue Jays last August in exchange for shortstop Cliff Pennington, and the gamble started to pay off this season.
Having shifted from shortstop to third base, the 21-year old Dominican hit .314/.348/.514 at high Class A Visalia and continued to produce at Mobile with a .306/.322/.451 line.
Visalia manager J.R. House said Lugo deserves credit for shedding weight and getting into better playing shape.
“Since spring training, he lost 18 pounds,” House said. “We put him on a diet and our strength coach really did a good job staying on him. It’s tough at times on the road trying to find good stuff to eat, not crushing McDonald’s after the game. He looks like a totally different human being.”