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Track Record: At a showcase for Lucius Fox in the Bahamas in February 2015, D-backs scout Craig Shipley was as intrigued by Fox at shortstop as he was by Chisholm, who was playing second base. Shipley saw Chisholm again a few weeks later, this time at short, and, impressed by Chisholm's actions and athleticism, wound up signing him for $200,000 that July. He has quickly turned himself into a bargain. After an impressive debut in Rookie-level Missoula, where he hit .281 with nine homers in 249 at-bats, Chisholm played in just 29 games in 2017 before a torn meniscus ended his season. He made up for lost time in 2018, with a solid three and a half months at low Class A Kane County followed by a monster six weeks in the high Class A California League. The 25 home runs he hit in 2018 set a single-season franchise record for a shortstop and rank in the top five among all minor league shortstops since 2005. He finished with a good showing in a limited role in the Arizona Fall League.
Scouting Report: Chisholm has an exciting array of tools. He has an athletic build and strong hands, and he generates a smooth, lefthanded uppercut swing that produces loud contact with easy power. His approach is aggressive—sometimes too aggressive. Coaches say he has a tendency to try too hard to generate power to his pull side, saying his swing can get too steep and his approach too pull-conscious. They believe when he keeps his approach simple, the power comes naturally to all fields. He strikes out a lot—nearly 30 percent of the time—and his high swing-and-miss rate on pitches in the zone is concerning. He also struggled against lefthanded pitchers. Defensively, Chisholm has everything it takes to stick at shortstop but needs to work on his consistency. He has smooth, flashy actions but is prone to lapses in concentration, making highlight-reel plays before committing errors on routine ones. He's an above-average to plus runner and stole 17 bases in 21 tries. Chisholm has a bubbling, energetic personality and is brimming with confidence. Coaches and team executives say he continued to work hard despite being disappointed about starting the season in Kane County and repeating the Midwest League.
The Future: Chisholm is a high-risk but high-reward stock. He has some rough edges to smooth over, but if it comes together he could be a shortstop with 20-20 potential. Parts of his game lack maturity, which could come in time. He could open 2019 at Double-A Jackson.
Track Record: Duplantier turned in one of the more dominant minor league seasons of the past 25 years in 2017, but a hamstring injury and a bout with right biceps tendinitis limited him to just 74 innings at Double-A Jackson in 2018. Given his injury history, the D-backs exercised caution and brought him back slowly. Duplantier made up 21.2 innings with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League.
Scouting Report: Duplantier still has the best stuff of any starter in the system. His legit four-pitch mix begins with a lively fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s. Scouts and coaches say his slider evolved into his best secondary option, with his curveball and changeup both average to plus at times. He's cerebral and inquisitive, and coaches say he understands how best to use his stuff to exploit hitters' weaknesses. He has average to above-average command and control from a low three-quarters arm slot, though his walk rate ticked up in 2018. For some scouts, Duplantier's recent arm issues made it harder to overlook his funky arm action.
The Future: Scouts who like Duplantier see a mid-rotation starter and perhaps a little more, but some remain spooked by the injuries that date to his days at Rice and wonder if he's a breakdown candidate. If he keeps taking the ball he can shed that reputation, not to mention possibly reach the majors in 2019.
Track Record: After tearing up the Horizon League his junior year at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Varsho, the son of big leaguer Gary Varsho, was taken 68th overall by the Diamondbacks in 2017. In his first full pro season, he jumped to a fast start for high Class A Visalia before needing surgery for a broken right hamate in June. He returned in August, and after a slow two and a half weeks, he hit like had before the injury over his final 10 games.
Scouting Report: Varsho has a compact swing, an aggressive-yet-mature approach and a knack for finding the barrel, with scouts seeing good extension that generates loft, giving him average power with the chance for more. There are still questions about his ability to stick at catcher, but he did win over some converts in 2018. He's athletic and energetic behind the plate, and his quick transfer and throwing accuracy make up for average-at-best arm strength. Some scouts say his receiving can occasionally appear raw. He's the rare catcher who also is an above-average to plus runner.
The Future: Even those unsure if Varsho can catch believe he'll be a big leaguer, saying that his athleticism should allow him to handle second base or the outfield, with some saying the D-backs could use him at multiple positions the way the Dodgers have with Austin Barnes.
Track Record: Drafted as a third baseman by the Cardinals, Kelly converted to catcher in 2014 and was hailed as Yadier Molina's heir apparent. But with Molina showing no signs of letting up, the Cardinals wanted Kelly playing everyday and sent him back to Triple-A Memphis in 2018 for a third straight season. In December, the Cardinals traded Kelly to the D-backs as part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade.
Scouting Report: Kelly is athletic in the box with a sound swing, a good approach and occasional power. While he hasn't had a chance to show it yet in the majors, he projects as a bottom-of-the-order hitter with on-base skills. Some evaluators believe his transition to catching halted his offensive development, so much so that his bat could have more upside. Kelly has long been regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the minors. He is a good receiver with a strong arm and an athletic base, and his makeup and baseball intelligence give him a chance to impact all aspects of the game.
The Future: The trade to Arizona gives Kelly a path to an everyday job. With only Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy ahead of him, Kelly should be in the big league picture as early as 2019.
Track Record: Signed for $70,000 in 2016, Perdomo exhibited advanced plate discipline in the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut the following year. He continued to show a discerning eye in 2018, but he added some offensive impact as well, emerging as one of the D-backs' most intriguing young prospects.
Scouting Report: Perdomo has an athletic frame with a high waist and an upper body that should be able to handle added bulk. He has a way of gliding on defense, and his soft hands, plus arm and instincts lead scouts to believe he'll have no trouble sticking at shortstop. A switch-hitter, he has plus bat speed, good bat-to-ball skills and pull power that could grow into more. Perdomo was overly passive in the DSL in 2017 but became more aggressive as he started facing better strike-throwers. Scouts say he's a slightly above-average runner. He impressed coaches by making big strides learning English.
The Future: Perdomo might not have the huge ceiling of Jazz Chisholm or Kristian Robinson, but scouts see a talented, instinctual player in the mold of Tony Fernandez. Low Class A Kane County is next.
Track Record: The D-backs signed Robinson for $2.5 million in 2017 and fully expected his first pro season to begin in the Dominican Summer League. But he so impressed throughout the spring, with a mature approach on and off the field, that he started in the Rookie-level Arizona League, then advanced to the Pioneer League to finish.
Scouting Report: Robinson has a strong, physical build and looks far more developed than his age would suggest. He has good pitch-recognition skills and some feel to hit, though some scouts see him as a power-over-hit type for now. His power could be huge, and he showed signs of tapping into it in 2018, driving balls to all fields. Given that he's a native of the Bahamas and had limited exposure to tough pitching as an amateur, he might have even more room to grow than others his age. He has the instincts, speed and athleticism to stick in center field, but his ultimate home could depend on how his body develops.
The Future: Though he has a long way to go, the sky is the limit in terms of Robinson's upside. Some scouts see flashes of Andruw Jones or Adam Jones if he can remain in center, while others see his physical development turning him into a Jermaine Dye or Jorge Soler type on a corner. If he doesn't open in low Class A Kane County, he'll likely get there at some point early in the 2019 season.
Track Record: The Yankees traded Widener to the D-backs in February 2018 as part of the three-team Steven Souza Jr. trade also involving the Rays. Widener turned in the most consistent season of any D-backs starter in 2018, earning the organization's pitcher of the year award while leading the Double-A Southern League in strikeouts and WHIP and finishing second in ERA.
Scouting Report: Widener's success is in large part built off a dominant fastball. The pitch sits around 92-93 mph and usually tops out near 95, and he generates lots of swings and misses with it, including up in the strike zone. His secondary stuff was less consistent. His changeup improved in 2018, going from a traditional velocity-separation pitch to a power change out of the Zack Greinke mold that's more about disrupting timing and inducing ground balls. It became his best secondary offering, moving ahead of a slider that has some bite but at times can be more like a slurve.
The Future: Widener is beloved for his competitiveness, but he does have some effort and aggression in his delivery and a less-than-ideal arm stroke. Combine that with the inconsistent secondary stuff and some see his ultimate home being in the bullpen. He'll get every chance to start, however, and likely will move to Triple-A Reno in 2019.
Track Record: The son of White Sox strength coach Allen Thomas, Alek bypassed a commitment to Texas Christian to sign with the D-backs for $1.2 million as the 63rd overall pick. He quickly won over fans inside and outside the organization with his athleticism, aggressiveness and ability to hit at his first two stops as a pro.
Scouting Report: Thomas is undersized—he's generously listed at 5-foot-11—but has a strong build and is already one of the best pure athletes in the system. His swing can get long and he might need to tone down some aspects of it, but he has an innate ability to find the barrel. Projections on his power were mixed, but some believe he could eventually reach 10-15 home runs. Scouts believe he should stick in center field, where he has above-average range. His arm is fringe-average at best. He's a good runner with solid instincts on the bases, though he needs to work on his basestealing.
The Future: Thomas' size might have been the biggest reason he wasn't drafted higher, and is the main reason some scouts are reluctant to build in too much projection in his game. Regardless, those who like him draw comparisons with Adam Eaton, Brett Gardner and Ender Inciarte. Thomas has a chance to open 2019 at low Class A Kane County.
Track Record: A wrist injury limited McCarthy to just 20 games during his junior season, but his strong track record allowed him to maintain his draft status. He signed with the D-backs for $1.65 million as the 39th overall pick, following his older brother, Joe, on the same path to the pros from the University of Virginia. He showed off a well-rounded skill set during a 55-game pro debut in the short-season Northwest League.
Scouting Report: McCarthy has an athletic frame with room to add strength. He has had success using a simple, contact-oriented swing, but it's somewhat stiff and upper-body driven, and the D-backs would like to see him become looser and more rhythmic while using his lower half more. He runs well and takes good routes to balls, and some scouts believe he'll easily stick in center field with a chance to be a plus defender there. His arm is fringe-average. He is considered a hard worker and excellent teammate and is said to have great makeup.
The Future: Though McCarthy is lefthanded, he has an all-around game that's reminiscent of A.J. Pollock when he was drafted. Most see McCarthy's floor as a fourth outfielder but with a chance to play every day, and if, like Pollock, he can make adjustments and learn to tap into more power, he could develop into an everyday player.
Track Record: Alexander slipped in the 2018 draft, perhaps due to some combination of a high asking price as well as concerns about how often he swung and missed his senior year at IMG Academy. After signing with the D-backs for $500,000, he quickly quieted any worries about his bat, performing so well in his pro debut he helped ease the sting of the club's inability to sign first-round pick Matt McLain.
Scouting Report: Alexander, whose dad Charles pitched parts of three seasons in the Indians' system and whose older brother C.J. is in the Braves organization, has a lean, athletic frame and an arm that rates near the top of the scouting scale. His swing is consistent and under control, with no wasted movement, and he has good finish at the end, prompting some scouts to envision him growing into power to all fields, though he does tend to roll over on pitches with his top hand. He has good instincts in the field but isn't as fluid and easy as shortstops often are, leading some to envision a shift to third base or second base.
The Future: Alexander has a chance to open next season at low Class A Kane County and could develop into an infielder in the J.J. Hardy or Chris Taylor mold.
-- Reports written by Nick Piecoro
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