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State of the Diamondbacks farm: Corner infield

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As we head toward the 2015 MLB draft, neither of the corner infield positions appear to be ones where the Diamondbacks should immediately be needing help from the farm system. But what’s available, in case of need, down on the farm?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Barring a highly-unfortunate incident - likely involving direct action by the paramilitary wing of the Tim Lincecum Fan Club - first-base is occupied by an All-Star candidate for the foreseeable future in Paul Goldschmidt. Meanwhile, the hot corner, if much less of a Sure Thing than Goldie, seems adequately covered going forward for the moment, mostly by Jake Lamb, with a sprinkling of and/or from Yasmany Tomas. That's probably a good thing, as there are only a couple of credible candidates in our minor-league affiliates.

First-base

Triple-A Reno
  • Danny Dorn - July 20, 1984 (minor-league free agent), .463/.483/.707
    Dorn is putting up video-game numbers in Reno. And not even "moderate difficulty" video-game numbers. These are "set at the level where your 80-year-old grandmother can play - and she’s dead" numbers. Had a brief spell in the majors - his first ever, making him the second-oldest debutant this season - finishing with a two-run game tying double off Craig Kimbrel. However, given he has been purely a 1B for the Aces, if we see him again, it’s most likely because something not good has happened to Goldie. But being left-handed helps, so it’s possible we may see him if we revert back to a more standard five-man bench. Just don’t expect him to hit .500.

  • Nick Evans - January 30, 1986 (minor-league free agent), .312/.365/.552
    The man who spawned a 2014 hashtag (#FreeNickEvans) has not been as successful this year with the Aces, his OPS about two hundred points lower, though his RBI are among the Pacific Coast League leaders. Can play both corner-infield spots which does improve his chances, but being right-handed works against him, particularly when Goldie and Tomas are manning them at the big league level.

Double-A Mobile
  • Rudy Flores - December 12, 1990 (21st round, 2012), .253/.313/.407
    The first "true" prospect is the 24-year-old Flores, who has progressed steadily through the affiliates since being drafted. Has cut back on the strikeouts somewhat, from the hefty 33% rate in 2014, and the walks are up a bit. But after hitting 28 homers last season, he has found them harder to come by in Mobile, and he’s not exactly young for the level either. Needs to kick it up the rest of the way if he’s to progress further up the prospect ladder.

High-A Visalia
  • Kevin Cron - February 17, 1993 (14th round, 2014), .262/.304/.464
    Brother of Angels 1st baseman, C.J. Cron, the 22-year-old Kevin Cron debuted an .854 OPS in 2014 between Missoula and Hillsboro into a promotion to High-A Visalia. He’s facing his first struggles there however, striking out over a quarter of the time but still showing the power he showed in college, with 6 homers already in 150+ at-bats. If he gets the strikeout problems under control and continues to show his plus power, he’s a lock for a bench job in the MLB.

  • Steve McQuail - June 10, 1989 (minor-league free agent), .231/.336/.324
    A cup of coffee with Reno last year, but that was the first time in his career above A-ball. Signed out of indy ball for 2014, McQuail is still very old for his level, even after his promotion from Kane County (which seemed unexpected, given his .696 OPS there). He will turn 26 in a couple of weeks, and there are eight men on our current 25-man roster who are younger. Seems unlikely to progress much higher.

A-ball Kane County
  • Marty Herum - December 16, 1991 (undrafted free agent), .333/.360/.440
    After going unselected, Herum signed as a free-agent with the D-backs in July 2013, Herum is doing better in his third season, and second go-around at the level, after a .673 OPS in A-ball last year, and also with the AZL Diamondbacks in 2013. The peripherals have also improved, with a better walk-rate and fewer strikeouts. Split time almost evenly between the corner infield spots in 2014, but has been much more a first-baseman this season.

Third-base

Triple-A Reno
  • Jamie Romak - September 30, 1985 (minor-league free agent), .240/.331/.370
    This is Romak’s thirteenth minor-league season since being drafted as a 17-year-old by Atlanta in 2003. He did finally reach the majors last year with the Dodgers, after 4,306 minor-league PAs, but it would take something severe for Romak to figure into the Diamondbacks’ plans this season, especially once Lamb returns to full health. Curiously, has been almost as much at second-base as third for Reno this year, despite the former being a position he’d never previously played as a professional.

  • Kevin Frandsen - May 24, 1982 (minor-league free agent), .297/.329/.311
    Saltalamacchia isn’t the Aces’ only player with major-league postseason experience! Okay, here it’s a single PA, with Washington in last year’s NLDS, for the second-oldest player on Reno’s roster. He does have positional flexibility, already appearing at both corner outfield spots as well as first, second and third. But no-one slugging less than .300 with the Aces should be keeping their suitcase packed in expectation of an imminent call-up.

Double-A Mobile
  • Brandon Drury - August 21, 1992 (from Atlanta for Justin Upton), .281/.293/.376
    It’s curious: how we tend to think of Drury as a potential future replacement for Aaron Hill at second, yet he has played more games at third for the BayBears than second. Brandon had a really slow start, going 1-for-24, but has picked things up since. However, he still has only four walks in 188 PA this year, and his power has all but evaporated; Drury has 23 home-runs last season, but after 44 games this year, has precisely one long ball to his name.

High-A Visalia
  • George Roberts - April 17, 1990 (26th round, 2013), .286/.360/.403
    Was on quite a fast track last year, starting in Low-A, going through A-ball and ending the season in High-A. He’s now repeating with Visalia, and is producing at about the same kind of level. He needs to get his power up if he’s to have any hope of progressing: that’s a key component in the corner infield spots, but Roberts has less than a handful of homers since the beginning of last year.

  • Kevin Medrano - May 21, 1990 (18th round, 2012), .298/.380/.415
    Also repeating the level from last year, much of the above goes for Medrano, who is virtually the same age as Roberts, and is also looking for his first home-run of the season. So far, actually has more walks than strikeouts, but this may just be small sample-size, given last season for the same team, Medrano’s K:BB ratio was a more normal 62:28. He may have acquired unexpected plate-discipline skills over the winter, but I’m not counting on it.

A-ball Kane County
  • Cody Regis - June 8, 1991 (undrafted free agent), .331/.388/.400
    A home-state kid, born in Tucson, though he went to UCLA where he was part of the College World Series winning team in 2013. However, he went undrafted, and almost gave up on baseball, before rediscovering his love of the game in an unlikely place: Paris. The one in France, not Texas. His manager there then got a job in the Pirates organization, helping Regis get a tryout with the D-backs, which led to his contract with the Cougars. And Regis has got off to a good start in his first-season of pro-ball, albeit with a likely unsustainably high BABIP certainly playing a significant part in the average.

  • Jose Munoz - December 28, 1993 (2nd round, 2012), .241/.307/.367
    Munoz has been getting work in as Kane County’s third baseman. While prove to striking out, Munoz also shows a somewhat more developed ability to take the walk. While his hit tool has not quite lived up to the original hope, he remains a steady riser through the ranks and could conceivably see Mobile by the end of the season. Given the presences of Tomas, Lamb, and Drury all ahead of him and looking like long-term solutions Munoz will have to improve greatly with the bat before he shows much of a future with the team. Of course, a breakout season at the plate could change things at an given time.