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SnakePit Round Table: The Arizona Diamondbacks and Right-field, Part 2

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We continue our look at right-field, with some thoughts on 2016 and how the pieces fit together.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

freeland1787: I like Jim's idea the best. I'll go with that.

Will he be able to handle the position full-time in 2016?

Preston: See my last sentence above. I'd like to think he could be a bit mediocre, but my fear is that he will be a complete drain on the team. He'd either need to improve his defense a lot (which getting in shape would help with) or turn into a .300/.400/.500 guy to replace the value Inciarte provided.

Makakilo: Yes. For the coaches, for his teammates, and for Yasmany Tomas, his success must happen. It is imperative. What are five of the challenges?

  1. He hits the ball hard (his average exit velocity exceeded the league average in 15 of 25 weeks). I see two ways to apply this skill - make more contact and hit more extra base hits. What are the challenges? First, have patience to wait for a pitch he can smash. Second, see the pitches better and get ahead in the count (does he need to swing at 43% of the pitches outside the zone?). Third, extend his power hitting zone from the inner ⅔ of the plate to include the outer ⅓ of the plate. More specifically, low and away is the needed improvement because that's the location of 51% of his outside-the-strike-zone pitches. Fourth, take advantage of opportunities to hit line drives and grounders down the third base line, which a spray chart shows has better results than other locations.
  2. He has a strong throwing arm. That is a defense skill. Can his fielding improve? Maybe by taking time to thoroughly learn many small but important basics of fielding, his fielding will greatly increase in value. I can think of three basics: learn unique aspects of Chase Field's outfield, learn to get a better first step, and know each hitter's tendencies.
  3. As experience and understanding increase, plate discipline will likely improve. When Tomas has a slump, will he return to bad habits? In the movie Major League, when a player struggled, he was told to go back to what got him to the majors - maybe not such a good idea? A better approach is constant improvement and make adjustments as pitchers make adjustments to how they pitch to Tomas.
  4. A relaxed player is a confident player. As Tomas experiences high levels of mental and physical changes on the road to being the Diamondbacks' right fielder of the future, can he balance the appropriate tension level with relaxed self confidence?
  5. Physical conditioning will be high at the start of the season. How will Tomas keep in shape through the entire season? Can he maintain the healthy habits of the off-season and spring training?

Piratedan7: Have to reference coach Herm Edwards, that's why they play the games. We have to wait and see.

Steven: From the limited news we've heard from him, he's been working hard in preparation to be that full-time player and the team needs him to be that player if they're going to take the leap into the playoffs.

Jim: The kid gloves are off now. We dealt Inciarte to make room and Tomas will be paid $7.5 million this season, more than any position player bar Aaron Hill - so he needs to start producing at an appropriate level. I hope he shows up to spring training in better shape than at the new uniform show, where he looked to have gained weight over the end of the last year, which is the last thing he needs. We'll see: the worst-case scenario - and a real possibility - is that a very significant chunk of the improvement in our starting pitching will be drained by Tomas's replacing Inciarte. We don't have the room to be particularly patient, I suspect.

freeland1787: It's make or break for him. The first thing he needed to do this offseason was get in better shape. Hopefully now that he is in better shape that he isn't a defensive liability. He needs experience playing in the OF so he gets better at tracking down fly balls and not airmailing the cut-off man. Overall what will carry him is the production at the plate. He needs to do better than what he did in 2015 or the same thing will happen again, where a young guy takes over for him and Tomas is on the bench again.

What happens if he can't cut it?

Preston: Best case scenario, Socrates Brito steps in and plays like Ender Inciarte. Worst case scenario, the team keeps sending him out there and right field is the 2016 version of second base. That's a big problem, because second base also looks like it could be the 2016 version of second base.

freeland1787: The Dbacks will try Todd Glaesmann, Socrates Brito, and/or Zach Borenstein and keep the guy that sticks.

Makakilo: If he can't cut it, I agree with Preston that worst case would be to keep sending Tomas out to right field. I see two approaches: 1) option Tomas to the minors so he can work on his weaknesses every day and he can quickly return to the majors with effectiveness, and 2) platoon Tomas while he works on his weaknesses. The first option would be best if it improves Tomas the quickest and if the fourth outfielder is ready for prime time.

Piratedan7: Next man up, Socrates Brito, and if Brito can't handle the pressure, hello Todd Glaesmann.

Steven: He'll receive the Rubby de la Rosa treatment and continue to go out there, despite the results. There's too much invested in him to not trust the process.

Jim: I disagree, respectfully, with Steven. Brito will replace him. As mentioned, I think we'll have a quick hook too - it's clear this team is in "win now" mode, and that doesn't allow time for learning curves

Here are our RF prospects by age (including the now-traded Daniel Palka!). Anyone of interest?
Name            Age  Lev  PA  R   H HR SB CS BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Juan Araujo      17  FRk 308 39  74  2  5  7 21  65 .269 .338 .396 .734
Gabriel Guerrero 21   AA 297 29  64  5  8  2 11  60 .226 .256 .367 .623
Jason Morozowski 21   Rk 272 37  70  6  8  4 28  48 .292 .369 .479 .848
Luis Veras       21   A- 241 20  64  2  1  2  6  42 .276 .300 .379 .679
Chuck Taylor#    21 A/A+ 535 61 123  2 12 10 50  93 .263 .342 .327 .669
Stephen Dezzi*   22   A- 180 25  31  2  3  1 24  30 .208 .331 .329 .660
Max Brown        22   Rk 151 13  36  0  6  1 13  37 .265 .333 .368 .701
Socrates Brito*  22   AA 522 70 147  9 20  6 29  84 .300 .339 .451 .790
Daniel Palka*    23   A+ 576 95 143 29 24  7 56 164 .280 .352 .532 .885
Ryan Hutchison   25 A/A+ 135  7  30  1  1  1  6  24 .244 .306 .317 .623

Preston: Of that group, only Brito has any real chance to make a contribution at the major league level in 2016. Gabriel Guerrero might also have a chance to be on the team, but his minor league stats leave little hope that he could come close to emulating his uncle.

freeland1787: Aside from Brito, no.

Makakilo: Socrates Brito and Gabriel Guerrero interest me. Both are from the Dominican Republic and both are on the 40-man roster. Brito is a year and a few months older. That extra experience and development time gives Brito the edge for the win-now Diamondbacks. Despite that edge, Gabriel Guerrero has the requisite talent to play in the majors. From an earlier round table: "Guerrero was the Mariners #6 prospect in 2014, has fast bat speed, an outstanding throwing arm, ..."

The real question is, "who will be the fourth outfielder?" In addition to Brito and Guerrero, potential competitors are Peter O'Brien, Chad Oberacker, Todd Glaesmann, and Stewart Ijames. This competition will make spring training very interesting! Sometimes, I like to cheer for the underdog!

Piratedan7: Morozowski.... all the dude does is hit and field and run the bases and takes his walks, as does Mr. Taylor, who needs to hit more to move ahead of the big J. Both of those guys bear monitoring imho.

Jim: I was sorry to see Palka go, especially for as trivial a return as a backup catcher - not many players his age his .280 with almost 30 homers. Guerrero seemed way above his head in Double-A last season, but that's partly a function of his age. Morozowski has potential, but we're likely talking 2018 at the soonest before he'll be any help.

Steven: Brito and Guerrero show the most promise. If Tomas can't cut it, we'll have to pay for an outfielder again.

Speaking of Brito, do you think he'll be able to make as good a transition to the major league level as Inciarte?

Preston: Brito posted similar numbers overall, but didn't have quite the consistency at getting on base. He does have more power than Inciarte, though. But we've likely forgotten how rough a transition Inciarte had. If the D-backs hadn't been dealing with injuries to just about everyone in 2014, does he stick after his 4-for-48 start? Will they continue giving Brito at-bats if he struggles? Can they afford to?

Piratedan7: I think it's asking a lot, but maybe he'll respond like Ender and David does to making the most of his opportunities. I can't say, he's young, didn't embarrass himself when he got his can of soda last year (because how many guys that are 23 are really drinking coffee?). Just like Yasmany, we can hope and watch and see..

Makakilo: Let's look at minor league experience before their first "can of soda." From 2010-2014, Inciarte's numbers include his experience in the Venezuelan Winter League. From 2014-2015, Brito's numbers include his experience in the Dominican Winter League.


Inciarte

Inciarte

Brito

Brito

Year

Games

PAs

Games

PAs

2008

62

260



2009

66

258



2010

85

331

22

91

2011

147

586

55

255

2012

173

664

69

305

2013

190

811

129

566

2014

63

292

156

598

2015



166

690

TOTAL

786

3202

597

2505

Brito had less minor league experience prior to his call-up to the majors. And, Brito's highest level was AA compared to Inciarte's highest level of AAA. These two factors indicate that Brito may experience more bumps in the road than Inciarte experienced in transition to the majors.

Steven: I like Brito as a player, but he's raw and probably needs another year in the minors to season before he's ripe enough to throw out there in case of emergency. I wouldn't feel comfortable with him starting every day but as a 4th outfielder he's a nice option.

Jim: Hopefully, we don't have to find out, as Tomas tears up the majors and reduces Brito to a late-inning defensive replacement. The general similarities to Inciarte are quite encouraging, but I don't know if we can reply on Brito blossoming in quite the same way, to a five-WAR player.

And finally, the discovery of a new ninth planet was announced this week. If you were given sole charge of naming the planet, what would you call it and why?

Preston: I'd go classic, and name it after one of the Roman names of the Olympians. Vulcan isn't taken, although it was proposed as a name for a hypothetical planet inside the orbit of Mercury.

Makakilo: I looked for a Diamondback baseball player with similar characteristics as planet 9. The search for planet 9 is based on three things:

  • It perturbs the motions of objects in the Kuiper Belt.
  • It is massive - about ten times earth.
  • It may take 5 years to find the planet.

I searched for a baseball player:

  • He perturbs the motion of baseballs - a pitcher!.
  • His salary is massive - about ten times average!
  • The Diamondbacks spent the last several years to obtain an exceptional starting pitcher!

And therefore, I name it "Zack" (in honor of Zack Greinke).

Piratedan7: Since planet naming is usually the provenance of the Gods, I'd touch on Greek Mythology for this one and go with Nyx, Primordial Greek goddess of the night, because my guess is, it's pretty bleeping dark out there.

Steven: America of course.

Jim: Pluto, just to screw with people.

freeland1787: I like Jim's idea the best. I'll go with that.