The news that AJ Pollock fractured his elbow is absolutely sickening for Diamondbacks fans, especially when considering how much progress the team made this offseason in re-assembling the rotation. Pollock only had one more game to clear in order to make the Opening Day Lineup, but is now likely shelved until at least the All-Star break if lucky. Pollock had suffered a previous injury to his right elbow in 2010, where the growth plate was shattered and needed a screw to hold it together. For the time being, the Dbacks are SOL at the CF spot and are down an All-Star caliber player for the near future.
Socrates Brito was my #3 ranked prospect in the organization and is the obvious choice to take over in CF for the interim. Brito batted .319/.356/.420 this Spring, but is coming off a strong season in AA Mobile that ended with a cameo for the Diamondbacks in September. Brito was already considered a strong possibility to make the 25-man roster as a 4th outfielder, but now the Pollock injury cements him as the starting CF. Brito is a solid player with 5 average or better tools across the board. The question becomes whether he can harness his tools effectively enough to be a long term solution in the outfield and he has the chance of a lifetime to prove it.
Brito is more than capable of handling the CF position with plus range and a plus arm, it's always been the bat that's questionable. Brito hit .300/.339/.451 in 490 PA for the Baybears in 2015, which was good for a 122 wRC+ and .362 wOBA after finally stabilizing as a prospect in the California League in 2014. Brito didn't get much playing time, but hit .303/.324/.455 in 34 PA for the Diamondbacks while showing off his impressive tools in the few opportunities he's had. Obviously he's not going to sustain a .385 BABIP, but it's not unreasonable that he could sustain a .330 BABIP given his plus speed and being a step faster from the left-handed batter's box.
The one area the Dbacks will miss Pollock the most is at the plate, especially against left-handed pitchers. Pollock was a nightmare against LHP and Brito hasn't shown that he can erase that platoon split in the minors. Brito has double-digit HR power and should rack up a ton of XBH and infield hits with his speed. He'll get plenty of opportunities to refine his skills at the plate, although I would also pair him up with a right-handed bat like Jason Bourgeois to go against the Clayton Kershaws of the world. Overall, I have a lot of optimism for him being at least an adequate starter in CF.
Replacing AJ Pollock is going to be a tough task and will require more than one player to fill the void left by his bat not being in the lineup any time soon. The team needs 3B Jake Lamb, SS Nick Ahmed, and LF Yasmany Tomas to take big steps forward in the mean time. Brito will likely fill in at CF and can replace Pollock's defensive skill set for the most part, but Brito's bat is still a bit inconsistent and still swings and misses a bit more than I'd like. I think a lot of his flaws are correctable with experience, which he will gain over the course of this season and his impressive tools are not coachable. Best of luck to Socrates Brito, the man with the best name in baseball.