The Diamondbacks middle infield depth suffered a huge blow when Nick Ahmed was hit in the right hand with a 99-MPH fastball from Trevor Rosenthal, causing a small fracture that could keep him out of action until September. That leaves the team scrambling for shortstop depth in the upper minors. The Reno Aces have 3 intriguing middle infield prospects in Ketel Marte, Ildemaro Vargas, and Jack Reinheimer. Marte has been the only player of the 3 regularly playing shortstop in Reno. Back in March, I wrote that trading Ahmed would be a mistake because we’d be at this point. Ahmed has been very useful for the Diamondbacks because of his glove and it allowing the Dbacks to play Chris Owings in RF and give rest days to Owings, David Peralta, and Brandon Drury. Dbacks don’t have that same luxury with Ahmed on the DL.
Marte is currently hitting .338/.391/.514 in Reno, for a .905 OPS and 138 wRC+. With the Pacific Coast League featuring teams with high elevation such as Reno, Albuquerque, and Colorado Springs, offensive numbers can be a bit deceiving. However, Marte is showing more XBH ability lately and is posting a decent walk rate while drastically dropping his strikeout rate. If we want to project Marte’s production at the MLB level, subtract about .200 points from OPS and we should get around .700 (.260/.310/.390 projected slash).
Of the three options, Marte makes the most sense. Marte has just enough range for SS, but a below-average arm for the position. Vargas has a better arm and can play other positions, but Brandon Drury and Jake Lamb have a stranglehold at 2B and 3B, so there are few opportunities to play him other than a bench capacity. Reinheimer is a 1 to 1 fit as a bench player with sporadic playing time and a solid enough glove to play SS in a Nick Ahmed-type role. Marte has been the primary shortstop for Reno, which is probably why he gets the nod even though getting him everyday ABs will be a challenge for Torey Lovullo. Given his previous track record with his lineups, Lovullo will figure out a way to make this work.