The next installment of the midseason prospect list will go over specifically catcher prospects in the Diamondbacks organization.
- Daulton Varsho, Visalia Rawhide (High A): When the Diamondbacks drafted him in the 2nd Competitive Balance Lottery round last year, there were concerns he lacked the arm to stick behind the plate and with this athleticism and speed could have transitioned to 2B or LF. His defense behind the plate has improved to where sticking behind the plate is no longer an issue. In addition, he was able to build off his debut summer where he was the Northwest League MVP with a .290/.377/.467 slash (131 wRC+) in 244 PA with 47 strikeouts, 25 walks, 8 doubles, 3 triples, 8 homers, and 15 stolen bases in 18 tries. However in early June, Varsho was hit by a pitch in the right wrist and broke the hamate bone. He’s been out since the injury, but even with the lost time I think his year in Visalia was a successful one.
- Andy Yerzy, Hillsboro Hops (Short A): Yerzy’s development has been more slow and steady, as expected when the Diamondbacks selected him in the 2nd round in 2016. In 2017, Yerzy had a solid year at the plate with improvements in every facet at the plate as well as monumental improvements behind the plate. His 2018 season has been very productive with a .330/.376/.500 slash in 110 PA with 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 7 walks, and 30 strikeouts. The number is held up by a .441 BABIP, which won’t sustain even for a hitter that may have a high BABIP skill (.323 in the Pioneer League in 2017). The strikeouts and walks have trended negatively compared to last year, but he’s still putting up strong numbers at the plate. Without exit velocity data, we don’t know 100% for sure if he’s lucky vs. improvement. I think it’s both, as he’s hitting the ball in the air and pulling it more compared to last year. While I expect the BABIP to go down, I’m hoping he can offset that with a bit more power and walks to keep the OPS up. Yerzy may still end up transitioning to 1B long term due to the LHH Varsho ahead of him.
- Michael Perez, Reno Aces (AAA): Perez was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks 8 years ago, but he’s finally broken through the ranks and is a heartbeat away from the majors. Perez is putting up solid numbers at the plate, even for Reno standards with a .303/.364/.446 slash at the plate (113 wRC+) in 220 PA with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 6 home runs, 20 walks, and 33 strikeouts. Despite Perez toiling in the system for 8 years, he’s still only 25 which isn’t too old for prospect. Perez could project to be a decent backup catcher at the MLB level, I don’t think his bat is strong enough to be an everyday starter behind the plate. There’s a good chance he may get picked up in the Rule 5 Draft in the offseason, so he could be added to the 40-man roster. With Alex Avila and John Ryan Murphy slated to carry the lion’s share of catching duties in 2019 with Jeff Mathis set for free agency, Perez could end up as either the 3rd catcher on the roster if the team keeps the 3-catcher system in place.
- Dominic Miroglio, Visalia Rawhide: With Varsho on the shelf for a while, Miroglio has taken advantage of the opportunity he’s been given. Miroglio doesn’t have the same potential at the plate as Yerzy or Varsho, but he’s produced solid numbers in the games he’s played. Drafted in the 20th round of the 2017 Draft as a college senior, Miroglio has certainly caught the organization’s eye. On the season, he’s batting .325/.391/.460 in 266 PA with 20 doubles, 4 home runs, 19 walks, and 37 strikeouts. He’s not ever going to produce big power numbers, but with solid line drive and fly balls rates could turn into a doubles hitter. I think his upside is that of a backup, but he complements the left-handed hitting Varsho pretty well as a right-handed hitter. AA next year could be a big test to see if he’s going to be a MLB caliber player.
Fringe Prospects: Nick Dalesandro, Renae Martinez
Dalesandro is interesting due to his athletic abilities, although his bat isn’t too strong with a .081 ISO in college and .073 in Missoula so far. He can legitimately run for a baseball player, not just a catcher, with good lateral mobility behind the plate. Renae Martinez has hit at every stop, but is 24 playing in A ball, which is why he’s more of a fringe vs. legit prospect. If Martinez continues to hit in AA, I can see him turning into a prospect despite being significantly older than the competition.