The fourth installment of the midseason prospect list will cover the outfield. In terms of depth and talent, this is the one area where the team doesn’t have a lot to work with. In recent years, the Diamondbacks have added a lot of young talent, but they’re just working in their first year with the organization and likely won’t be contributing for the MLB team for at least 3 years.
- Kristian Robinson, AZL Dbacks (Rookie): Very rarely would a player in rookie ball ever make the top of a position prospect list, but here we are. The Diamondbacks picked up Robinson as their top international free agent signee in the 2017-18 class. His first action has been this year with the Arizona League affiliate where the organization can keep a close eye on him. The early returns have looked solid as Robinson is posting a .280/.371/.378 slash with 5 doubles and a home run in 97 PA. As he grows more into his frame, we should see more power come from the bat. Defensively he profiles well for any outfield position, with enough range to be a strong defender in CF and an arm that profiles for right field. I expect him to end up in right field long term given the organization’s potential options in center field, but would not be surprised if he ends up there either. Adding weight and developing a solid approach at the plate will be key for him going up the system, the rest will take care of itself.
- Jake McCarthy, Hillsboro Hops (Short A): McCarthy is the highest pick from this year’s draft to sign with the Diamondbacks. He comes from a baseball family as his brother, Joe, is an ascending prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system although Jake is the superior talent of the two brothers. The one elite tool he has is pure speed, which he makes great use of in center field and on the bases. On the season he’s hitting .239/.338/.388 with 2 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs in 77 PA for Hillsboro. Earlier this season, he suffered a wrist injury that impacted his draft stock enough to take him from possibly the top 20 to the 39th pick of the draft. Next year, the organization likely sends him to Visalia to really test him. If he can provide average power, his overall offensive profile should be enough to not steal from the glove and baserunning. Of the top prospects in the system, McCarthy has the best chance of being the team’s everyday center fielder 5 years down the road.
- Marcus Wilson, Visalia Rawhide (High A): Wilson seems to have hit a road block after reaching the California League. After a solid 2017 season where everything seemed to have taken a step forward, his game has taken two steps back in 2018. Overall he’s hitting .232/.316/.356 with 20 doubles, 2 triples, and 6 home runs. His strikeout ratio is up to 25% while his walk rate has crept below 10% on the year. This is his 5th year with the organization, which makes him eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, where his slow development has been much of an issue. There are still enough tools in his game to keep you interested once the bat gets more consistent, but his upside may be more of an average starter or 4th outfielder type. The high walk rate and speed combination makes for an interesting pairing in the stolen base department, although I’m also concerned he’s going to have the bat knocked out of his hands at the MLB level.
- Socrates Brito, Reno Aces (AAA): It’s hard to get a read on whether or not Brito will finally emerge as a MLB regular, but that opportunity might not come in Arizona. In Reno, he’s absolutely killing it with a .341/.402/.587 with 20 doubles, 2 triples, and 16 home runs in 326 PA. However, he’s also produced a career .200/.216/.352 slash in 148 MLB appearances, so he’s been unable to translate his AAA performances to the MLB level. Part of that is the team not as willing to give him everyday ABs at the MLB level while competing for the playoffs. After a cup of coffee in 2015, a broken toe shelved him for most of the 2016 season and robbed him of a chance to see extensive MLB action. It will be interesting to see what the organization does with him moving forward, he’s unlikely to see regular MLB action but he also has no business being stashed in AAA especially with the year he’s having now.
- Gabriel Maciel, Kane County Cougars (A): Previously flying under the radar, the Brazilian switch hitter hit his way onto prospect lists. Maciel has an advanced feel for the strike zone and which pitches he can handle. He’s having a decent ceiling as a high OBP and high steals runner, but makes too many outs on the bases. In his pro career to date, Maciel has stolen 43 bases but also has been caught 18 times for roughly a 70% success rate. Another area he needs to improve on is adding more extra base hits to his profile at the plate. The deep gaps at Chase Field should allow for him to get some hustle doubles and triples on balls that split the outfielders. Defensively, Maciel’s speed translates very well in center field, although he can improve his range by getting better reads and reacting to balls put in play better. While the lack of power limits his ceiling, he has a solid enough game to reach the bigs as at least a 4th OF.
- Alek Thomas, AZL Dbacks: Thomas has spent the year in the Arizona League alongside Robinson and he himself has put up solid numbers in his summer debut. After being picked with the team’s 2nd round selection, Thomas has put up a .330/.390/.451 slash with 3 doubles and 4 triples in 101 plate appearances. Obviously he hasn’t hit the ball over the fence yet, but is making use of his speed by turning balls hit into the gaps into doubles and triples. The strikeout and walk rates are fairly solid overall. Defensively Thomas has the speed and range for center field, but a fringy arm may end up in him playing left field at the MLB level instead where his glove would likely be a plus for the position. Thomas has been splitting time between LF and CF with Robinson seeing a lot of time in CF for the AZL Dbacks.
- Eduardo Diaz, OF, Kane County Cougars: While Maciel has a very limited tool set overall, Diaz has all the tools. However, they don’t necessarily translate onto the field. His 2017 was a bit of a break out where the power ticked upwards due to adding more muscle to his frame and more strength in his swing. The breakout had an underlying regression in plate discipline, which was exploited in his run in Kane County. Diaz struggled to a .225/.262/.350 slash, even with it trending positively before an injury put him on the DL in May. Diaz has not seen a plate appearance since. Plate discipline is the biggest issue with a 89/14 K/BB ratio since the start of 2017, part of that due to struggling against breaking balls. Diaz will need to close that hole in his swing once he’s healthy again, otherwise he will not be able to progress further as a prospect. Defensively he has the speed for center field, but given he’ll likely add about 30 pounds to his frame, it’s possible he ends up playing RF long term.
- Anfernee Grier, Visalia Rawhide: Grier was the Diamondbacks’ top pick of the 2016 draft, but his career has been mostly plagued by injuries. A shoulder injury prematurely ended his summer debut season and another injury has taken away a lot of games this season. Overall, he’s got solid discipline at the plate and has the speed to be a terror on the basepaths and in center field. There’s a bit of swing and miss to his game, which has resulted in a lot of strikeouts and at times, really bad stretches of poor plate discipline. With speed being the one plus tool he has, Grier has accepted his job is getting into scoring position with the stolen base as his main weapon. Defensively, he profiles well enough in center field despite a fringy arm and could end up being a 4th outfielder at the MLB level.
Fringe Prospects: Alvin Guzman (don’t know enough to properly rank him), Jamie Westbrook
Alvin Guzman was the Dbacks’ top international signing, with strong running and arm tools overall. Guzman was rated the 16th best prospect in this year’s international free agent class due to his strong defensive profile and solid enough hitting tools. On the list itself, he could rank possibly as a high as 4th behind Brito just on upside alone. If he’s as advanced a prospect as an amateur as Robinson was last year, he could be state-side by the end of next season. Jamie Westbrook has re-emerged in his 3rd season at the AA level after a position change from 2B to LF when Domingo Leyba reached the AA level. Westbrook’s power numbers have ticked up towards his 2015 output with Visalia that made him an interesting prospect going into 2017. At 23, he’s still not too old as a prospect but has a limited fit on an MLB roster due to the lack of arm. I see him developing as a possible utility guy.