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Diamondbacks Top Prospect #9: Infielder Drew Ellis

Name: Drew Ellis

DOB: 12/1/1995 (Age 23)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 210

Acquired: 2nd Round, 2017 MLB Draft

Position: Third Baseman

B/T: R/R

Most Notable Tool: Raw Power

Season Stats: 120 G, 504 PA, .246/.331/.429, 34 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR, 71 RBI, 71 R, 52/98 BB/K, 2/8 SB, 105 wRC+ for A+ Visalia

2018 Season Summary: 2018 wasn’t more so about Ellis rising as it is about him not falling as a prospect. Ellis was able to cut his strikeout rate down from 21% to 19% without hurting his walk rate. He was also able to increase his XBH rate from every 7.6% PA to every 10.0%, even though a lot of his XBH were doubles. As Ellis continues to see more ABs, those doubles could end up turning into homers down the road. After a solid season in Visalia, the Diamondbacks sent him to the Fall League, where his numbers there matched his regular season output.

Tools: Hit 45/50, Power 50/65, Speed 40, Defense 40/50

Ellis is an extreme fly ball hitter, which will hurt his ability to hit for a solid average but also allow him to tap into his plus power more. Despite the lack of a BABIP skill, Ellis has produced an OBP around .330 at every stop so he’s not an easy out either. I believe there will be more power down the line as Ellis becomes more comfortable with the strike zone and recognizing which pitches to attack. Defensively, he’s handled 3B enough that it’s become a non-issue although he’s unlikely to excel there.

Upside: Ellis’ upside is that of an average regular at either corner infield position. Ultimately I think he ends up at 1B long term, but that’s more because of what I think of other infield prospects in the system than it is about Ellis himself. I do think he’ll need to show more with the bat in the upper minors regardless of where he plays since I project his defense, baserunning, and position to total up to be about a full win below average as a regular. I believe he will be able to turn some doubles into home runs and develop into a 25 HR/30 2B hitter down the road although it may take him a few seasons of 20 HR or less first.

Risk: The only risk is that Ellis’ upside is very limited due to the lack of impressive skills outside of his plus power. Given that Ellis isn’t a complete butcher in the field and has the right approach for taking advantage of the one great tool he has, I’m not worried about him busting completely either. He’ll need to turn more doubles into home runs while not completely cratering his otherwise solid XBH rate of 10%.

Likely 2019 Assignment: Ellis will likely get a promotion to AA Jackson, where he’ll be the primary 3B. As I’ve mentioned before, his batted ball profile is good for his skill set at the plate. Repeating his Visalia will be good enough for him to move up the ladder to AAA, but at the same time I’ll be disappointed. The 10% XBH rate is good, but I’d like to see him turn some doubles into home runs.

ETA: 2020 Season