Thanks to those who took the time to chew over the 11 rookie eligible candidates for the Diamondbacks in 2020. In particular DBacksEurope, Preston Salisbury and since_98, who actually listed five specific names, along with their reasoning. There did generally seem to be fairly solid consensus as to who should make the final ballot, with three names being common on all of that trio’s selections: Keury Mella (whom I am still wanting to call Melia!) plus our pair of Smiths, Pavin and Riley (no relation). Taylor Widener and Daulton Varsho were both mentioned on two of the three lists, while Varsho and Mella were the names mentioned by AzDbackfanInDc and NikT77.
So, there we go. That’s your five, though as promised, there’s a “No award” option for those who don’t feel anyone merited selection. I am requiring SnakePit usernames to avoid ballot-rigging by friends and families. Though this will only be used if verification is necessary, in the event of a legal challenge by one of the losers. This is 2020, after all... :) Worth noting: eligibility was adjusted for the shorter season, with 45 days service time the cut-off. Otherwise, NL Rookie of the Year Devin Williams, would be eligible again in 2021, having thrown only 27 innings, well below the previous cut-off. I know this means Varsho isn’t eligible next year, but I haven’t done a time to check on the status of the other contenders.
Here’s a bit more information on the five players. Though as some of them have already been written about in more depth, as part of our player reviews, for those players you’re just going to get a video and a link over to those, more detailed articles.
Arizona’s first-round pick in the 2017 draft made his major-league debut on September 12, and performed credibly down the stretch. He hit .270 (10-for-37), with an OPS+ of 99 and was worth 0.2 WAR in just a dozen games. He wasted no time, opening his career with a five-game hitting streak, getting his first SB on the back of a double-steal in his second game, and driving in his first run in his third appearance. The video below includes all of those, as well as his first extra-base hit (an RBI triple), and his first major-league home-run, off A.J. Ramos of the Rockies on September 25.
Smith has already been mentioned in the ‘Performance of the Year’ category, for his five shutout innings of relief on September 22. But he had some other solid performances, after a shaky debut where he allowed a two-run homer to the third batter faced. Over 16.1 innings in September, Riley allowed one run, for an ERA in the month of 0.55, while striking out more than a batter per frame (17 K’s). He goes into 2021, having fanned 13 batters since allowing his last walk. Below is that relief outing on 9/22, where he struck out seven over five innings. Not bad for a 24th-round pick in 2016.
Picked the round after Pavin Smith in 2017, Varsho was the most-used rookie for Arizona this year, appearing in 37 of the 60 games played. His positional flexibility was particularly notable, completing the rare double of starting games in the same season at both catcher and center field. His sprint speed of 28.3 ft/sec was second only to Tim Locastro, and would be the fastest catcher in the majors this year. After some early struggles at the plate, he found his feet, with an .822 OPS over his final nineteen games and three HR in 64 at-bats. All three are below, along with his first hit and first stolen-base.
Here’s the poll, or you can use this link if you prefer.