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Meet Wilderd Patiño and Jeferson Espinal: The next wave of Diamondbacks prospects

A pair of Latin American outfielders are names to keep an eye on in the D-backs’ farm system.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have built a talented farm system largely due to a steady stream of multi-faceted outfielders.

Kristian Robinson, Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas have represented the Diamondbacks’ top prospects for the past two seasons. And a bevy of other high-ceiling outfielders are scattered across different minor league levels.

Arizona’s farm system is filled with outfield depth, but another pair of Latin American talents are rising to the top of the D-backs’ farm system. Teenage outfielders Wilderd Patiño and Jeferson Espinal have the potential to become the next group of premier prospects.

“They both continue to mature and develop, and it’s special to see,” Diamondbacks farm director Josh Barfield said. “Our spots in the outfield are deep, but they both have shown what they’re capable of and are supremely talented.”

Patiño and Espinal have yet to reach the Diamondbacks’ upper minor league affiliates. They each have just a handful of games stateside, but they’re skill sets have garnered plenty of attention .

Patiño, 19, signed with the Diamondbacks in 2018 as an international free agent. The Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela native made his D-backs debut in the Dominican Summer League, batting .261 with six doubles and a .707 OPS in 34 games before elbow surgery shut him down for the season. He continued to impress at the DSL in 2019 and had his first taste of stateside play in 2019 with Missoula.

At 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Patiño continues to grow into his raw ability. His quickness and range in center field give flashes of plus tools across the board. He reaches top-end speed to steal bags and stretch for extra bases.

“Seeing the growth from Patiño two years ago to where he is now is tremendous,” Barfield said. “Offensively and defensively he’s making strides. He’s one of our best athletes and can play elite defense at all three positions.”

Along with his speed and defensive prowess, Patiño is showcasing his untapped offensive potential. He has a quick right-handed swing that makes solid contact pull-side. Patiño is tapping into raw power, and it bodes well to his bright future as he continues to mature and develop.

If Patiño’s array of tools come together, he can transform into a must-see product as he climbs Arizona's minor league ladder.

“There is definitely a hit tool there with some power,” Barfield said. “He’s an exciting player with a great physical profile.”

Like his fellow Venezulan outfielder, Espinal is beyond his years physically. At 18 years old, he stands at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds with a strong upper half and top-flight speed. He has more room to grow into his frame, but his physical tools stand out amongst his class.

Espinal bursts out of the box with long strides. His quickness translates well defensively, where he effortlessly makes up ground and reads the ball well. The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native signed with the Diamondbacks in 2018 and showed glimpses of his raw ability.

He batted .382 with two homers, two doubles, two triples and 22 stolen bases in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. He also batted .286 with four stolen bases in nine games stateside with the rookie level AZL D-backs.

Espinal’s sound approach and offensive potential garnered high praise from Barfield and several other evaluators at the D-backs’ instructional league this season.

“Espinal is a man-child,” Barfield said. “The guy is 18 years old and is physically imposing already. He can really run and has a really good idea of the strike zone. That kind of discipline you don’t see very often from a young kid.”

Patiño and Espinal have a ways to go in order to fulfill their sky-high potential, but they’ve showcased their tantalizing traits. They each may get a full season of stateside pro ball by 2021 while focusing on their strengths.

Don’t look now, but Patiño and Espinal can quickly climb to the top of Arizona’s loaded farm system in the near future.

“They each have some different exciting traits, the sky’s the limit for them,” Barfield said. “It was good to see them all push each other down here. Overall, they continue to grow and it’s great to see.”