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Arizona Diamondbacks Non Roster Invitees 2020: Part 4

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Daulton Varsho and Pavin Smith lead this group of position players

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

There are some very interesting players in this final group, with a high probability that two or three of them will see at least some MLB service time and PA’s this year.

Daulton Varsho carries a minor league career slash line of .301/.372/.507 , .879 OPS into the 2020 season. Last year was his best yet, posting a 159 wRC+ in the pitcher friendly Southern League for AA Jacksonville. The 23 year old Wisconsin native will turn 24 on July 2nd. Based on his track record there is a high confidence level in his ability to hit in the major leagues. Indeed he’s already projected to be around a league average hitter by the Fangraphs projection systems. ( 100 = league average)

Steamer: 97 wRC+

ZIPS: 96 OPS+

Perhaps somewhat stunning, Pecota from Baseball Prospectus projects him to 124 DRC+ !

The main question surrounding Varsho is whether or not he can stick at catcher. Indeed last year he caught just 16 of 80 base stealers, (20%) and allowed 12 passed balls in 600+ innings behind the plate. That performance didn’t lessen the concern any. Late in the year he logged four games in Centerfield and it will be interesting to see if he gets any actual game time in the outfield this spring. While it’s likely Varsho starts the year in Reno, he could be at the front of the line if the team needs a replacement catcher or outfielder to come up.

Pavin Smith, the Dbacks 1st round draft pick from 2017, had seen his prospect status drop following a mediocre 2018 and weak showing in the Arizona Fall League that year. Then over the first couple months of 2019 he struggled mightily, and some idiot dubbed him a bust. However a very strong second half last year propelled him to a season end line .291/.370/.466, 142 wRC+. He hit 29 doubles, 6 triples and 12 homers in 440 at bats, reviving hope in his power potential. He also reduced his Ground ball percentage from 49% to 44%. With the arrival of Seth Beer in August, Smith transitioned to corner outfield over the final two months of 2019. 2020 is a pivotal year for Smith. He’ll need to continue his breakout from last year to re-establish himself as a top prospect. He’ll be playing in the right place to do it, as Reno is certainly a conducive environment for hitting prospects to boost their status. His projections currently are indicating a below average hitter in MLB.

Steamer: 91 wRC+

ZIP: 88 OPS+

Pecota: 92 DRC+

Yasmany Tomas posted a 116 wRC+ in Reno last year and owns a 97 wRC+ in MLB. While he did poorly in his brief 2019 call up, he might still be capable of posting leauge average hitting numbers in MLB. The projection systems don’t really think so however. (ZIPS 90 OPS+, Steamer 77 wRC+, and Pecota 90 DRC+ ). The bigger problem of course is that his defense and base running are so far below average that the team has not been willing to even keep him on the 40 man roster, let alone give him MLB playing time. That seems unlikely to change for the better, but since he’s making 17 Million in the final year of his contract the team has given him a spring invite. The humane thing to do here would be to give him enough playing time in early spring games for other teams to get a good look at him, and then release him after a dozen games played so he at least has a chance to catch on with another organization that might give him a chance.

EDIT: After I wrote that last sentence, I saw NikT77 link to this fansided article in a comment thread. The article has this quote:

“I haven’t been in the plans of our hierarchy for a while now. Thank God this is my last year under contract. Hopefully, they will trade me, because I know I’m a big leaguer.”

Travis Snider , a former Blue Jay, Pirate, and Oriole, has not appeared in a major league game since 2015. Now 32, he owns a career .244/.311/.399 triple slash and 93 OPS+. The outfielder played with Reno last year and posted a .294/.402/.497 slash, good for a 121 wRC+. He’s left handed depth and minor league filler at this point in his career, but never say never. Still, if the Dbacks need a left handed hitting outfielder to replace an injured player in the majors, it’s probable that one of either Varsho or Smith, or maybe even Seth Beer will have forced the issue and be ahead of Snider on the depth chart.

Juniel Querecuto is a 27 year old utility infielder who has been in the DBacks organization since 2018. He was originally signed by the Rays all the way back in 2009, and had a brief callup to the majors in 2016. In 9 minor league seasons he has a .665 OPS, and last year postedet a 79 wRC+ playing the entire year in Reno. He received an invite to Spring last year too, and got into some games, going 9 for 31. It’s rather doubtful he actually gets MLB playing time this year, however the team obviously thinks enough of his defense and positional flexibility to give him an invite. But if he’s not in the first or second round of cuts, something has gone drastically wrong on the injury front.

Trayce Thompson was drafted by the White Sox in the second round in 2009 . As a minor leaguer he profiled as a plus power, low batting average Right Hand hitter with plus defense. Somewhat surprisingly, during his rookie callup in 2015 he slashed .295/.363/.533 in 135 PA’s. This line was supported by a .341 BABIP however, which was not sustainable for him. Traded to the Dodgers during the 2015-16 off season, he got into 80 games, starting 61. Splitting time pretty evenly between all three outfield positions he slashed .225/.302/.436 (.255 BABIP) with 13 HR in 262 first half PA.

Unfortunately he went on the DL with a sore back and it was later reported that he’d suffered multiple fractures in his back. He missed the remainder of 2016 and he’s not been the same since.

Pre Injury, 2015-2016: 397 PA, .247/.322/.469 113 OPS+, 18 HR, 39 BB, 92 K

Post Injury 2017-2018: 192 PA, .119/.178/.226. 10 OPS+, 4 HR, 13 BB, 73 K

He did not make it to the majors in 2019, and the minor league numbers post injury are not very good either. Back injuries suck. But if he’s healed up now and can somehow get back to what he was back in 2015-16 he could provide some value at some point down the road.