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2021 D-backs Farm Review: Dominican Summer League

Beginning our review of the farm system, down in the Dominican Republic

Figured it might be interesting to cast an eye over performances at the various levels of the Diamondbacks farm system. The obvious caveat here is that I’m going purely off the numbers, which is not necessarily an accurate depiction of player development and performance. For example, it’s a possible Pitcher X was told to go out there and work on his slider, because that was his weakest pitch. If he gets blasted as a result, his numbers will look bad, even if they don’t truly reflect his ability. We’re also dealing with small sample sizes in some cases. Also, players get promoted and demoted, but at the end of the series we’ll take a look at overall season numbers, so should see the best performers.

I’ll admit, considering the farm system is supposed to be a strength of the team, it is a bit considering that every affiliate bar the Reno Aces were below .500 for the season. Again, other factors may be involved: Team X could have a lot of young prospects playing “above” their level. So best not read too much into that. Anyway, we start down in the Dominican Summar League (DSL) where the Diamondbacks fielded two teams. I don’t believe there’s a particular difference e.g. it’s not as if there’s a first and a second team, so I’ve taken them together.

Overall performance

The D-backs 1 team had a record of 23-36, while D-backs 2 were 27-32. Both teams seemed to struggle particularly hard at the plate. Of the 46 teams in the DSL, D-backs 1 were ranked 40th by OPS (.627) and D-backs 2 were dead last, at .564 - league average OPS was .682. The latter hit only .198 for the season, and with the second-lowest number of walks, they had a collective on-base percentage of only .297. Pitching was better, especially from the D-backs 2 roster. Their ERA of 4.01 was solidly better than league average (4.28), while D-backs 1 were only somewhat below, posting a 4.48 ERA. D-backs 2 also had a better fielding percentage than average (.957 vs. .953); again, D-backs 1 were slightly below (.951).

Individual hitters

As you can imagine, not a lot to cheer about here. Of the twenty-nine players with 50+ PA, only one posted an OPS above .800. That was D-backs 2’s Diosfran Cabeza, a switch-hitting infielder who batted .286 and drew more walks (15) than strikeouts (14) for an .806 OPS across 122 plate-appearances. Coming in just below the line was another switch-hitter, third baseman Johan Benitez, who led D-backs 2 with a .304 average and a .788 OPS. The best hitter on D-backs 1 was first baseman Daniel Torres. This was mostly due to him drawing 21 walks in only 96 PA which, when added to a .279 average, gave him an OBP of .490. But he only had one extra-base hit, capping his OPS at .784.

Third baseman for D-backs 1, Manuel Pena, was the only member of either roster with more than a pair of home-runs, hitting four, driving in a team best 30 runs. Pena also had most walks for his team, with 26, and led all Arizona prospects in the DSL with 17 stolen-bases, in 24 attempts. However, he did also lead the team in strikeouts (46). On D-backs 2, left-handed left-fielder Eskoly De Jesus drew 28 walks, but had 56 K’s. He was beaten in the latter category by Jiter Heredia, who fanned more than half the times he came up, striking out 64 times in 126 PA. Add that to a .105 average, and I suspect he may not be long for professional ball...

Individual pitchers

Let’s begin with Hansel Rincon, an everyday starter for D-backs 1, who led the team with 52.2 innings and a 3.40 ERA. He struck out better than a batter per inning (55 K’s), but the real standout number was the bases on balls: just three to the 211 batters he faced. That is fewer than one walk every eighteen innings, with a K:BB ratio of 18.3. Also posting an impressive line was Joiner Vicent, who went 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA over his 50.1 innings, with 52 strikeouts. His most notable number: one home-run allowed to his 206 batters, though Vicent did walk 25. Winner of the Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn award is Yilber Diaz: in 26.1 innings of work, he had 18 walks, 6 hit batters and 20 wild pitches.

Moving over to D-backs 2, Arturo Roque and Peniel Otano were a solid 1-2 at the top of the team’s rotation. They had ERAs of 2.65 and 3.05 respectively; the latter certainly deserved a better record than 2-6. That’s especially considering his rotation-leading strikeout rate of 10.8, fanning 67 in 56 innings of work. Roque, meanwhile, had a solid K:BB rate of 52:16 in his 57.2 innings, with only three home-runs also allowed. However, the most wins went to a reliever, Junior Cerda, who vultured up seven wins in only 27 innings. Cerda gave up just five earned runs over that time, for a 1.67 ERA without allowing a long ball. He also had 34 strikeouts to 10 walks. At 21, he is kinda old for the DSL, but maybe he’ll be our 2026 closer?