- Rating: 2.75
- Age: 25
- 2021 Stats: 12G, (4 starts) 2 for 15, 1 Double, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 K’s
- 2021 Earnings: $150, 283 (Pro rated League Minimum)
- 2022 Status: Pre Arb 1, 40 Man Roster
Stuart Fairchild grew up in Seattle, and played his collegiate ball at Wake Forrest. He had a big year his junior year in 2017, batting .360/.439/.636 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs in 63 games, prompting the Cincinnati Reds to take him in the 2nd round with the 38th overall pick of that year’s draft.
Over the next two years his progress was slowed a bit by swing changes that took a while to pay off. But by 2019 he was posting very good numbers at A+ (130 wRC+) and AA (141 wRC+) . While not showing quite the homerun output the Reds might have been hoping for when they drafted him, he still had a solid 44 XBH and a .177 ISO that year. Coupled with a strong defensive reputation and good speed it was a strong showing. Heading into 2020 Baseball America had him ranked #9 in the Reds system and had this to say in their scouting report:
Fairchild made the effort to simplify his swing and start it earlier, which has enabled him to put the barrel on the ball more consistently and show average or better hitting ability. With improvements to the timing of his lower and upper half, Fairchild has a chance to develop above-average power down the road. His plus instincts and plus speed give him the ability to play center field, and he has the average arm to man all three outfield positions as needed.
Of course he did not get to play in any minor league games in 2020, and on August 31st was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Josh VanMeter in exchange for Archie Bradley.
He began the year in Reno and started off just ok through his first 10 games, batting .263/.333/.421, .754 OPS with 1 homer in 42 PA. He then suffered a hamstring injury and missed over a month. When he came back however he was lighting up the league, going 11 for 26 with 5 homers in 7 games, earning a call up to the majors.
He made his major league debut on July 6th as a pinch runner, and had a base hit in his first at bat the next day as a pinch hitter. On July 8th he received a start against Colorado, going 0-3 with a strikeout. His next start would not come until 12 days later, on July 20th, getting just a few PH appearances in between. Below table is what Torey Lovullo’s lineups looked like between July 6th and July 28th. David Peralta played almost every game, as did Christian Walker and Kole Calhoun. They could have easily given Walker a couple more days off and played Smith at 1B instead of CF. Walker was doing absolutely nothing during this time batting .255 with Zero HR in 59 PA. Peralta also hit .255, with just 1 HR in 64 PA. Calhoun, coming back from injury July 10th hit .133 with 0 HR in 48 PA. This is what the team squandered Fairchild’s call up for??
Unfortunately, another major bump in the road was hit at the end of the month. As reported in the July 30 preview, Fairchild was placed on the COVID IR
Two players tested positive, Noe Ramirez and Stuart Fairchild. Both are SYMPTOMATIC. Torey could not say if either were vaccinated. They were tested the last day in Chicago according to Torey, but both were with the team in Texas.
He finally cleared protocols and was activated off the IL August 18th, but after two rehab games in the Complex League he was optioned back to Reno. He was recalled briefly the first week of September, given two starts, the second of which he received two at bats before being subbed out of the game. Then he was optioned back out to Reno where he spent the remainder of the season. It should be noted he posted a 131 wRC+ in 182 PA in Reno, including 9 homers. There is definitely some pop in the bat, but he just didn’t get enough chance to show it. Here is how those last two MLB AB’s went:
As covered on November 26th, the team traded for right-handed outfielder/1B Jordan Luplow. Barring a slew of injuries or trade of a veteran like David Peralta, this move will likely cut into any opportunities Fairchild might otherwise have gotten in 2022. While it’s far from certain that the 26 year old Fairchild will ever develop into an average or above average major league outfielder, it seems the team will not be giving him the opportunity to show what he can do. Four MLB starts over the course of 2021 certainly didn’t give him that opportunity. While Fairchild may not exactly be the cross I want to die on when it comes to critiquing the team’s handling of prospects and player evaluations, I personally feel this is quite emblematic of the problems the last couple of years. By the end of May this team’s chances at a winning season were already quite cooked. From that point forward, player personnel decisions should have been made with a laser focus on developing and evaluating younger talent. But, the team was slow to move veterans out of the lineup (and off the roster), and squandered many PA’s that should have been going to the younger guys that just might surprise you. How are you going to find that Diamondback in the rough if you don’t dig?