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Early Diamondbacks prospect performers

It’s still early, but here’s a look at who is off to a hot start.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks-Workouts Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

How time flies, we’re almost one month into the 2021 MiLB season.

The Diamondbacks’ four minor league affiliates are underway, and the excitement of Minor League Baseball has returned. Arizona’s farm system took a massive hit when top prospect Corbin Carroll, 20, suffered a season-ending injury on a home run swing for Hillsboro. Despite the hiccups at the top of the system, there’s still a handful of prospects who have performed to this point. Let’s take a look.

Low-A Visalia Rawhide

LHP Liam Norris: 3 starts, 10.0 IP, 0-0, 2.70 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 10 BB, 12K

Visalia is off to a dismal 4-14 start to the season, but 2020 third round draft pick Liam Norris has been a minor bright spot on the mound. Norris’ numbers aren’t super impressive by any means in his first pro season, but he’s done a better job of forcing soft contact over his last two starts. His command of the zone needs to improve while lowering the amount of walks, but it’s promising thus far.

OF Jorge Barrosa: 15 games .328/.405./422 3 doubles, 1 home run, 5 RBIs, 5 stolen bases

I was tempted to put 2020 fourth rounder A.J. Vukovich, but he’s struggled while Barrosa has been one of the lone bright spots offensively. Barrosa hits and gets on base consistently over three seasons in the minors, though he lacks much offensive upside. Regardless, Barrosa is off to a great start from the leadoff spot and that’s all you can ask for.

High-A Hillsboro Hops

RHP Bryce Jarvis: 3 starts, 15.0 IP, 0-1, 1.20 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7 BB, 16K

Hillsboro is loaded with pitching prospects galore, and Jarvis deserves some recognition. The D-backs’ 2020 first-round pick has pitched well in High-A, and his stuff has consistently stayed in the mid-90s while mixing in his patented changeup with tremendous fade out of the zone. Jarvis has lived up to the billing, and expect more dominant performances from the right-hander this year.

RHP Matt Tabor: 3 games, 17.0 IP, 2-1, 3.71 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 6BB 18K

Let’s stick with another intriguing right-hander in Tabor. Tabor hasn’t allowed many baserunners and has adjusted well to his High-A promotion. He’s been a bit susceptible to the home run ball (two over three games), but that’s one of the only blemishes in what’s been a solid start on the hill. He forces consistent whiffs and churning out reliable outings.

Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles

OF Alek Thomas: 15 games, .328/.429/.552 6 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 7 RBIs, 11 BB, 16K

No matter the assignment, Thomas continues to hit at a high level. Double-A Amarillo seems to be no problem for one of the D-backs’ top prospects, as he leads the Sod Poodles in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and doubles thus far.

Thomas’ smooth, yet fluid left-handed swing may never reach 20 homers in a season, but his array of tools are hard to ignore. He sprays extra-base hits to all fields and continues to mature his approach at the plate while playing plus defense at all three outfield positions. His offensive profile fits the mold of an everyday leadoff hitter, and it’s been on display this season.

RHP Luis Frías: 4 starts, 21.2 IP, 3-1, 2.08 ERA, 0.74 ERA, 6 BB, 27K

Frías recently received the bump up to Double-A for the first time in his career, and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s continued to overwhelm opposing batters with his mid-to-high-90s fastball and heavy breaking ball that produce ugly swings. He’s also mixed in the changeup on a few occasions.

With a pitcher of his size equipped with a velocity-packed arsenal, Friás has vastly improved his command of the zone. He’s throwing more quality strikes and trusting his stuff while using his athleticism on the mound. We didn’t hear much from Frías at the alternate site last season, but he’s showing the potential to be a potential backend starter at the next level.

Triple-A Reno Aces

1B Seth Beer: 16 games, .297/.378/.547 7 doubles, 3 home runs, 7 RBIs, 5 BB, 14K

Beer’s left-handed swing has found a home in Reno. He’s tapped into more in-game power with the Aces, and he’s gotten on base at a very consistent rate. A massive improvement has been his patient, contact-orientated at the plate. Beer doesn’t sell out for power, and he won’t hesitate to work the count and take a base hit back up the middle.

That improved approach has allowed Beer to showcase what he does best, make hard contact to all fields. He’s done that and then some.

RHP Josh Green: 3 starts, 16.0 IP, 2-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6 BB, 11K

Green won’t blow you away with eye-popping stuff, but he knows how to work the zone and force soft contact. His low-90s fastball has plenty of sink, and it’s been effective in such a hitter-friendly environment. The lack of true secondary stuff has hurt him at times, as he’s surrendered four home runs on the year. But those have been his only runs allowed over 16 innings. If the multitude of injuries for the D-backs’ staff continue, Green may soon get his first MLB call up.