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2022 Diamondbacks Reviews, #39 Tyler Holton

He must’ve been bad if we don’t remember him, but he wasn’t bad at all, just…forgotten?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports


  • Rating: 3.17
  • 2022 stats: 10 G, 9.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.111 WHIP, 3.00 SO/BB, 139 ERA+
  • Date of birth: June 13, 1996 (26 years old)
  • 2022 earnings: $138,456 (via Spotrac) - prorated league minimum
  • 2023 status: On 40-man roster, pre-arb eligible, 2 MiLB options left.


Florida native Tyler Holton was a bit of a gamble pick with high upside in 2018 by Mike Hazen.

The biggest “get” in day two might be Tyler Holton. He is currently on the shelf, having undergone Tommy John surgery in February. However, before he went under the knife, he was the Friday Night starter for the deeply talented Florida State Seminoles and an All-American. - James Attwood in 2018 on the draft pick of Tyler Holton

After Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas, with Tyler Holton the Diamondbacks now have their third 2018 MLB amateur draft pick debuting in the major leagues.

It proves that picking the Florida native out of FSU back then was a smart move, although it has been a rough ride for the Tallahassee born lefty.

Holton was a two-way player at Lincoln High and FSU, although at college it was obvious that his future was on the mound. After an okay freshman year, Holton, teammates with Mariners’ catcher Cal Raleigh and Twins’ Cole Sands, dominated the ACC as a sophomore with a SO/BB rate of 4.65 and a 2.34 ERA. He was drafted by the Marlins in the 35th round of the 2017 amateur draft, but obviously didn’t sign because his draft stock was on the rise. However in the first game of the 2018 college season Holton blew out his arm and he required TJ surgery.

After signing for around $144,000 and rehabbing, Holton made his pro debut in 2019 in the Arizona Rookie League and in Hillsboro, dominating both levels as a starter. Then COVID came and his entire 2020 season was wiped out.

In 2021 Holton pitched a full season for the first time since 2017. On top of that, he did so in the unfriendly environments of Amarillo and Reno, where he pitched both as a starter and a reliever, leading to not-so-nice results: a 6.33 ERA in AA and 7.88 ERA in Reno. His SO/BB ratios were good and he was able to keep the homeruns in check, but allowed a lot of hits, perhaps indicating problems with location. In 2021 his results as a reliever were much batter than that as starter (.669 OPS vs .961 OPS), indicating that a move to the bullpen was about to become imminent.

The location and command is vital for Holton as he was already a low 90s baller in his time at FSU and in pro ball added a bit to his fastball, but it still averages around 90 mph, topping out at around 92 mph. It isn’t the pitch he lives on, that is his outstanding change-up, combined with an okay curve. However, I guess it might not be enough to stick around and assume that is why the prospect watchers have mostly left him aside on their rankings.

2022 review

Holton started the season in Reno and pitched in 5 games (3 of them multiple innings) before he was called up to make his major league debut on April 28 after the Diamondbacks put J.B. Wendelken on the IL. That move gave the Diamondbacks yet another left-handed option out of the bullpen after designating Oliver Perez for assignment a few days earlier.

Holton pitched an inning in St. Louis, with an 8-2 deficit, and worked around two hits to achieve a scoreless inning before getting optioned back to Reno again.

A month and 6.1 innings later in AAA he was added to the MLB roster again and worked 2 hitless innings with a 6-2 deficit against the Dodgers and was optioned back to Reno a day later.

After the Diamondbacks traded David Peralta to the Rays he joined the major league squad again and hung around the entire month of August until Caleb Smith was reinstated from the IL. He did rather well, giving up just 3 runs, although one of them was unforgiven as it was a homerun from A.J. Pollock. It was his hardest hit given up, on a 90.1 mph 4FB in the bottom centre of the plate. Here you see what happens when Holton’s fastball is a fastball and not a change up.

Still, it was a satisfactory MLB debut and performance for Tyler Holton in 2022, albeit in very low-leverage situations and against, mostly, not the most fearful MLB hitters. He probably deserved better grades than the ones he got from us, but I guess he lacked the exposure, both during his time in the minors as this year in the majors, and therefore we hardly remember him: “he must’ve been bad if we don’t really remember him”. But, he really achieved some good results on his change up.

Holton would finish the season in Reno on a poor note, giving up 13 runs in 6 games, like a clot of blood on what was until then an impeccable white shirt worn in the ER that is the PCL.

He was actually called up again at the end of September, but the Diamondbacks forgot to put him in before the season ended.

2023 outlook

Tyler Holton has pitched less than 156 innings ever since signing for the Diamondbacks in 2018. Looking at his pitching logs, in 2022 the Diamondbacks have been very cautious with building up innings on his arm, trying not to stress him too much, most of the times on 4 days of rest.

Holton is still young, 26 years old, and I guess that the Diamondbacks will gladly use the two remaining options on him the next two years before the lefty has to make the 26-man roster on a permanent basis. That would allow them to build up innings on the arm and use him with some flexibility in mop-up and/or long relief duties, making him somewhat of a T.J. McFarland-type of reliever. His fastball velocity is in the 8th lowest percentile of MLB and unlikely to improve, the spin rate isn’t impressive either. His success depends entirely on perfect location of his fastball (that isn’t there...yet?) and the deceit of working in his excellent change-up and a curve and cutter to have a complete arsenal of pitches that are able to cover up the weak heater.

Working on his fastball location and building up innings can be done in Reno, so I expect Holton to open 2023 in Reno with a bigger work load and probably by end May he gets his first call up to the major league roster once relievers are getting either DFAd or moved to the IL.