I originally planned to check out the Arizona Diamondbacks camp workouts yesterday, but in an ironic twist of fate actually stumbled upon the Minor League camp. Most of the players working out will likely start the year in the complex, Low A, or High A, but the team certainly has some noteworthy prospects at those levels so I stuck around to see how they looked on the field and their respective swings. I only saw defensive and hitting drills, so there isn’t any intel on pitchers and what tools they have. However a good chunk of them are pretty recognizable on prospect lists, so I got an in-person look at some of the organization’s key prospects that might be reaching Arizona in 2024.
3B Deyvison De Los Santos
I had De Los Santos as a borderline Top 10 organizational prospect and after getting a look at him in person, I feel like that’s very low. His raw power is very comparable to another corner infielder with a similar body type, Paul Goldschmidt. While I’m not sure his approach will be as advanced, as we’re talking about the best homegrown position player in the franchise’s history here, he should be amongst the Minor League leaders in homeruns in 2022. The plus-plus (70) power is generated off a short and compact swing, so he won’t have to sell out to put an impact on the scoreboard. Could easily be a 35-40 HR guy, question will be if you can project him to hit better than .260 BA/.330 OBP. If the answer is yes, then De Los Santos should be a Top 50 prospect in a couple years.
Defensively, he should be able to stay on the dirt at either corner infield spot. I didn’t get a good look at how good his arm is, but he doesn’t look completely lost at 3B. He may end up moving to 1B, but that may be more due to a lack of range more than anything. I still have him landing at 1B long term, but I think he’ll be an above-average defender there if that ends up happening.
SS Jordan Lawlar
Everything he does looks smooth and effortless, both offensively and defensively. He still looks around 180 pounds, which isn’t too surprising since he spent all off-season recovering from surgery as opposed to being able to work on his body. His swing is still more geared towards ground balls and line drives, so we might not see too much in the power department although the ball still jumps off the bat. Overall I think what we’ll want to see this year is how his plate discipline looks and if he’s having trouble getting to balls. Overall I see him turning into an above-average regular at shortstop who might make an All-Star team or two.
3B A.J. Vukovich
I will start by saying that Vukovich isn’t going to stick at 3B due to body type, which makes it much more difficult for him to stay low on ground balls, but the bat is real. Fortunately, the addition of the DH in the NL will open up more opportunities for him although if he had to play a position I’m more inclined to say outfield instead of infield. With very long legs, smaller torso, and average athleticism I don’t see him being a capable defender in the dirt. Ultimately I think he ends up as the team’s long term DH but I am fine with the team trying to figure out a spot for him to get that bat in the lineup. The swing is short and compact and the ball makes a much crisper sound compared to anyone else I saw in the cages.
SS Ryan Bliss
Bliss will move over to 2B with Lawlar set to be the team’s shortstop of the future and Bliss’ own average grade throwing arm. Bliss’ stance and swing are very reminiscent of Andrew McCutchen, which makes a lot of sense since both players are roughly the same body type. Despite a shorter build at 5’9” 180, Bliss should be able to provide close to league average home run and extra base hits totals while providing positive values on defense and on the basepaths. While he might not ever the team’s Top 10, keep an eye on this guy and see how he does in Hillsboro.
SS Manuel Peña
Peña stands an at imposing 6’1” and you see flashes of the type of hitter he could become, although he’s only 18 and still growing into his body. I saw him crank a few balls to the warning track in LCF (fence was about 357 ft) and RCF. He will also likely get moved off the position at some point, with 3B seeming more likely since there is quite some upside in the bat. Peña signed with the team in January 2021 out of the Dominican Republic and could really blast up the rankings in the next couple years.
- LHP Blake Walston is very tall, 6’5” might be under-listing him. Still looks like he needs to add muscle to his lower half. Hopefully that also corresponds to a future velocity bump. Still more projection that present-day talent as a prospect.
- SS Juan Corniel is listed at 155 pounds on Fangraphs (30th on their list) and that looks about right in person. Similar body type to Nick Ahmed where he looks longer than his listed height of 6’1”, curious to see if the rest of his game develops similarly.
- OF/1B Neyfy Castillo is massive and has a pretty solid right handed stroke. Obviously will need to cut down on the Ks when going to Hillsboro this year, but I would venture to believe he racks up some impressive exit velocities.
- OF Jeferson Espinal looks like he’s added a bit of weight to his frame and is flashing more pop at the plate when I watched him against a pitching machine. Any sort of improvement in that department will be huge for his development as an outfielder.