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Diamondbacks Game Preview #29: 5/8 vs. Rockies

The Alek Thomas era begins...

Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

ROCKIES DIAMONDBACKS
Connor Joe - DH Cooper Hummel - DH
Yonathan Daza - CF Pavin Smith - RF
Charlie Blackmon - RF David Peralta - LF
C.J. Cron - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Ryan McMahon - 3B Ketel Marte - 2B
Brendan Rodgers - 2B Geraldo Perdomo - 3B
Sam Hilliard - LF Nick Ahmed - SS
Jose Iglesias - SS Alek Thomas - CF
Dom Nunez - C Jose Herrera - C
German Marquez - RHP Zac Gallen - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

Selected OF Alek Thomas from Triple-A Reno. MiLB Bio

  • Will wear No. 5 and will be making his Major League debut.
  • Rated by MLB Pipeline as the D-backs’ No. 1 prospect (18th overall) and No. 3 by Baseball America (32nd).
  • Hit .277 (28-for-101) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs and 14 RBI over 24 games with Reno in 2022.
  • Named the D-backs’ 2021 Minor League Player of the Year and named to MLB Pipeline’s First-Team “Prospect Team of the Year” after hitting .313/.953 OPS with 29 doubles, 12 triples, 18 home runs and 59 RBI over 106 games with Double-A Amarillo and Reno.
  • Father, Allen, was the White Sox’ Director of Strength and Conditioning from 2004-21.
  • Arizona’s second-round pick (No. 63 overall) in the 2018 draft out of Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Ill.

Placed C Carson Kelly (strained left oblique) on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to May 5.

The D-backs’ 40-man roster is at 40.

Thomas goes straight into the line-up this afternoon, starting in center field. My instinct is that this probably means Daulton Varsho will become the everyday catcher while Kelly is out, despite Jose Herrera getting the start behind the plate today. That the catcher’s spot on the roster was replaced by Thomas, an outfielder, seems to point to Varsho not being an outfielder as he has been so far. 22 of his 25 starts have been in center, with just three as catcher. However, part of the problem is that there are no other catchers on the 40-man roster beyond Varsho, Herrera and the now-injured Kelly. Juan Graterol has been the main catcher for Reno, but he’d need to be added to the 40-man squad.

But what can we expect from Thomas? Across his AAA career, he has a glowing line of .332/.404/.592 for a .996 OPS. But obvious counterpoint: hello, it was for Reno. We all know how many players have posted very impressive numbers there, that have failed to translate to the major-league level. From previous analyses, we seem to be looking at a drop of about 300 points in OPS, which would take Thomas down to about a .700 OPS. Considering he only turned 22 ten days ago, that feels about right, despite his elevated prospect status. It should not take away from his expected eventual status as an everyday player. But he will take his lumps as the dance of adjustment and counter-adjustment takes place.

Assuming he gets into today’s game as scheduled, Thomas will become the seventh-youngest position player to debut as a Diamondback. The most recent to be younger was Geraldo Perdomo, who was 21 years, 163 days when he debuted last season - that was older only than teenager Justin Upton. Thomas will sit in between Gerardo Parra and Chris Owings, both of whom were also less than a month past their 22nd birthdays. Though the list of younger players also includes flame-outs like Oscar Hernandez, Josh Kroeger and Jerry Gil, about whom DbacksEurope recently wrote. So simply making the majors at such a relatively young age is no guarantee of success.

Still, between him and Perdomo, we now seem to have two pieces of the next Diamondbacks team on the roster, and I’m excited to see how Thomas does. The team may still not be much more than a .500 side at best. But I’d rather they were that while giving young players experience that can only benefit them in future seasons.