Barring a miraculous turnaround, the 2022 Arizona Diamondbacks are not going to be competing for any playoff spots in the second half of the season. The team will be selling players at the deadline with David Peralta, Christian Walker, Ian Kennedy, and Zach Davies potentially suiting up for another team come August 3rd. That will open up spots for the team to call up from Reno and give a shot in the big leagues.
These are five players that need to get a chance to play in the Major Leagues in the final 60 games of the year:
RHP Corbin Martin
Martin seems to be the obvious candidate to replace Dallas Keuchel in the rotation after the latter was designated for assignment on Thursday. The centerpiece in the Zack Greinke trade, Martin has not been able to establish a foothold in the major leagues and has been passed up numerous times for a pair of lefties that have a much lower ceiling. I want to see Martin have the chance to start the rest of the way if he’s healthy and capable. The team is running out of time to evaluate him as a starter, with midseason 2023 being the make it or break it point. Should Martin fail as a starter, see if his fastball can get a velocity bump in the bullpen and convert him to short relief.
LHP Tommy Henry
Henry has been the best performer in Reno’s rotation this season and it hasn’t been close. I made the case for Henry to get a rotation spot earlier this month, and he has since made one awful and one very good start. Freeing up a rotation spot via trade will be critical, so hopefully the team is able to sell on Davies and slide Henry in there. The team will need to add him to the 40-man roster after the season, but I’d like to see him get 10+ starts at the MLB level in order for the team to be able to see what their options are for next year’s rotation.
OF Stone Garrett
Garrett may be the beneficiary of playing in high elevation, as he’s put together back-to-back solid campaigns with Amarillo in 2021 and Reno in 2022. Given that Luplow is looking like a non-tender candidate this upcoming winter, I’d like to see if Garrett has any sticking power at the Major Leagues. A right-handed power bat with experience at both corner outfield positions and first base, his upside is a 4th outfielder who can spell Alek Thomas, Corbin Carroll, and Daulton Varsho against lefties in the outfield. Garrett isn’t a fit to play center field long term, which may reduce his profile to a 5th outfielder should Garrett stick long enough to see Druw Jones hit the big leagues.
RHP Luis Frias
Frias has the stuff to be a power arm in the back-end of the bullpen, but lacks the control necessary to stick there. Given the lack of power arms in the current bullpen, I’m fine with Frias getting the entire second half to prove he can throw strikes because he’s filthy when he does. His main two pitches are a 96-100 MPH 4-seamer with the vertical movement profile the D-backs like and a sharp, late-breaking slider that’s in the upper 80s and tunnels well off the fastball. Leaving him in Reno neutralizes Frias’ best pitch and doesn’t do anything for his development. It’s time to see if he can stick in an MLB bullpen.
RHP J.B. Bukauskas
An injury to his teres major muscle sidelined Bukauskas until the end of June, although he’s healthy now and putting up solid numbers for Reno in 8 appearances. His first taste of the big leagues in 2021 was disastrous, as Bukauskas struggled to locate his fastball and MLB hitters learned to spit on his wipeout slider. The D-backs find themselves in a similar predicament with Bukauskas as they do with Frias. They are not getting better in Reno and the team needs to see if he can stick in an MLB bullpen.
Honorable Mentions: RHP Drey Jameson, OF/1B Dominic Canzone, RHP Ryne Nelson, RHP Blake Workman, RHP Justin Lewis
If the team wants to be aggressive in promoting Jameson and Nelson, they could theoretically give them some length in the bullpen although I’d hazard against stretching them out too much. Canzone is a left-handed hitting outfielder whose power tool has developed better than expected, but at best is a platoon player at either 1B or a corner OF spot. Blake Workman doesn’t light up the radar gun, but has solid command and a high-spin curve to pair up with a 93 MPH fastball. Justin Lewis is 6’7” with long arms that can create funky angles for hitters, thanks to a 95 MPH fastball with good extension.