Power Coming to the Desert

Kristian Robinson #61 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses during Photo Day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 21, 2022 - Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Young exciting players like Carroll, Thomas, Perdomo, and Moreno showcased elite defense and a knack for getting on base and having good at bats. Unfortunately, the slug seemed to come and go almost from game to game and the team struggled at times to capitalize on opportunities with runners on base.

On the pitching side, all too often balls were put in play late in games resulting in baserunners.

Fortunately for Dbacks fans, I believe there is a major power surge coming to the desert sooner than people may realize. Here are arguably the most exciting prospects in the Dbacks system that have a chance to play a roll in 2024:

1. Kristian Robinson- Signed out of the Bahamas, Robinson is no stranger to MLB top 100 prospect lists over the years due to his 5 tool potential highlighted by 70 grade (20-80 scale) raw power as well as his above average 60 grade speed and arm strength in the outfield. Most of you reading this are probably familiar with what happened to Robinson in 2020 that resulted in a suspension of his work visa, but 2023 finally marked a return to the field for Robinson.

First impressions on Robinson showed that he was definitely a little rusty evident by his high strikeout and low walk totals in Visalia . Which is completely understandable given he hadn’t played a baseball game outside of the complex league in 3 years. However, he was quick to turn some heads upon his arrival as the 70 grade power was definitely still in there as several of his initial home runs rocketed deep to the opposite field. What was perhaps more surprising though was that despite definitely packing on some muscle to his 6’3’’ frame, many evaluators swore he was even faster than he used to be when he was 20 pounds lighter when they last saw him in 2019. This showed up in his game with 23 stolen bases.

Overall Robinson had a decent season with a .283/.382/.532 slash line with 14 home runs in only 65 games. The haters will be quick to point to his 32 % K rate while the majority of his at bats came in Visalia. But what was perhaps most encouraging was after a brief stint in the complex league to work on his swing in August, Robinson returned to hit .321 with 11 homeruns and a 1.122 OPS in the final 90 days of the regular season and into playoff championship run with the Amarillo Sod Poodles in AA.

One of the most anticipated moves of the offseason for me will be how the organization handles him specifically since he will be rule 5 eligible if he doesn’t get added to the 40 man roster in a couple of weeks. A risk that the team was willing to take earlier in the season, but I cant see any way they would risk that again this offseason. Especially given some of the other names taking up spots on this 40 man. We are talking about a 22 year old player who was drawing Julio Rodriguez comps in 2019. We are talking about someone who has more raw talent than almost anyone in this organization including Druw Jones, Jordan Lawlar, and Tommy Troy.

Another interesting comp I found was another power/speed athletic specimen, Bo Jackson. In 1986 at the age of 23 in AA he put up some similar numbers at .277/.368/.473. For the haters he also struck out 38% of the time. I think its totally realistic to see improvement in this category as he continues to develop, but if he is able to live up to his 30/30 potential at the big leagues, we can certainly live with the strikeouts. Especially for a team that already has no problem getting on base.

I hope and pray that Robinson finds his way onto the 40 man so that we don’t have to sweat bullets during the rule 5 draft. Seems like an unnecessary risk.

2. Deyvison De Los Santos- When talking about power, there are few who posess the shear raw power De Los Santos has. While De Los Santos doesn’t have the gap in development we can point to to potentially account for high strikeout rate, he was however 4.5 years younger than his average competition in AA as he celebrated his 20th birthday during the season. Despite being so young he was known for having some of the best raw power in the league. Another criticism of De Los Santos has been his struggles at third base, although he has shown improvements every year hes played the position.

Who cares?

Last time I checked the National League has the DH. Also the DH we were running out there in the World Series had a lower OPS+ that Geraldo Perdomo this season.

Enter De Los Santos. After going through significant struggles at the beginning of the season, he was reassigned to the Complex League for a couple of weeks where he worked with Nick Evans and Drew Hedman. They opened his stance slightly and adjusted his follow through so that he kepts 2 hands on the bat in his back swing. The results were evident in one of his first games back when he sent a ball 486 ft. In fact, since his return on July 14 he powered his way back to the tune of .322 BA with 14 HR in 230 AB’s.

Look for him to move quickly this season if the results from his swing mechanic changes stick. Even more quickly if he proves that he is reliable at 3B.

Since we all like comps, here’s one: 1989 a 22 year old Albert Belle hit .282 with 20 HR’s in AA with a strikeout rate of 24% compared to Deyvison’s 26%.

3. Justin Martinez- While not appearing near the top of any of the Dbacks prospect lists, Justin Martinez could have the best pure stuff on the team if not the national league. And he just turned 22. While he did pitch 10 innings in the big leagues this past season, I am still considering him a prospect as hopefully the best is yet to come with this fireballer and I don’t believe he gets near enough hype. I also couldn’t help but notice the team let him dress out for the postseason games at Chase Field. Great experience for someone who could very well be recording the final outs of the Dbacks next World Series win.

In 2023 the only pitcher with an average fastball velocity greater than Justin Martinez’s 101 mph was fellow former Dbacks prospect Jhoan Duran at 102 mph. Duran is also a great comp not only for the fastball velocity but also the pitch mix featuring the splitter and the slider. The only real difference being Martinez relies on the splitter slightly more. The difference however was when Duran was 21 he was still pitching in High A.

When thinking of Martinez, one specific outing this year comes to mind. On 8/17 against the San Diego Padres in San Diego with the Dbacks struggling to stay above .500 against their division rival, the team turned to the 21 year old to close out a Gallen start and preserve a 3-1 lead. Martinez would strike out 3 in 1.1 innings while striking out Machado and Cronenworth both looking on nasty splitters while pumping 103 mph gas.

The future is bright and look for some power coming soon to the desert!