Time for the final batch of players. This time, we are covering the position players, except for the catchers, who were already written about in part 3. An interesting mix of names you should recognize from previous D-backs’ seasons, up and coming prospects and... who the heck is Philip Evans? Read on, and find out!
Dominic Canzone (80)
Currently #19 on MLB.com’s D-backs prospects, he was an 8th-round pick by Arizona in 2019. Which is actually quite the pedigree, since the best pitcher and hitter the D-backs ever drafted, were both 8th-round picks as well (Brandon Webb in 2000 and Paul Goldschmidt in 2009). So it’s about time we had another one. Canzone began 2022 in AA, and absolutely torched pitching: between that and a rehab stint there, he hit .400 in 15 games there. Reno was a bit more of a struggle: an .838 OPS is not special in the Pacific Coast League. However, Dominic only turned 25 in August. The problem is, the Arizona outfield is looking likely to be pretty elite before long. There may simply not be room.
Deyvison De Los Santos (94)
No doubt that De Los Santos is on the fast-track, ending the year at Double-A, before a stint in the Arizona Fall League, having gone through A and High-A ball. Not bad for a player who will still only be nineteen this spring at Salt River. He has mostly been a third-baseman on his way up; he played more at first in the AFL, though this may simply have been the spot where he could get into the line-up. Below is a video showcasing some of the player MLB.com said “may already have more raw power than any other prospect in Arizona’s system.” I’m looking forward to seeing what he might bring to spring training this year, and suspect it’ll be the first of many trips to SRF.
Phillip Evans (86)
So who is Philip Evans? Well, he’s probably best known for a very nasty collision with Gregory Polanco in August 2020, breaking Evans’s jaw and ending his season. That seems to have derailed a promising career, and since coming back from that, it’s been a bit of a struggle for Evans. He posted a 67 OPS+ across 76 games in 2021, followed by a season spent entirely in the minors, with only a .676 OPS. As a right-handed utility infield bat, he does offer an alternative to lefties like Rojas and Smith, or switch-hitter Perdomo. But you’ve got to think Blaze Alexander is ahead of Evans for that role. If we see Evans, it suggests something has gone a bit wrong for the 2023 D-backs.
Jake Hager (9)
Not to be confused with the AEW wrestler, Hager just keeps coming back to Arizona. He originally arrived here off waivers from the Mariners at the trade deadline in 2021, becoming his fourth organization in little more than two months. He elected free agency that November, then re-signed to the D-backs the following month. Surprised to realize he appeared in as many as 28 games last year: I can’t say I noticed. He left once more last November... then joined Arizona again in January. You’re really not fooling anyone with this “free-agency” thing, Jake. :) Hit .240 last year, which is more than twice what he batted in 2021, so I’m expecting .480 this season.
Buddy Kennedy (16)
Another name you should recognize, having appeared in even more games last year (30) than Hager. He even started twice as Designated Hitter for the Diamondbacks, including in his MLB debut, which seems... non-optimal, shall we say. Though he did have this glorious moment in the majors, after missing the “take” sign on a 3-0 pitch... Kennedy has played mostly at third-base in the minors, and the arrival of Longoria bumps his down the depth chart there. However, Buddy - knows as Clifton on his birth certificate - feels a lot older than his actual age of 24, for some reason, so he’ll be around for a bit as needed. Maybe his pal Mike Trout, who came from the same NJ high school, can help out.
Jordan Lawlar (92)
Definitely the biggest name in this batch, Lawlar is a consensus top-25 prospect across all of baseball, and has as #11 on MLB.com’s ranking. He’s clearly not here to compete for a spot on the 26-man roster. Jordan is still not old enough to drink, and has fewer than a hundred plate-appearances above the High-A level. However, that will not stop eyes from being on him at Salt River Fields. It’s possible you could be watching the team’s Opening Day shortstop for next year, though that might be a stretch. If so though, he’d be the team’s second-youngest Opening Day starter ever: the only other not to have reached their 22nd birthday was Justin Upton, who was aged 20 for the first game in 2008.
Yairo Muñoz (95)
Muñoz reached the majors in 2018, as a super-utility guy for the Cardinals that year, starting games as six different positions (SS, 2B, 3B + all three outfield spots), with an OPS+ of 109. However, he left St Louis under a bit of a cloud, basically going AWOL in spring 2020, and flying back to his home in the Dominican Republic. He hasn’t been able to match that level of production since his solid rookie campaign: over 134 games in the past four seasons, his OPS+ has been only 77, between the Cardinals, Red Sox and Phillies. He did set a Red Sox organization record in 2021 with a 35-game hitting streak, beating the mark set by Dom DiMaggio in 1949. In case you’re wondering, his name is pronounced JYE-row MOON-yose.