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Snake Bytes 5/30: The Summer Grind Begins

Officially summer doesn’t begin for another 22 days, but in the baseball world, those 22 days will sort who’s a contender and who isn’t

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Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Diamondbacks News

[SI] Pavin Smith and Drey Jameson Star in D-backs Comeback Win

Pavin Smith hit a go-ahead three-run homer in a five run second inning as the D-backs came back from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Rockies 7-5.

Prior to the game D-backs manager Torey Lovullo was asked about Smith, who had been slumping since late April. As we wrote about during the game preview, Lovullo insisted that Smith had been having better at-bats than the results had shown. Smith had success batting leadoff in 2021, but so far this year had failed to do much when given the opportunity.

[MLB] ‘Asking a lot of him’: Versatile Smith paves way in D-backs win

“I’m asking a lot of him,” skipper Torey Lovullo said. “He’s leading off against right-handed pitching. That’s more a product of him just being able to see balls and strikes, get good pitches to hit, and find himself getting on base.”

Smith’s big home run — “the difference in the ballgame,” according to Lovullo — helped turn around some otherwise rocky numbers at the plate amid the lineup-hopping.

[SI] D-backs Activate Kristian Robinson, Option to Low-A Visalia

The Kristian Robinson legal saga has finally come to an end, as the Diamondbacks have added the high-ceiling outfielder prospect to the 40-man roster and optioned him to Low-A Visalia. To fit him on the 40-man roster, the team designated right-hander Peter Solomon for assignment.

[MLBTR] Diamondbacks Reinstate Kristian Robinson, Designate Peter Solomon

The D-Backs announced this afternoon they’ve designated reliever Peter Solomon for assignment. The move clears a spot on the 40-man roster for outfield prospect Kristian Robinson, who has been officially reinstated from the restricted list and optioned to Low-A Visalia.

Baseball News

[MLB] Joyce flashes 102 mph heat in stellar debut

Joyce, who was called up from Double-A Rocket City on Sunday, entered in the seventh inning with the Angels clinging to a one-run lead over the White Sox. He pitched a scoreless frame — striking out a pair of batters while firing triple-digit fastball after triple-digit fastball — in Los Angeles’ 6-4 win at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“Ideally, yeah, you want to have a soft landing,” Nevin said. “But, hey, that’s what we had available tonight. [Joyce] came in, and it didn’t look like any moment was too big for him.”

[MLB Pipeline] New Top 200 Draft Prospects list: Execs rank the first five

MLB Pipeline surveyed the scouting industry to see exactly how they stacked up this top five. A total of 29 evaluators and decision-makers, from national crosscheckers to scouting directors to general managers, responded. And it appears that talk of Crews falling from his perch may have been exaggerated.

The center fielder received 17 first-place votes in the poll, by far the most, with his teammate Skenes receiving seven. A sign that there may not be that much separating any of these players and that all would be a legitimate contender for the No. 1 overall pick is that each of them received at least one first-place vote. Using a 5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, this fab five ended up like this:

Crews: 126

Skenes: 105

Langford: 81

Jenkins: 68

Clark: 55

Author Note: None of those names are dropping to Arizona’s pick at 12 barring something unbelievably unfortunate happening, but this iteration of The List has Aidan Miller (High School 3B from FL) ranked 12th and plenty of other intriguing names in that 6-20 range to peruse for our next First Round Selection.

[FanGraphs] Sunday Notes: John Henry Didn’t Want to Own a Soccer Team

Left on the cutting-room floor from the in-depth interview I did with Josh Barfield back in February were his thoughts on balancing old-school and new-school concepts within the player-development process. According to the Arizona DiamondBacks farm director, each is essential to an organization’s success.

“I have an appreciation for both,” Barfield said in our Prospect Week conversation. “There are a lot of things that have been done in this game for a long time, and there is a reason for that: they work. But there is also a lot of new information and technology — some of the new ideas are really good — so it would be silly not to take advantage of it.

“There are times when something new aligns with what we’ve always believed. And then there are times where it doesn’t necessarily match up, but because we can quantify it, we need to approach it as, ‘Oh, maybe we’ve been looking at this one thing the wrong way.’ So, we try to do a good job of being open-minded and blending the two. We care about getting getting the right information, and just as importantly, getting it to our players in a way that they can digest.”

The D-Backs strive to have that communication stream running in both directions.

“We want to make sure that the players know what’s being asked of them,” said Barfield, whose own playing career spanned 2001-2013 seasons. “At the same time, we get a lot of feedback from them, too. It’s not the old school, ‘Hey, this is how we do it; you’re going do what we say.’ We understand that it’s the player’s career — a lot of us on the staff have been in that position — so we want to make sure that everybody is on the same page.”

Arizona’s farm system currently ranks seventh-best in MLB. Homegrown players 25 years and younger who have seen big-league action with the D-Backs this season comprise Corbin Carroll, Dominic Fletcher, Luis Frías, Tommy Henry, Drey Jameson, Jake McCarthy, Ryne Nelson, Geraldo Perdomo, Brandon Pfaadt, and Alek Thomas.

Author Note: Plenty of other great baseball stuff in this one, but I highlighted the Arizona stuff, cause, well duh.

Power Rankings

[MLB] Power Rankings: Top teams solidify spots Per Will Leitch

8. D-backs (11 - last week)

[theAthletic] MLB Power Rankings: Mariners, Giants ride the wave, Mets can’t quite hang on PAYWALL Per Zach Buchanan, Nick Groke and Stephen Nesbitt

8. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 30-23

Last Power Ranking: 9

Statistical superlative: 15.9-percent hitter swinging strike rate (best in MLB)

The Diamondbacks are interesting. Not as star-powered as many of the teams with which they’re keeping company in the standings, and with some obvious holes in the lineup and on the pitching staff. We’ll see if they wilt over the summer, but they’re doing a lot of the small things right. Rarely swinging and missing is one of them. Others: the Diamondbacks hit with the platoon advantage 66.3 percent of the time, tops in the NL. They have never screwed up a sacrifice bunt, with a majors-leading 100-percent success rate. And in the new stolen base era, the Diamondbacks have allowed the fewest stolen bases (17) and the lowest stolen base success rate (53 percent). They’re also terrific defensively. Arizona is currently in a position to add at the deadline, but it’s excelling at those unheralded aspects of the game that can propel an out-talented team to outsized success. — ZB