A Minor Review of 2017: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks have some intriguing, high-ceiling prospects and quite a few intriguing players sprinkled throughout their minor league system. I quite liked their 2017 draft.

First Taste of The Show: Ildemaro Vargas, IF: The Diamondbacks didn’t really give much playing time to rookies in 2017 so I’ll focus on Vargas even though he had just three plate appearances in The Show. He actually has a chance to be an intriguing utility guy off the bench but the organization stuck with mostly at second base and that has hurt his value. He received opportunities at third base, shortstop and center field – but those opportunities were few and far between. Vargas’ strength comes from making an insane amount of contact – He struck out just 7.5% of the time at triple-A in 2017. He showed a willingness to take a walk in the lower minors but, at the upper levels, he’s been far more reliant on his batting average to drive his on-base percentage. Still, middle infielders that can consistently threaten to hit .300 are in short supply.

The Stud: Jon DuPlantier, RHP: Duplantier entered the 2017 season as an intriguing arm but he took his game to an all-new level. His 1.39 ERA led minor league starters and he struck out 165 batters in 136 innings. Hitters had a difficult time lifting the ball against the right-hander and he produced an above-average ground-ball rate. He allowed just six homers all season – even after spending half the year in the potent California League. Duplantier, 23, has a solid three-pitch mix that includes a low-to-mid-90s (sinking) fastball, curveball and changeup. He’ll likely open 2018 in double-A and a strong start to the year could help him reach the Majors in the second half. He could develop into a solid mid-rotation starter.

The Draft Pick: Daulton Varsho, C: The Diamondbacks picked some intriguing players at the top of the draft, including Pavin Smith and Varsho. I tend to prefer Varsho a bit more because he has a chance to have a little more defensive value if he can find a way to stick behind the plate (even on a part-time basis). He doesn’t have the type of arm that team’s like to see from a backstop but he’s athletic for a catcher and could perhaps move to left field or second base. Offensively, Varsho has a chance to hit for both power and average. His speed gives him a shot at being a 15-15 or perhaps even a 20-20 threat in his prime. Look for Varsho, 21, to move quickly unless the club slows down his development to focus on his defence.

The Riser: Marcus Wilson, OF: Make no mistake, Wilson entered the year as a solid prospect and was originally selected 69th overall in the 2014 draft but he was considered very toolsy and lacking in polish. The young outfielder sped up his learning curve in ’17 with a very impressive first year in full-season ball. He continued to walk lots (12 BB%) but saw his strikeout rate take a nice dive to 20 K%. After hitting just one homer in each of his first three seasons, he topped out at nine in ’17. Swift-of-foot, Wilson managed just 15 steals (in 22 tries) and still needs a fair bit of refinement in that area. His defence took a step forward and he should be at least average in center field. Wilson still has a ways to go but he’s looking like a solid future big leaguer.

The Tumbler: Alex Young, LHP: A 2015 second rounder, Young hasn’t been terrible in pro ball but he’s been more “meh” than good. His best pitch is his slider but his modest fastball allows hitters to wait that extra second before swinging, which hurts his effectiveness. He either needs to find a way to get more value out of his heater or find a third pitch for hitters to consistently worry about. Although he’s shown the ability to be a back-end, innings-eating starter, I’d try Young in the bullpen to see if he can add some clicks to his fastball velocity, which would in turn make the breaking ball play up. He’s been passed on the depth chart by a number of other arms so now would be the time to get creative.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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6 years ago

Love these. Is there an index for these articles? If not, there probably should be.

Coach AARPmember
6 years ago
Reply to  EonADS

Click on the authors name and it will take you to all of their articles, sorted by date.