This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, rotation, and bullpen) and will continue to break them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.
Between Yasmany Tomas’ attempt at third base and the messy catcher situation, this infield might look quite different once the season starts. Elsewhere, there’s an obvious star at first base and two players in the middle infield who could provide solid value.
In the minors
Gosewisch, 31, has 179 career plate appearances with a .213 batting average and one home run. He has three career walks. Hernandez was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft last year. He is 21 and hit .249 in Single-A last season.
Arizona signed Laird to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. He hit .204 in 53 games with the Braves last season. The 35-year-old doesn’t have any power in his bat and don’t get too excited about his BABIP-driven .367 OBP in 47 games in 2013.
O’Brien has some interesting pop but struggles with the catching aspects of the position, which could limit his playing time. He produced a .310 ISO in Double-A last season as a 23-year-old. However this situation shakes out, O’Brien appears to be the only one who could help fantasy owners, and that looks like a long shot in 2015.
Goldschmidt was able to take batting practice near the end of last season after breaking his wrist, so it should be well healed by the start of the 2015 season. Steamer’s projection of .282/.377/.512 calls for a slugging percentage .024 lower than last year so it already has a small decline for the wrist injury built in.
Fantasy owners should probably not rely on him to continue stealing bases in the double-digits, and the team around him will likely be a drag on his RBI total since Steamer doesn’t project a single non-Goldschmidt starter to have an OBP higher than .310. Despite the nitpicking, he looks like a strong bet to again be one of fantasy’s best hitters.
Hill’s well-earned reputation for being almost impossible to project has pushed him into bargain status. We’re probably done seeing double-digit steals since he’s now 32, but a full season of at-bats and partial rebound in power to the glory days of 2012 (26 home runs/.220 ISO) would lead to some very interesting results. He produced a career-high 24.5 LD% last season and with a repeat of that his BABIP should improve from last year’s .276. Hill is a solid starter in deep leagues.
The Diamondbacks’ plan is for Tomas to win the third base job in Spring Training, which would obviously make him much more interesting than if he plays in the outfield. He brings fantastic power, the question is more about the rest of his game. Kiley McDaniel notes he could be Dayan Viciedo (career 95 wRC+/.170 ISO) on the low end and that Yoenis Cespedes (career 115 wRC+/.201 ISO), minus some speed, might be the best comparison. A safe projection is solid power and a batting average that may be a drag. The good news is the uncertainty has outweighed the buzz and Tomas can be had at a fair price in fantasy leagues. If the transition to third base sticks, he’s a starter in all but shallow leagues based on his power potential.
If the transition does not work, the 24-year-old Lamb may get another shot to take the role over. His 0.16 BB/K in 37 games last year is worrisome but he did manage a 11.4 BB% in Double-A last season. Lamb has great raw power and playing in Chase Field will only aid his left-handed swing.
Owings brings some of the ever-interesting speed/power combination to the shortstop position. He followed up a 12 home run, 20 steal season in Triple-A in 2013 with six home runs and eight steals in 91 major-league games last year. He didn’t show great command of the strike zone with a 4.8 BB% and 37.7 O-Swing%, so there are improvements to be made before the 23-year-old can help in batting average. He’s an intriguing middle infield option.
Pennington is not much of a fantasy option, but he could have an impact on Owings’ production if he takes too many at-bats away.
Adam McFadden contributes to RotoGraphs when he's not working as a sports editor at MSN. His writing has appeared online for FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated.