2022 Arizona Diamondbacks Top 5 Prospectsby John Lepore February 7, 2022 1 comment
The Arizona Diamondbacks were awful last season and will have the second pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. They finished with the worst record in the National League at 52-110. However, they had a winning record as recently as 2019. Their current system is very good and most of their top players should hit the majors at some point over the next two years including a couple of outfielders and plenty of pitching. Help is on the way for the Snakes.
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1. Alek Thomas, Outfielder
Thomas has improved his profile since being drafted in the second round out of High School in 2018. The 21-year-old has hit at every stop on the way up through Arizona’s system. In 106 games last season between Double-A and Triple-A, the centerfielder slashed .313/.394/.559 with 29 doubles, 12 triples, 18 home runs, and 13 stolen bases. He also posted a solid 10.5 percent walk rate with a 20 percent strikeout rate.
For a left-handed hitter Thomas has a quick compact swing that yields hard contact all over the field. Combined with an advanced approach at the plate and a good eye, he has the highest floor in the system in terms of offensive profile. Thomas started tapping into some power this year. While he may never be a true slugger, his athleticism and baseball intelligence may make him a regular 20-20 guy at the big league level. The Chicago native has nothing else to prove in the minors and should be fighting for a starting spot in Arizona’s outfield when we get to spring training.
2. Corbin Carroll, Outfielder
One of the best High School athletes in 2019, the Diamondbacks took Carroll with the 16th overall pick, signing him away from his commitment to UCLA. He was on the same track as Thomas and started off 2021 10-for-23 in seven games before a shoulder injury that required surgery sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He has shown the ability to get on base with a 16.3 walk rate in his minor league career.
Carroll makes solid contact and can spray the ball to all fields with some authority. He is stronger than his 5-foot-10 frame may seem and has a chance to tap into some raw power that could yield double-digit HRs. Speed is the name of his game though. Carroll gets to full speed quickly and can steal a base at any time. Those wheels also allow him to cover a ton of ground in centerfield where he will likely stay. He should start the season at Double-A but could move up if he shows he is fully recovered.
3. Jordan Lawlar, Shortstop
As the sixth overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Lawlar may have the highest ceiling in the Diamondbacks system. However, he sits below Thomas and Carroll here. Part of that is due to proximity to the majors, and part is the fact that Lawlar only managed to play two games last year before a shoulder injury ended his season. The talent is certainly there and at a premium position no less.
He is a well-rounded player who can do it all. Offensively, he has a good approach and can drive the ball anywhere it is pitched. At just 19 years old, Lawlar will certainly fill out his 6-foot-2 frame and add more power to his profile. Defensively, he will no doubt stay at shortstop. The Texas native has the range and arm to make any play from the hole to up the middle. He has good hands and with his athleticism, Lawlar could win a few Gold Gloves before he is done.
4. Blake Walston, Left-Handed Pitcher
Walston a first-round pick in 2019 out of New Hanover HS (NC). He finally had a full season in 2021 and looked good. Between Single-A and Advanced-A, the southpaw made 19 starts and had a 3.76 ERA. He showed off an advanced feel for pitching for his age, turning 20 in June. Walston had an impressive 117/33 K/BB rate in 95.2 innings. However, he did allow 16 home runs in that time and will need to work on improving his command and his secondary offerings.
Walston’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and has room for a little more velocity as he fills out even more. The lanky 6-foot-5 lefty has a good curveball that works well off of his heater at a 15-20 mph difference. His slider and changeup are both works in progress but have shown improvement. He has a clean delivery with solid mechanics. If Walston continues to refine his command along with his slider and changeup, Arizona could very well have their ace in a few years.
5. Bryce Jarvis, Right-Handed Pitcher
Jarvis was a first-round pick in 2020 out of Duke and he made it all the way to Double-A Amarillo last year. In 16 starts between three stops, the righty had a 4.42 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 75.1 innings. The long ball bit him as well allowing 12 home runs, including eight in just 35 innings for the Sod Poodles. He also walked 17 in those eight starts in Amarillo and will need to clean that up as he progresses.
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and the best changeup in the system, Jarvis misses plenty of bats. His slider and curveball are both solid as well giving him a four-pitch mix. With his repertoire and knowledge of pitching, the 6-foot-2 right-hander should move up quickly as he fine-tunes his command. Jarvis has good mechanics and repeats his delivery well. The Diamondbacks may give him another full year at the upper levels of their minor league system, but don’t be surprised if a late-season call-up happens.
What Does the Future Hold?
Arizona has a couple more pitchers worth mentioning here. Ryne Nelson has a fastball that can occasionally hit triple digits to go along with a very good curveball. The Diamondbacks converted him to a starter, but at the very least he could be a high-leverage reliever at the big league level. Slade Cecconi is another name to keep an eye on. He is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and pairs an upper-90s fastball with perhaps the best slider in the system.
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