Top 10 Prospects (2019): Arizona Diamondbacks: Questions Today, But A Bright Future Awaits


by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When you think of the Arizona Diamondbacks you do not get the impression that they have a strong farm system. That’s fair, especially if you are simply looking at the talent at the upper levels who could make an impact in the short-term. That said the narrative could be significantly different a year or two down the line, as they’ve accumulated an intriguing group of high upside talent at the lower levels. As those players develop and mature people are going to have a different take, at least that’s Arizona’s hope. Who are the players with the highest upside? Let’s take a look:

1) Jazz Chisholm – Shortstop
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

Chisholm played the season as a 20-year old and took a significant step forward, splitting time between Single-A and High-A hitting .272 with 25 HR and 17 SB over 456 AB.  Despite his 5’11” and 165 lbs. frame he clearly has power and there was no ill effects of a torn meniscus that prematurely ended his 2017.  With power, speed and the potential to stick at shortstop what is there not to like?

The answer is his strikeout rate, as he posted an ugly 15.5% SwStr%.  Given his age we can give him at least a slight pass, as he has plenty of time to figure it out and develop his approach.  That’s going to be the key to if he can maintain being a “B+” prospect or not, though it’s going to be a process and as he faces more advanced pitching you need to be patient and take a wait and see approach.

2) Daulton Varsho – Catcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

Any catcher who steals 19 bases in 83 games is going to present as a potentially elite asset.  Having added 13 doubles, 4 triples and 12 HR, while also keeping the strikeouts in check (10.0% SwStr%), just makes it that much more impressive.  He hasn’t played above High-A, so the strikeout rate is something that will need to be monitored closely however. 

In 509 AB over his minor league career he has 19 HR and 26 SB, which would put him at an elite level of offensive catchers regardless of the strikeout rate.  If he just keeps it where he is now he could hit .260 or better with power and speed.  What about if he turns the corner, though?  He could develop into one of the truly elite, assuming the rigors of catching don’t completely cost him his speed over the years.

Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.75!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

3) Jon Duplantier – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

Arm issues sidelined Duplantier in ’18, limiting him to 74.0 IP in the minors.  That clearly stopped his march through the minors, though when he was on the mound he was impressive with a 2.55 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while showing off all three skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 9.36 K/9
  • Control – 3.65 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 52.2%

There’s arguably more upside in both his strikeouts (13.0% SwStr% in ’18, 10.5 K/9 over his minor league career) and walks (3.2 BB/9 over his minor league career, including a 2.8 in ’17).  Staying healthy is going to be the key, and if he does he should make an impact before long.

4) Kristian Robinson – Outfielder
Grade – B-
ETA – 2022

Robinson played the year at 17-years old, and while he clearly had issues with his command of the strike zone (20.0% SwStr%) we have to take that with a little grain of salt.  He clearly has ample time to figure that part of his game out and when he does opposing pitchers are going to have a lot to deal with, given his clear power potential (12 doubles and 7 HR over 222 AB) and speed (12-for-20 in SB attempts).  It’s possible that he loses a little bit of speed as he matures, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to disappear.  Patience is obviously going to be necessary, but the wait could prove to be well worth it.

5) Pavin Smith – First Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2020

The seventh overall selection in the 2017 draft, Smith spent the year at High-A and struggled to the tune of a .255/.343/.392 slash.  For a first base prospect that SLG is simply unacceptable, though that doesn’t mean that all hope should be lost.  He showed an impressive ability to make consistent contact (6.7% SwStr%) and a strong approach (11.3% walk rate), meaning the sole question will be whether or not he is able to tap into his power potential.  He didn’t show it last season with 11 HR, but he won’t turn 23 until February and we’ve seen plenty of prospects add power as they’ve moved up the ranks (and some not until they’ve reached the Majors).  His stock is down, but a strong start to 2019 will suddenly push him back up into the B/B+.

Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.75!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

The Rest:

6) Geraldo Perdomo – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
He hasn’t garnered much attention, at least not yet, but it may not be long until he does.  Over 211 AB in ’18 (including 103 at High-A) he hit .322 with 4 HR and 24 SB while showing a solid approach (15.2% walk rate) and an ability to make consistent contact (9.3% SwStr%).  He should add a little bit more power, with the potential to develop into a 12-15 HR threat to go along with 20+ SB.  Whether he sticks in the middle infield or is forced to shift elsewhere that’s going to play well with his advanced approach, especially at just 19-years old.

7) Taylor Widener – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Widener spent the year at Double-A (137.1 IP) showing both strikeouts (11.53 K/9 courtesy of a 13.0% SwStr%) and control (2.82 BB/9).  Acquired from the Yankees as part of the Brandon Drury trade he clearly took a significant step forward, but two issues are obvious:

  1. Size – Listed at 6’0” and 195 lbs. it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be able to hold up to a full starters workload
  2. Home Runs – With just a 0.71 GO/AO (35.6% groundball rate) there’s a good chance he struggles with home runs, even though that hasn’t been an issue as of yet (0.79 HR/9 in ’18)

There’s upside, but we need to get answers to these questions before we fully buy in.

8) Jake McCarthy – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
A wrist injury caused him to fall to the Supplemental First Round and the Diamondbacks appear to be reaping the benefits.  In his first taste of professional baseball he had 21 SB over 219 AB, showing off the speed that is clearly his current calling card.  At 6’3” he could quickly develop into a top of the order threat and he has the potential to move quickly through the system.

9) Alek Thomas – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
Thomas is another extremely young prospect, as he won’t turn 19 until April.  That said he showed plenty of extra base potential in ’18, with 14 doubles, 6 triples and 2 HR to go along with 12 SB.  We’ll have to watch the 10.7% SwStr%, though given his age it is hardly a concern.  There’s 20/20 potential, but a lot of development necessary to get there.

10) Emilio Vargas – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Vargas was lights out at High-A (2.50 ERA with 140 K over 108.0 IP), but in six starts at Double-A (35.2 IP) he stumbled a bit with a 4.04 ERA and 30 K.  That said he showed more than enough control overall, with a 3.07 BB/9, and a 40.6% groundball rate.  We’d like to see him inducing a few more groundballs and it’s possible that his arsenal, which features a fastball and slider, would play up better coming out of the bullpen.

Sources – Fangraphs,,, Baseball Reference

Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.75!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here