An inside look at D-backs' top-performing prospects

May 18th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

It’s time to take a look at the D-backs' farm system, and senior vice president/assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye was kind enough to update us on the progress of some of the team’s prospects.

Let’s get right to it ...

Triple-A Reno
Left-hander , a starter throughout his career in the Minors, came up when the D-backs needed an extra bullpen arm at the beginning of this month and tossed 3 2/3 innings of relief. Arizona's No. 25 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, was sent down the very next day, but he’s someone who could see additional big league time at some point this year.

Sawdaye: “He came up here and pitched pretty well in his big league debut in a role that he wasn’t accustomed to and ate up some innings for us. His velo ticked up when he got up here, whether that was adrenaline or not I don’t know, but he held it for the whole outing. He’s pretty consistently been throwing three or four pitches for strikes. I think it was promising to see what we saw from him up here, because he wasn’t afraid, he came up and was around the zone and his velo ticked up. I think that was very exciting.”

Catcher Adrian Del Castillo (No. 28) continues to impress at the plate for Reno.

Sawdaye: “He’s probably been the most consistent and best performing player. He’s hitting the ball hard, he’s getting an opportunity to catch a little bit more and he’s gotten better. He’s getting on base, he’s hitting for some power. I don’t think it’s a byproduct of playing in Reno -- all the batted-ball data checks out. It’s been probably the most exciting and most consistent year out of an offensive player we've had, because he's hit from day one and he hasn't really to this point really slumped. Defensively learning a different stance, a one-knee stance. I think it's helping his framing numbers. He’s working on his throwing and it’s getting better. There's still some stuff he needs to clean up defensively as a catcher, but I think the bat itself could play in the big leagues now.”

Double-A Amarillo
Deyvison De Los Santos (No. 14) was taken off the D-backs' roster by the Guardians in last year’s Rule 5 Draft before being returned at the end of Spring Training. He’s putting up big numbers at Amarillo, while focusing on playing strictly first base instead of also seeing time at third base.

Sawdaye: “When you Rule 5 guys and you get them back, you never know what type of attitude you're gonna get. A guy thinks they were going to be in the big leagues and then all of a sudden you’re sent down to Double-A, but Deyvison has had a great attitude. His approach at the plate has been much better. There's still a little bit of swing and miss, but not as much. He’s 20 years old in Double-A and his power is unreal, but he’s turning into a better hitter and that’s what’s most promising. His defense is improving. He's basically just staying at first base, and I think giving him consistent reps at one position and not bouncing between first and third is helpful. His defensive numbers have been better. He's got as much power as anybody in the Minor Leagues.”

On the pitching side of things in Amarillo, right-hander Yilber Diaz (No. 16) continues to impress at a place that is not known to be friendly to pitchers.

Sawdaye: “The amount of swing and miss that Yilber has gotten is amazing. Pitching in Amarillo like that, in that environment, and inducing as many swings and misses as he has is impressive and it’s not just on his slider, which is a pretty new pitch for him, but on his fastball too. He’s been awesome. He’s been getting deep in games and been economical with his pitches. For the most part up until this past week, he’s been going six or seven and punching out 10. His stuff has always been good, but now he’s getting it in the zone more.”

High-A Hillsboro
Injuries have made center fielder Andrew Pintar’s development path a bit disjointed, but he’s finally found a home defensively after spending time playing second and shortstop.

Sawdaye: “I think putting him in center has helped his offense. Just removing the early work in the infield has helped. That’s a hard league to hit in in April and he’s performed. He’s hit for power, he’s playing good defense, he’s controlling the strike zone, he’s doing everything that we look for in good, young hitters and he’s athletic.”

Single-A Visalia
Visalia is stocked with plenty of young, high-upside players and one of those is catcher Kenny Castillo.

Sawdaye: “I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s doing. His catching has been a lot better. He’s a big athletic kid, he’s only 20, he’s done a good job controlling the strike zone and hitting the ball hard. He’s really starting to come into his own as a young hitter.”