The D-backs' farm system continues to rank among the best in baseball, coming in fifth this past August per MLB Pipeline. It's been easy to see why with players such as Daulton Varsho, Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Ryne Nelson, Jake McCarthy, Tommy Henry and Drey Jameson (just to name a few) making their big league debuts over the past few seasons.
There is another wave of players behind that group that includes shortstop Jordan Lawlar, outfielder Druw Jones and right-hander Brandon Pfaadt.
Those are all names that are familiar to most D-backs fans, but let's take a little deeper look at some players in the system that you might not know much about right now, but are definitely making a name for themselves.
3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year
The D-backs signed Lin, who played for Chinese Taipei, for $525,000, and weren't sure what to expect in his first year of pro ball. Lin opened the year with the organization's Arizona Complex League team, where he compiled a 2.35 ERA and fanned 41 in 23 innings. That earned him a promotion to low-A Visalia, where he made seven starts and had a 2.97 ERA.
Lin's velocity touches 93 mph, and the D-backs think it could climb as the 19-year-old fills out and gets stronger.
"I wouldn't be shocked if there's more velocity next year," D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said. "He's got like seven pitches, so we're kind of paring that down a little bit because he can manipulate the baseball very well so it's a matter of honing in on what pitches are going to be best for him."
This past season was a real step forward for Alexander, who hit .306/.388/.539 for Double-A Amarillo before finishing up the year with seven games at Triple-A Reno. It came on the heels of a disappointing 2021 season and a 2020 year where the only action he saw was fall Instructional League.
Alexander has one of the strongest arms in the organization and he also has pop at the plate, hitting 17 homers for Amarillo and one for Reno.
"Honestly, he was kind of forced into Double-A to start the year just because of injuries, and [we] didn't know what that performance was going to look like," Barfield said. "And he ended up having a really solid year; he's made a lot of improvements offensively and defensively. He showed the ability to play legit shortstop, which is saying a lot because to me that's one of the hardest things to do defensively. He's tapping into that potential that we always saw."
LHP Yilber Diaz
Diaz was part of the D-backs' 2021 International class, and they have been impressed with what they've seen from the 22-year-old so far. Diaz pitched for the D-backs' Dominican Summer League team in 2021 and opened the '22 season with low-A Visalia.
In 11 games (nine starts) for Visalia, he struck out 13.1 batters/nine innings and was promoted to high-A Hillsboro, where he made eight starts and posted a 5.46 ERA.
The tools excite the D-backs, with Diaz's fastball hitting 100 mph.
"He started lighting it up at 100 and with decent command," Barfield said. "He has really good composure for such an inexperienced kid and he forced his way all the way up to Hillsboro in his first full season, so that was pretty impressive. Whether he ends up being a starter or reliever, I don't know, we're using him as a starter right now. But it's a pretty special arm."
2 possible breakout players to watch for 2023
The D-backs signed Torin out of Acarigua, Venezuela, in January of this year, and the youngster had an outstanding season for their Dominican Summer League team, hitting .333/.465/.434 in 202 plate appearances. Those numbers will likely earn him a promotion next year, and while he might not have a huge ceiling, he is extremely polished for someone who turned 17 years old during the summer.
"He has good control of the strike zone for such a young age," Barfield said. "He can really play shortstop, too. I would not be surprised if he's able to touch a few different [Minor League] levels next year."
Jarvis was the D-backs' first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2020 Draft as a polished college pitcher from Duke. The pandemic limited him to pitching at the team's Alternate Site, and he struggled last season at Double-A Amarillo, where in 25 starts he had an 8.78 ERA.
The D-backs, though, still buy the upside in Jarvis, who is a hard worker and possesses all the tools needed to be successful.
"I know he struggled this year and I think it was kind of a number of things," Barfield said. "Just kind of searching for some things mechanically. He made a number of adjustments but didn't necessarily see that translating in the games. He obviously pitched in a hyper-offensive environment in Amarillo, but we never use that as an excuse because it's hard to pitch in the big leagues, too. You grade out all his individual pitches, they're all at least average to above average. The velocity is above average. I expect him to come back next year and have a lot of success."
1 big question for 2023
Where will they all fit?
With Varsho, Carroll, McCarthy and Thomas in the outfield, Henry, Nelson and Jameson showing they could handle pitching in the big leagues and Pfaadt certainly getting a rotation look in Spring Training, the question is: Where do all these players fit on the roster?
D-backs GM Mike Hazen has indicated that the team doesn't plan on trading an outfielder simply because it has four outstanding young ones already in the organization, but it remains an option should they have other holes to fill on the roster.
With Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly certainly returning to the rotation next year and Madison Bumgarner under contract for another two seasons, the rotation could get crowded as well.
However, not far removed from a 110-loss season, the D-backs will gladly deal with the possibility of having an abundance of quality players.
"That's a great problem to have," Barfield said. "If guys keep moving quickly and keep performing, it will all sort itself out. You can never have enough talent."