Baby 'backs: Arizona's youthful core topples LA

Carroll's 3-run double puts game out of reach as Varsho, McCarthy also excel

September 22nd, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- It can sometimes take a while for a young ballclub -- like the 2022 D-backs -- to find its identity. But when it happens, you know it.

A combination of gutsy baserunning, timely hitting and relentless pressure in Arizona’s 6-1 win on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium prompted rookie to describe that style of play as “Diamondbacks baseball.”

“That's a good way to put it,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I like when we can identify something like that. A young player uses that term, it kind of fires me up.”

Carroll, the D-backs’ top prospect and the No. 3 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, was a crucial part of the victory, delivering a three-run double to put the game out of reach. With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, he perfectly timed up a cutter from Dodgers starter Dustin May, connecting with it at the bottom of the zone and knocking it to right-center field. The line drive, which had an exit velocity of 107 mph, according to Statcast, extended Carroll’s hitting streak to six games.

A five-tool player, Carroll, 22, has picked up right where he left off in his rapid ascent through the D-backs’ farm system, slashing .292/.361/.554 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 20 games with Arizona.

“These guys have done a really good job of making me feel comfortable and included in what we have going on here,” said Carroll. “I’ve tried to stick with my process, stick with my routines, to be able to go out there and put up my best performance.”

The impact of the D-backs’ youth movement on Wednesday went beyond Carroll, as Daulton Varsho, 26, and Jake McCarthy, 25, both reached base twice on a walk and a hit-by-pitch, both stole a base and both scored twice.

“It’s exciting,” said Madison Bumgarner, who held the Dodgers to a solo home run in six innings. “I’m excited for all of them -- Varsho, Alek [Thomas], Corbin, Jake. … I think everybody looks forward to coming and playing with those guys [and] looks forward to what we’re able to do next year with them, too.”

McCarthy, in particular, got the chance to show off just how much of a game-changer his elite speed can be. In the third inning, he stole second base to get himself in scoring position ahead of Christian Walker’s second RBI single of the night. In the seventh, McCarthy turned on the burners to beat out a strong throw home from left fielder Miguel Vargas, sliding under catcher Austin Barnes’ tag. His sprint speed of 30.5 feet per second surpassed the metric’s “elite” threshold of 30.

“I just think there’s [different] ways to impact the game,” said McCarthy. “Maybe not necessarily outslugging teams, but I think our roster, especially, can make an impact defensively, on the basepaths or just seeing enough pitches to get a starting pitcher out of the game and into the bullpen. We’ve got to be creative, and we did that tonight.”

There’s little doubt by now that the baseball world has taken notice of the fact that the D-backs’ future is looking increasingly bright. Beyond the young talent already on the active roster, as of MLB Pipeline’s updated post-Draft ranking, Arizona boasts the No. 5 farm system in baseball (down one spot from their preseason ranking of No. 4, but still noticeably up from the No. 9 position they held in 2021). Besides Carroll, three other D-backs prospects rank in MLB Pipeline’s top 100: outfielder Druw Jones (No. 12), shortstop Jordan Lawlar (No. 13) and right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (No. 93).

As the D-backs see it, it’s only a matter of time before the talent they’ve spent the past several years developing is fully gelling at the big league level.

“I think externally, we hear [the excitement],” said Lovullo. “We don't get caught up in it. It's nice to hear something [positive]. It's been very refreshing for the organization, especially after last season. … But I think the thing we're most excited about is how they operate and how they go out, prep, perform and help us win baseball games.”