How are D-backs' 2023 draftees faring?

May 29th, 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.

Welcome to the Minor League edition of the D-backs Beat newsletter. Recently, we caught up with farm director Shaun Larkin to take a look at how some of last year’s Draft picks are doing.

The D-backs' first two picks in the 2023 MLB Draft were Stanford shortstop (12th overall) and NC State third baseman (48th overall), and both got their professional career off to a good start.

Troy (Arizona's No. 2 prospect and No. 62 overall on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list) posted an .843 OPS across four games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League and 23 for High-A Hillsboro in 2023, while Groover played at the same two levels and compiled a .742 OPS.

This year, though, the pair has been set back by injury. Groover, who was playing first base for Hillsboro, suffered a broken left wrist in the fourth game of the season when a throw led him into the runner at first base. Groover (Arizona's No. 5 prospect) will likely be out at least another eight weeks as he recovers.

Troy has been limited to 12 games by a left hamstring injury, but he has begun some baseball activity in his rehab, and Larkin is hoping that he could be back playing by mid-June. The team is taking it slow with his running progression.

Left-hander (No. 18 prospect), who was selected with the 64th overall pick, has been shifted to exclusively pitch after also playing outfield at Clemson. Grice has appeared in eight games (seven starts) for Single-A Visalia and has a 4.45 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP.

“We made him a pitcher only, and he’s still learning what it means to be a pitcher only,” Larkin said. “He dominated early in the season and then it settled in a little bit for him, and now he’s picked it back up. He can throw his fastball and curveball for strikes, he’s just trying to define himself as a pitcher and what that means. Whether it’s his mechanics, pitch usage, pitch design, it’s all relatively new for him pitching every fifth day, but he’s trending really well in his developmental path.”

Outfielder (No. 13 prospect), who was taken with the 80th overall pick out of Virginia Tech, moved through three levels last year, starting out in the Arizona Complex League before advancing to Visalia and then Hillsboro. The slugger had a .783 OPS combined between the levels, and started this year in Hillsboro.

“He’s got big power for sure,” Larkin said. “He can run, throw and play well in the outfield. We’re just trying to refine the approach at the plate, just getting him under control and not trying to do too much. When he’s under control and stays within himself, he’s really, really good. [It's his] first year as a professional hitter, so he’s working hard with our staff.”

Adjusting to professional baseball for hitters can be a challenge, and it’s one that third baseman is going through now. Selected 148th overall out of the University of San Diego, Sim is hitting .212 with a .590 OPS at Hillsboro.

“He’s been playing first and third,” Larkin said. “First full season of professional baseball and he’s working through some things with the hitting coaches there. In my experience, the first professional season really is the hardest especially for college kids. They’re used to playing three-game series and four games a week. Here it’s every night and they’re not used to that. It’s just a learning process for all of them.”