PHOENIX -- Right-hander Taylor Widener learned to trust his changeup, while shortstop Jazz Chisholm turned lessons learned during his rehab into success on the field.The pair were rewarded for their efforts by being named the D-backs' Pitching and Hitting Prospects of the Year, respectively, by MLB Pipeline.:: Complete prospect coverage
PHOENIX -- Right-hander Taylor Widener learned to trust his changeup, while shortstop Jazz Chisholm turned lessons learned during his rehab into success on the field.
The pair were rewarded for their efforts by being named the D-backs' Pitching and Hitting Prospects of the Year, respectively, by MLB Pipeline.:: Complete prospect coverage ::
Each team's Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.
Widener was acquired along with outfielder Steven Souza Jr. from the Yankees just prior to Spring Training as part of a three-team deal that included the Rays.
The 23-year-old was 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA over 26 games (25 starts) for Double-A Jackson. The D-backs' No. 2 prospect held opponents to a .197 average while striking out 176 and walking 43. He led the Southern League in walks plus hits per inning pitched (1.03) and led all D-backs Minor League pitchers in both ERA and strikeouts.
"I'm glad to see that putting in some hard work has finally been paying off for me," Widener said. "I'm really excited to see what the future holds for me."
Throwing his changeup more proved to be a game-changer for Widener.
"I never really had much confidence throwing a changeup to lefties and righties," Widener said. "When I was in college, I was mainly a reliever so a fastball/slider guy. I finally started getting some confidence throwing the changeup after I had a little bit of success with it. I just got more and more confidence and started throwing it with conviction, and I think that really helped me out this year."
With the D-backs all but certain to lose Patrick Corbin to free agency, Widener could very well find himself competing for a rotation spot next spring.
Chisholm, meanwhile, is likely a couple of years away from seeing big league action, but the 20-year-old will get to test himself in the Arizona Fall League over the next couple of months.
"Just the atmosphere of being there and playing with great guys every day," Chisholm said of what he was looking to get out of his AFL experience. "Hopefully, I take a lot out of it."
That seems like a safe bet as the club's No. 3 prospect was able to turn the misfortune of having his 2017 season cut short due to a knee injury into a learning experience.
While rehabbing the injury at the D-backs Spring Training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., Chisholm picked the brains of Major League shortstops Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings, along with catcher Josh Thole and pitcher Shelby Miller, who were also rehabbing injuries.
The veterans looked at video of Chisholm both at the plate and in the field.
"They helped me refine everything on defense, offense, no matter what it was," Chisholm said. "They taught me all the little things that I needed to learn. Even the small things were big things in my game this year."
Chisholm hit a combined .272/.329/.513 with 23 doubles, six triples, 25 home runs and 70 RBIs while splitting time between Class A Kane County and Class A Advanced Visalia.
"Just relaxing and trusting myself was basically the biggest jump I've done this year," Chisholm said. "I feel like my defense can always get better, my hitting always can get better. I recognized pitches really good this year, so just keep that up. Mostly defense, for sure."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.