Five D-backs have plenty to prove down stretch
Final 50 games take on added importance for Peralta, Bradley, Didi, Stites, Cahill
PHOENIX -- There are just 50 games left in the 2014 regular season for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With a playoff berth out of reach there is a tendency to dismiss those 50 games as irrelevant, but with the front office's focus having shifted to 2015, the final stretch is especially important for these five players:
OF David Peralta: Signed out of independent ball a couple of years ago, Peralta has made the most of his opportunity so far this year, collecting a club-record 60 hits through his first 50 big league games.
Although still a work in progress defensively, the biggest question with Peralta is if he will be able to maintain his pace at the plate once opposing pitchers get familiar with him. If he continues to play well over these final 50 games, he will go a long way toward establishing himself as a front-runner for playing time in the outfield in 2015.
RHP Archie Bradley: A serious candidate to make the rotation when Spring Training opened, the 2011 first-round pick (No. 7 overall) has endured a tough year.
Bradley missed time due to an injury, saw his agent criticize the D-backs for not promoting him early in the season and has drawn mixed reviews from scouts -- and even Arizona's own pitching guru Dave Duncan -- with regards to his performance.
Make no mistake, Bradley, who is at Double-A Mobile, is a tremendous talent and still a big part of the organization's future; he's ranked as the D-backs' top prospect by MLB.com. A strong finish to this season, including a possible September promotion, would ease concerns about his big league readiness for 2015.
INF Didi Gregorius: After slumping at the plate in the second half last year and losing out to shortstop Chris Owings in a roster battle this spring, Gregorius seemed to have an uncertain future in the organization.
An injury to Owings opened the door to more playing time for Gregorius, and he has so far made the most of it. Defense has never been a question for the 24-year-old, and if he can continue to have success at the plate the rest of the way, he could really make a push for 2015 playing time.
RHP Matt Stites: Acquired by the D-backs in the trade that sent Ian Kennedy to the Padres last year, Stites is viewed as a potential closer in the future.
A hard thrower, Stites learned early in his time in the big leagues that he would not be able to just blow balls past hitters at this level. Given the uneven performance of closer Addison Reed this year, Stites could put himself in position to be looked at as the closer for next year if he finishes strong.
RHP Trevor Cahill: When he looks back on his career, 2014 is likely going to be a year that Cahill would just as soon forget. The D-backs demoted him first to the bullpen and then all the way down to Class A in an attempt to get him back on track.
Since coming back up to the big leagues, Cahill's results have been encouraging, and if he can continue his progress over the next 50 games, he could build up confidence -- his own as well as the team's belief in him.