With a week of games in the books, it’s time to take a look at some players’ starts in the Arizona system. It certainly is not time to make any great pronouncements, but it might be possible to find some clues to where a few of the young Diamondback prospects might be headed. We’ll look at one or two players at each level and try to see if there is something to be learned. With just one start for most of the pitchers, we’ll hold off on the rotation guys for next time. All stats are through games of April 11th.
AAA- Reno Aces
Ildemaro Vargas, UT- If you have been following along here you know that there was a thought that Vargas would/should be on the opening day roster. Despite the disappointment of not having that come about, Vargas has not missed a beat to begin 2017. He is slashing .391/.429/.522, has played in the infield and outfield and has struck out just three times in 25 plate appearances. Ideally, the Diamondbacks seemingly would like to trade Nick Ahmed, opening a spot for Vargas. He will be a useful deep league guy with a bit of pop and speed.
Jimmy Sherfy, RHP- Another player who seemed a good bet to start in the majors, Sherfy has settled in to the Aces’ bullpen. The good news is that he has yet to issue a walk on the young season. If the control remains solid, Sherfy will be contributing holds in the majors in short order.
AA- Jackson Generals
Jamie Westbrook, 2B- Westbrook opened some eyes in the 2015 season when he exploded for 17 HR and hit .319 in High-A. It turns out that this was likely a Cal League aberration as Westbrook took a big step back in AA last season. Beginning 2017 back in Jackson, Westbrook seems not to have figured out the level as yet. He has just four singles in 18 AB. He doesn’t turn 22 until June so there is still time, but…
Dawel Lugo, SS- Lugo is 9 for 20 with 2 HR on the young season, but he remains a free swinger. He has yet to draw a walk in 2017. If he does not learn to be a bit more selective, he will be punished as he moves up the ladder. Given that he is not an outstanding defender, the bat will have to play and unless he can become more patient that will be quite difficult.
High-A- Visalia Rawhide
Fernery Ozuna, 3B- Ozuna was never a big prospect, but he showed a bit in Low-A in 2016 and he has carried that over into this season at High-A. The big number is that he has drawn 4 walks so far. His high for a season previously has been just 19 so the pace is encouraging. If the new found patience is for real, he could be a breakout guy this season.
Low-A- Kane County Cougars
This is the showplace of the system this season. In case the fast start on the major league level tails off, this is the place where Dbacks’ fans can go to dream of a better future. 2016 draft picks Anfernee Grier (OF) and Jon Duplantier (RHP) along with 19 year old Jasrado Chisholm (SS) are all beginning the season at this level.
Marcus Wilson, CF- A competitive balance round pick in the 2015 draft, Wilson has had a somewhat nondescript career to this point. One thing he has always done, that certainly provides a solid foundation for a hitter, is draw walks. This season he has an 8/4 BB/K ratio to begin the season. He has some speed and some gap power. He’s a guy to watch as the season moves along.
Luis Alejandro Basabe, 2B- Generally considered the lesser prospect of the twin Basabes, Alejandro has always seemed to be an intriguing player. The switch hitter can do a bit of everything and one thing to watch this season is whether he can improve his stolen base percentage. He’s made no attempts to this point, but he has nine hits, including a home run, in his first 19 AB.
Tommy Eveld, RHP- Dynasty leaguers should keep an eye on Eveld. He originally went to the University of South Florida to play quarterback on the football team. He suffered a knee injury, switched to wide receiver for a season and then decided that maybe he would be better served trying out for baseball. He struggled in his first season as a pitcher but became the Bulls’ closer in his senior season, catching the Diamondbacks’ attention. They took him in the ninth round of the 2016 draft. Given his relative inexperience, Eveld had a solid pro debut. In 2017, he already has one save and has allowed no hits and just one BB in his three IP. He will be 23 all season, but he could move fast if he continues to have a short learning curve.
There are certainly no major conclusions to be drawn with so little of the season having been played, but these are some guys to watch. We will update again in May when things start to take a bit more shape.