In the second installment of my six-part series, I take a closer look at the Hillsboro Hops, the High-A West affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Hops are currently in 5th place in the league, with a 35-43 record. The success of the team has been impacted heavily by the early-season loss of an uber-prospect. With teams like the Dodgers and Padres lined up to contend for years, the Diamondbacks will need their player development to be on point during the rebuild. While the team’s best prospect went down early, there is still talent on the roster that could be an integral part of the organization moving forward.
Corbin Carroll, OF
Entering the season, Carroll was a top 25 prospect across the board. His early performance was backing that assessment up, and then some. Unfortunately, the toolsy outfielder only made it 29 PA before succumbing to a season-ending shoulder injury. In his brief time with the club, the lefty hit .435/.552/.913 with two home runs and three stolen bases. With a double-plus hit tool, double-plus speed, and developing power, there aren’t many prospects who possess the mouth-watering tools a healthy Carroll brings to the table.
Listed at 5’10”, 165 pounds, his diminutive size is seemingly the only red flag in his profile, but his advanced hit tool should allow him to get the most out of his power as he matures. Assuming there are no long-term effects from the injury, this season could be a blessing in disguise for dynasty managers. For those willing to take the risk that comes with injuries, Carroll legitimately has the upside to become the top dynasty prospect in the game before graduating to the Majors and becoming an early pick in redraft leagues during his prime.
— Down on the Farm (@DownontheFarm8) May 6, 2021
Blake Walston, LHP
Selected 26th overall in the 2019 Draft out of the prep ranks, Walton has made a relatively rapid climb to High-A. The lefty possesses an intriguing arsenal, led by his plus-plus curveball. Walston made strides at the Alternate Site in 2020 showed improvements to his command and changeup. The lefty has added velocity since being drafted and now sits in the mid-90’s. In 5 starts with the Hops, Walston has a 3.75 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 37:11 K:BB in 24 innings.
He has had trouble with the long ball, giving up seven home runs, so there is still work to be done with command and limiting hard contact against more advanced hitters. Walston is one of the youngest pitchers at the level, showing high-end strikeout upside in an athletic 6’5” frame. While there are still many hurdles to clear, there aren’t many lefties with his combination of attributes, making him a very enticing play on the pitching side in your dynasty league.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 21, 2021
Slade Cecconi, RHP
Another talented arm in the organization is getting his first taste of pro ball. Cecconi was selected 33rd overall in the 2020 Draft out of the University of Miami. The righty has a plus fastball that he pairs with a plus slider that should be a good strikeout pitch. He also possesses an above-average curveball, a fringe-average changeup, and average command to complete his profile. The 22-year has high-end stuff but needs to work on being more consistent with his command.
From a dynasty perspective, Cecconi hasn’t taken off as quickly as some of his college counterparts, like Cade Cavalli or Reid Detmers, but it’s too early to give up on his upside. While Cecconi isn’t currently on the fast track, he remains one of the more intriguing arms in the system if he makes minor adjustments to his weaknesses.
— Hillsboro Hops (@HillsboroHops) June 12, 2021
Jorge Barrosa, OF
A young outfielder that received a promotion from Low-A after 35 games showing signs of adjusting. The 20-year old Barrosa has a plus hit tool with above-average speed. There are some foundational tools to work within his profile. The development of his power will be worth monitoring, as he currently projects as below average in that department. Barrosa’s strong ability to make contact against more advanced pitching is a good indicator he is a quality prospect that could be a big riser over the next year or two if more development occurs.
His slash line is down since being promoted, but the switch-hitter has increased his BB% and slightly decreased K% at the higher level. Keep an eye on Barrosa, as he projects to play the bulk of his age-21 season in AA, which puts him on a path typically reserved for high-end prospects. There are enough positive signs here that Barrosa should be considered a viable sleeper and worth stashing in deeper leagues.
Jorge Barrosa pulls his yard card pic.twitter.com/6AVD8zBYtp
— Hillsboro Hops (@HillsboroHops) July 18, 2021
Brandon Pfaadt, RHP
A 5th round pick in the 2020 Draft, Pfaadt has been very impressive while making relatively quick work of the lower levels. The 22-year old began the season with the Lo-A affiliate and has carried his skill set against more advanced competition. There were concerns upon being drafted that Pfaadt would profile best in a reliever role, but the organization seems content using him as a starter thus far.
His ability to miss bats and limit walks have been notable at this point, so it will be interesting to see how it translates to the upper levels. As it stands, Pfaadt has increased his stock since the winter and should be on the radar for dynasty managers. Considering he doesn’t have the hype of an early pick, it will likely take some sustained success in the upper levels next season to convince some. The entirety of the situation makes for a relatively intriguing stash in deep leagues, particularly those which value pitching.
Brandon Pfaadt (@Bpfaadt27) had himself a day!
Another pitcher of the week award? We think so. pic.twitter.com/ttQoSPKA8b
— Hillsboro Hops (@HillsboroHops) August 1, 2021
Keep an eye on…
A.J. Vukovich – The 4th round pick in 2020, Vukovich just made his debut with the Hops on August 3, 2021. The 20-year old showed promise in Low-A, posting a .259/.322/.449 slash line, with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases. The righty will likely begin 2022 with the team.
Drey Jameson – A 2nd round pick in 2019, Jameson has taken a big step forward with his command, which has allowed his plus fastball and curveball to play up. The soon-to-be 24-year old will be a prime candidate to push through the upper levels in 2022 if he can maintain the improvements against more advanced competition. Jameson was just promoted to Double-A
Blaze Alexander – A shortstop that just turned 22 years old. Alexander has flashed a little bit of speed and the ability to take a walk. While he has yet to tap into his fringe plus raw power, there are enough positives to keep the middle infielder on your radar in deep leagues.
Michael covers the Mariners and Dynasty/Fantasy baseball content for Prospects1500. He is a Michigan native currently living in the Pacific Northwest. Michael has played fantasy baseball for over 20 years. He has experience with dynasty, redraft, roto, H2H, points, Best ball, and auction leagues. Michael got started writing with the support of Todd Zola at CreativeSports. He has also contributed prospect content for FantraxHQ, RotoFanatic, and ProspectsWorldwide. Follow Michael on Twitter @MPRichards1981 for advice, dynasty lists, and in-season prospect coverage.