2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League Team of the Year

Blake Walston. Photo credit Hillsboro Hops.

Hello fellow fans of Los Serpientes! It’s been an extremely rough year for the fellas in Downtown Phoenix. Having the worst record in baseball means getting the #1 overall draft pick, but it also makes for a long baseball season through the dry heat. Unfortunately, things weren’t all that great on the minor league front for the team, either. Some of the more well-known names didn’t fare so well in the minor leagues this year for the DBacks as Corbin Carroll missed most of the season due to injury, 2021 1st round draft pick Jordan Lawlar also was injured, while Wilderd Patino and Jeferson Espinal were flat-out disappointing. That being said, there were some really nice seasons by some future Diamondbacks!

Recently we conducted daily polls on our @Prospects1500 Twitter for the Minor League Player of the Year at each position. As a result, I thought it would be a fun exercise to take a look at the performances throughout the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks farm system to come up with a team of prospects that would form the nucleus of the Team of the Year. There were a few deserving candidates at each position, and it was tough to choose in some instances. I welcome your feedback in the comments below, or feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@MKelley_ND).


Minor League Structure

AAA – Reno Aces

AA – Amarillo Sod Poodles

High-A –  Hillsboro Hops

Low-A  – Visalia Rawhide

Arizona Complex League – Diamondbacks

Dominican Summer League – Diamondbacks 1, Diamondbacks 2

Overall Record : 290 W -364 L   .443 Win %


Catcher

Kenny Castillo

(2o R, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB, .295/.362/.417)

The slender catcher was signed by the Diamondbacks out of Venezuela in the 2021 International signing period. At only 17, Castillo is extremely raw. He moves very well for the position and will use his athleticism to overshadow his shortcomings defensively. He has a good feel for contact with the bat, with his physical maturity determining how much power he can develop. With Daulton Varsho graduating this year, the Diamondbacks aren’t ripe with catching prospects.

First Base

Seth Beer

(73 R, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 0 SB, .287/.398/.511)

If you expected Beer to get promoted earlier in 2021, you’re not alone. For reasons that appear to be directly related to service time, Beer didn’t see The Show until September. While it remains to be seen what the new Collective Bargaining Agreement brings, fans should expect Beer to have two pathways to playing time. The likely implementation of the DH should allow Beer to do what he does best: mash baseballs. Hopefully, teams will not be incentivized to delay calling up prospects next year.  If so, Beer should break camp with the big club. If not, look for a June call-up.

Second Base

Andrew Young

(43 R, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 2 SB, .304/.388/.598)

Young is not a heralded prospect, but he can sure play. He’s on the older side of prospects at the prime age of 27, and should get a full audition at the keystone for the Snakes in 2022. Power is his calling card, with the expectation of hitting 20 HR annually. The power doesn’t come at the expense of contact, and could be a sneaky and cheap pickup in drafts and auctions next year. Add him to your watch list, if available.

Shortstop

Geraldo Perdomo

(52 R, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 8 SB, .238/.357/.359)

It’s easy to look at the stat line and be disappointed in Perdomo’s output. He had a quick cup of coffee due to injuries with the Diamondbacks early on in the season, and never really got going after being sent down to AA Amarillo. The tools are still there and I point to his plate discipline (49 BB to 82 K’s over 358 plate appearances) as reason to still be optimistic in the future for Geraldo.

Third Base

Deyvison De Los Santos

(45 R, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB, .295/.370/.489)

Many of you may not have heard of De Los Santos up until now; I would expect that to change in 2022. The coaching staff has said that De Los Santos has the most power in the entire Diamondback organization, including the major leagues. Were that power to transition in the proper fashion, you’re looking at a middle-of-the-order masher with an annual output of 30+ homers.

Outfield

Alek Thomas

(86R, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 13 SB, .313/.394/.559)

Stone Garrett

(65 R, 25 HR, 81 RBI, 17 SB, .277/.315/.510)

Neyfy Castillo

(74 R, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 26 SB, .230/.347/.453)

Thomas has placed himself squarely in the argument to be the Diamondbacks’ #1 overall prospect, showcasing his ability to get on base, hit for average, some power, and speed to go with it. Garrett was signed by the Diamondbacks out of the Miami organization prior to the 2021 season and did not disappoint. There is too much swing and miss in Castillo’s skill set at the moment (170K in 382 AB for 2021), it will be his ability to prioritize more contact to get the full potential of his raw power.  At 20 years of age, he is a work in progress for certain. Keep an eye on him.

Designated Hitter

A.J. Vukovich

(55 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 16 SB, .272/.320/.446)

A third baseman for now, a move off the hot corner is likely in the cards for Vukovich. At 6’5″ and 210 pounds, he’ll slot quite well at 1B and DH. He had a very encouraging year after being selected in the 4th round of the 2020 MLB Draft from East Troy HS, Wisconsin. He’s likely to start out at High-A Hillsboro next year with a promotion to AA Amarillo based on merit. Plate discipline will have to approve as a near 5 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio is not sustainable at the higher levels of minor league baseball.

Starting Pitcher

Luis Frias

(9-7, 111.1 IP, 45 BB, 126 K, 4.93 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)

Humberto Castellanos

(6-1, 57.2 IP, 14 BB, 59K, 4.99 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)

Ryne Nelson

(7-4, 116.1 IP, 40 BB, 163 K, 3.17 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)

Blake Walston

(4-5, 95.2 IP, 33 BB, 117 K, 3.76 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Joe Elbis

(3-3, 53.2 IP, 7 BB, 59 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

In a system where there appear to be zero known aces, Frias should be a moderately effective #4 type starter. Castellanos is a fringe starter or bullpen piece. I see Nelson as a high-leverage reliever, however, the Diamondbacks are giving him an opportunity to start. Walston has the ability to be a quality #2 SP in the big leagues. Elbis shows excellent control and the ability to induce plenty of swing and miss from opposing batters. A good year at Low-A Visalia could see him shooting up organizational prospect rankings.

Relief Pitcher

J.B. Bukauskas

(0-2, 12.2 IP, 4 BB, 16 K, 4.26 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)

Mailon Arroyo

(3-3, 40.2 IP, 7 BB, 42 K, 3.32 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

Eric Mendez

(3-1, 30 IP, 13 BB, 41K, 2.70 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

Bukauskas showed why he is viewed as an integral piece of the Diamondbacks bullpen, earning a promotion. Arroyo does a good job at limiting walks and will need to focus on coupling that with giving up less contact. Mendez is a small right-handed thrower from Aruba,  pitching at an age-appropriate level.  He’s displayed good strikeout rates over the 3 seasons he’s pitched in the system, and I’m sure the Diamondbacks would like to give him an aggressive assignment to see if he can take that next step.




About Michael Kelley 10 Articles
Born in Arizona. Raised in the Midwest, and with lots of baseball. When I’m not writing about baseball or purchasing my next baseball card, I can be seen coasting down the highway to yet another travel baseball tournament with my wife and son. I love the Braves, bat flips and outfield assists.

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