To say the Arizona Diamondbacks’ abbreviated 2020 season has been disappointing would be an understatement.
After spending over $100 million this offseason with headline acquisitions like Madison Bumgarner and trading for Starling Marte, the Diamondbacks will finish last in the National League West division at 25-35.
The Diamondbacks have the sixth-worst record in baseball behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. They entered 2020 with lofty expectations, but constant struggles at the plate and on the mound plagued their season from the start. However, the Diamondbacks have one of the better farms in baseball with a heavy emphasis on pitchers and outfielders, and several players could make their MLB debuts next season. With a series of moves at the trade deadline, all signs point to Arizona heading toward a potential rebuild in 2021 and beyond.
Below is a breakdown of their moves at the trade deadline and a look at what prospects could don the Sedona red in 2021.
Diamondbacks active at trade deadline
In a span of two hours, Arizona shipped Robbie Ray, Starling Marte, Andrew Chafin, and Archie Bradley to four different teams. The Diamondbacks alleviated some cap space and reportedly received six players in return, along with one player to be named later or cash considerations.
Arizona acquired three new prospects to its farm system for next season. For Marte, the D-backs nabbed a pair of younger prospects from the Miami Marlins, including right-hander Humberto Mejiá. Mejiá, 23, was added to Miami’s 40-man roster this offseason after posting a 2.09 ERA in 90.1 innings with 89 strikeouts over two minor league levels in 2019. The right-hander hasn’t pitched above High-A in the minors, but he made three starts with the Marlins this season with a 5.40 ERA over 10 innings.
Arizona grabbed another young pitcher from Miami in lefty Julio Frias. Frias has yet to pitch in a full-season league, posting a 5-4 record and 2.83 ERA over 70 innings with Class A Short-Season Batavia in 2019.
Outfielder Stuart Fairchild was one of the players Arizona acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for closer Bradley. Fairchild played 109 games over two levels with High-A Daytona and Double-A Chattanooga last season. A second-round pick by the Reds in 2017 out of Wake Forest, Fairchild has a disciplined approach at the plate. He finished 2019 with a .352 on-base percentage and drew 44 walks to 83 strikeouts. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, he has yet to tap into much power, but hit a career-high 12 homers and 29 doubles last season.
Notable prospects who could debut in 2021
Seth Beer- Age: 23 Position: 1B/OF
Beer was one of four prospects acquired by the Houston Astros in exchange for Zack Greinke at the trade deadline last season. He was added to the D-backs’ expanded 60-man roster this season after his impressive showing between two minor league clubs in 2019.
Before the trade, Beer slugged his way to the Astros’ Double-A Corpus Christi, hitting .299 with a .950 OPS. He added one homer and 17 RBIs in 24 games with Double-A Jackson and represented the Diamondbacks in the Arizona Fall League, where he was later named to the All-League team.
Christian Walker is a massive roadblock for Beer to get consistent plate appearances— along with Kevin Cron and Pavin Smith— but his plus-bat can bring much-needed power to the Diamondbacks as he handles more duties at first base.
J.B. Bukauskas- Age: 23 Position: Pitcher
J.B. Bukauskas joined Beer as one of four prospects involved in the Grienke deal. The right-hander was added to the 60-player pool after posting a 5.44 ERA and 109 strikeouts over 92.2 innings with Double-A Corpus Christi and Double-A Jackson last season.
Questions surround Bukauskas as to whether he’s better suited as a starter or coming out of the bullpen. He had 16 starts and six bullpen appearances with the two Double-A clubs last year. By next season, Bukauskas can benefit Arizona’s pitching staff if his control and command checks out.
Josh Green- Age: 25 Position: Pitcher
Green has strung together consistent outings in the minors and was added to the 60-player pool this season. The right-hander posted a 2.71 ERA and 101 strikeouts over 126.1 innings with High-A Visalia and Double-A Jackson. He spent most of the year with Visalia, but continued his strong outing with the Generals over his last eight starts to earn the Diamondbacks Organizational Pitcher of the Year award.
Green was a 14th round selection by the Diamondbacks out of Southeastern Louisiana. He may spend a decent portion of the 2021 season in Double-A or Triple-A, but he can make his D-backs debut later in the year.
Overall, pieces of the Diamondbacks’ future can come into the fold next season. It will be a matter of time before Arizona’s top tier prospects— such as Kristian Robinson, Corbin Carroll, and Alek Thomas— will be patrolling the outfield for years to come.
Isaiah Burrows is a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the sports editor of The Nevada Sagebrush school newspaper on campus. He covers the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system and prospects for SB Nation's Az Snake Pit and Prospects1500. Follow him on Twitter @Isaiah_Burrows.