Instructional league matchups are in full swing, and the Arizona Diamondbacks fall roster is filled with a bevy of top prospects.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted minor league prospects this season. Minor League Baseball was forced to cancel the 2020 season, putting the livelihoods of hundreds of players at stake. Those fortunate enough to make a MLB team’s 60-man expanded roster developed at their alternate training site through individual workouts and intrasquad scrimmages.
After the 2020 MiLB season canceled, the Arizona Fall League also canceled for the year. Luckily, instructional leagues give MLB organizations a chance to groom dozens of young prospects who haven’t played this season.
The Diamondbacks are no exception with 51 prospects on the roster. Below is the list of names who made the squad as well as some names to keep an eye on. Three players from the D-backs’ instructional league roster cracked our Overall Top 197 Prospects list.
Left Handed Pitchers (10)
- Rigoberto Borbolla– Age: 19
- Tommy Henry– Age: 23
- Blake Walston– Age: 19
- Tyler Holton– Age: 24
- Liam Norris- Age: 19
- Avery Short– Age: 19
- Nick Snyder– Age: 22
- Andrew Saalfrank– Age: 23
- Kenny Hernandez– Age: 22
- Brock Jones– Age: 19
Right Handed Pitchers (19)
- Jhosmer Alvarez– Age: 19
- Slade Cecconi– Age: 21
- Conor Grammes– Age: 23
- Josh Green– Age: 25
- Justin Martinez– Age: 19
- Levi Kelly– Age: 21
- Justin Lewis– Age: 25
- Bryce Jarvis– Age: 22
- Drey Jameson– Age: 23
- Eduardo Herrera– Age: 20
- Harrison Francis– Age: 21
- Humberto Mejía- Age: 23
- Ryne Nelson– Age: 22
- Cristian Pacheco– Age: 19
- Deyni Olivero– Age: 22
- Matt Peacock– Age: 26
- Matt Tabor– Age: 22
- Brandon Pfaadt– Age: 22
- Chester Pimentel– Age: 24
- Blaze Alexander– Age: 21
- A.J. Vukovich- Age: 19
- Geraldo Perdomo– Age: 20
- Buddy Kennedy– Age: 22
- Glenallen Hill Jr.- Age: 20
- Sheng-Ping Chen- Age: 19
- Neyfy Castillo– Age: 19
- Tristin English– Age: 23
- Kristian Robinson– Age: 19
- Corbin Carroll– Age: 20
- Alek Thomas– Age: 20
- Wilderd Patiño- Age: 19
- Jeferson Espinal– Age: 18
- Dominic Fletcher– Age: 23
- Stuart Fairchild– Age: 24
- Jake McCarthy– Age: 23
- Jorge Barrosa– Age: 19
- Dominic Mirogilo- Age: 25
- Nick Dalesandro– Age: 24
- Manuel Garcia– Age: 20
- Jose Herrera– Age: 23
- Lyle Lin– Age: 23
Outfielders Kristian Robinson, Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas represent the organizations’ top-tier prospects playing this fall. Arizona has made an effort to attack pitching early in the draft, and several arms including 2020 first-round picks Bryce Jarvis and Slade Cecconi will toe the rubber during instructs. 2019 first-round pick Blake Walston joins the team, as well. The lanky 6-foot-5 southpaw posted a 2.45 ERA over two minor league levels in his first professional season in 2019.
All five of Arizona’s selections from the 2020 MLB Draft in Jarvis, Cecconi, Liam Norris, A.J. Vukovich and Brandon Pffadt made the roster. Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo headlines a solid infield along with Blaze Alexander, Glenallen Hill Jr. and Buddy Kennedy.
The catching depth in the D-backs’ farm system leaves a bit to be desired. Daulton Varsho’s emergence in the major leagues leaves the system a bit thin behind the dish. Catching depth is a bit to be desired. Dominic Miroglio wasn’t added to the 60-man roster, he batted .233 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 47 games with Double-A Jackson last season. Manuel Garcia, who signed as a free agent in 2018, is the youngest catcher of the group. He posted a .750 OPS with 11 doubles and two triples in the Dominican Summer League last year.
Overall, the Diamondbacks’ talented farm system filled with pitching and outfield depth round out the instructional league roster. But several under-the-radar names remain to keep an eye on for 2020 and beyond.
Diamondbacks prospects to keep an eye on
Wilderd Patiño- Arizona’s upper-level prospects patrol the outfield and garner plenty of recognition, but Wilderd Patiño is an intriguing name who has shot up the system thanks to his all-around skillset.
Patiño, 19, signed for $985,000 in 2017 after an elbow injury voided his $1.3 million deal with the Texas Rangers. The Venezualn native made his D-backs debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2018, batting .261 with six doubles and a .707 OPS in 34 games. He batted .319 with five doubles, five triples with a .825 OPS in 2019 with rookie level AZL D-backs and Missoula PaddleHeads.
Along with his impressive 2019 season, Patiño flashed his potential in the rookie-level fall league. He showcased his quick bat that makes contact to all fields and his plus-speed. His strong arm and quickness translates well to center field, where he’s primarily played the last two seasons. At the plate, Patiño has an advanced approach and he could tap into more raw power as he progresses through the minors.
As more prospects graduate, Patiño can become the top prospect in the system if he builds upon his tantalizing raw ability.
Levi Kelly- With a velocity-packed fastball and slider, Levi Kelly is making strides in the D-backs farm system. The 21-year-old was thrusted to Low-A Kane County last season and impressed with a 2.15 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 126 strikeouts in 22 starts.
Kelly’s fastball regularly touches the mid-to-high-90s with a hard-breaking slider against lefties and righties. He was added to the D-backs’ 60-player pool this season and . He showcased his arsenal during the intrasquad scrimmages.
There is some reliever risk if Kelly’s changeup doesn’t develop into a consistent third pitch, but there aren’t many pitchers in the system with as much upside as the flame-throwing righty at the moment.
Jeferson Espinal- Similar to Patiño, Espinal is another twitchy outfielder with an array of tools at his disposal.
Signing with the Diamondbacks in 2018 out of the Dominican Republic, Espinal has been highly touted for his speed and athleticism. He sprints out of the batter’s box with long strides and immediate bursts of quickness.
Espinal’s speed translates defensively, where he often gets a good jump on the ball and plays it well in the air. He got his first taste of professional baseball last season, hitting .382 with two homers, two doubles, two triples and 22 stolen bases in the Dominican Summer League. He also batted .286 with four stolen bases in nine games with the rookie level AZL D-backs.
Espinal will get his first glimpse of playing time at instructs this season, and he’s another name to watch closely as he progresses through the minors.
Notable names left off the Diamondbacks instructional league roster
Luis Friás- Right-handed pitcher Luis Frías is another lively arm in the D-backs’ farm system. He earned a spot on the 60-man roster this season, but is not on the instructional league team for the fall. The 22-year-old posted a 2.83 ERA with 101 strkeouts over 16 starts with Single-Season Hilsboro and Low-A Kane County in 2019.
Arm fatigue could be a possible reason why Friás is left off the roster. He comes equipped with a high-90s fastball that reaches 98 mph and a hard breaking curveball. Regardless, Frías is one of the top prospects in the system and his absence is noteworthy.
Seth Beer– First baseman/outfielder Seth Beer is also left off the instructional league roster. Beer, 24, was added to the 60-man roster this season, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and suffered facial contusion after taking a line drive to the face during an intrasquad scrimmage. Injuries may have been a prominent reason why Beer was left off the roster, but he could debut with the D-backs by 2021.
Jon Duplantier– Jon Duplantier made his MLB debut with the D-backs last season, but elbow and shoulder injuries have halted his development at times. He was optioned to Triple-A Reno to start 2020 before the cancellation of Minor League Baseball and won’t partake in instructional league games.
Duplantier, 26, could be an option out of the bullpen for the Diamondbacks when healthy. The right-hander has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a pair of solid off-speed breaking balls in a slider and changeup.
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.