Last month, as spring training began, we took a look at Arizona prospects who might have a chance to break camp with the big club. Now that we have some data, it’s time to see who is getting a real shot at playing time and how they might be taking advantage of those opportunities.
First, some bad news. Socrates Brito had surgery this week to repair a dislocated finger suffered March 8th in a game against Mexico’s WBC team. We mentioned that Brito was battling somewhat long odds of making the team anyway, but this news would seem to make that even less likely.
Until the injury, Brito had the most AB of any rookie in camp. His .572 OPS, though, was quite a disappointment to those hoping he might be able to break into an OF that includes A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas and several other players who are utility guys capable of playing the OF (Chris Hermann and Brandon Drury) or guys brought in from other organizations who have proven to be useful bench players (Jeremy Hazelbaker, Gregor Blanco and Daniel Descalso).
Beyond Brito, the Arizona prospects closest to having a real shot at the MLB roster are infielders and a couple have gotten at least a bit of a look. Of those, the most successful by far has been Ildemaro Vargas. The 25 year old former independent leaguer was picked up by the Diamondbacks in 2015 and he navigated both AA and AAA pretty handily. It would seem that if he is going to be a major leaguer, the time is soon. The switch-hitter has a touch of power and decent speed and can play multiple spots in the infield and the outfield. The problem is there is just no room for him. His best chance would seem to be beating out Hazelbaker for the last spot. That’s something on which to keep an eye.
On the pitching side, Arizona is excited about the way Anthony Banda has thrown so far in camp. Reports are that he has gained a tick or two on his fastball and he has looked quite good in his 4 IP so far. With neither Patrick Corbin nor Shelby Miller getting off to a hot start on their springs, it will be interesting to see what the team decides to do if things continue to progress as they have to this point. Banda was going to be an option at some point this season and the team has expectations of trying to contend (misguided as you might think that is) so there is some intrigue in the situation going forward.
Beyond that, not much is interesting as far as spring performances go. There was some buzz at the start of camp about 27 year old Japanese import Yuhei Nakaushiro, who was signed prior to the 2016 season and pitched at four different stops in the system last year. It’s not clear exactly what the buzz was all about since in those four stops, Nakaushiro pitched only 29.1 innings. The lefty did show some strike out ability, but with just 10 IP above AA, he is an unknown quantity.
Beyond those few areas of semi-competition for a few young Diamondbacks, there is not much to observe this spring. We will keep you posted over the next several weeks.