Get your popcorn ready because you’re in for a treat with the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ Top 15 Fantasy Baseball prospects list. This is a system that features three future Rookie of the Year contenders that would be #1 on just about every other team’s prospect list. It also includes three MLB-ready starting pitchers and two more on the way. A few important organizational notes to mention are the very hitting-friendly environments that their Double-A and Triple-A present, which can mislead you if you are only scouting stat lines, so keep that in mind when evaluating both hitters and pitchers at those levels. Secondly, pitching coach Brent Strom is a magician when it comes to helping pitchers reach their potential. It won’t work with every pitcher, but it is something to keep in mind. Enough chatter, let’s get into why you’re here:
Arizona Diamondbacks Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Corbin Carroll, OF
Age: 22/2022 Stats (RK/AA/AAA): 362 AB/.307 AVG/.425 OBP/.610 SLG/24 HR/31 SB/89 R/62 RBI
MLB: 104 AB/.260 AVG/.330 OBP/.500 SLG/4 HR/2 SB/13 R/14 RBI
Corbin Carroll was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick (16th overall) in 2019 out of Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington. The 5’10” 165 lb outfielder was regarded as one of the best prep bats in his draft class, and he’s done nothing but perform at an extremely high level thus far, rising to the top prospect in the Dbacks system—and arguably all of baseball. And that’s with missing most of the 2021 season with shoulder surgery. Carroll’s rise can be attributed to being an electric five-tool player who can impact the game in every way possible. While it’s hard to isolate one specific skill as his calling card, what will likely make him most valuable in fantasy leagues is a plus to plus-plus hit tool that includes an advanced feel for the strike zone, excellent barrel control, and great swing decisions. Carroll also has game-changing, plus-plus speed that plays on the base paths (52 MiLB career SB in 539 AB, 100th percentile per Statcast) and in center field, where he has good range and an above-average arm. The power is likely his weakest tool, but don’t let his size fool you as he has shown surprising pop, and there’s still time for growth at age 22. Carroll is a gifted athlete, and a true five-category contributor in the top third of the lineup, and if he can stay healthy he has the skills to be a perennial All-Star.
2. Jordan Lawlar, SS
Age: 20/2022 Stats (RK/A/A+/AA): 389 AB/.303 AVG/.401 OBP/.509 SLG/16 HR/39 SB/98 R/62 RBI
Jordan Lawlar was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick (6th overall) in 2021 out of Jesuit Prep High School in Dallas, Texas. The 6’2″ 190 lb shortstop is another five-tool player that has climbed the system ladder with relative ease until hitting the Double-A wall, albeit in a small sample size of 20 games (.212/.299/.353 with 28 strikeouts) and being multiple years younger than his competition. Lawlar’s game is as smooth as they come both in the box and in the field, and projects to be a rare blend of above-average to plus tools across the board. He possesses a quick compact swing that helps him cover the zone well paired with a good eye, which should help him maintain a solid to plus OBP. We’re already seeing the power develop, and at age 20 there’s still plenty of room for growth. Lawlar posted elite stolen base numbers last year (39), and while he may lose a step as he continues to physically mature, he should still be a stolen base threat at the highest level. That speed should also help him stay at shortstop where he has displayed elite range and an above-average to plus arm. Lawlar likely starts the 2023 season in Double-A with a chance to follow the Corbin Carroll path of a late MLB debut if he performs. Like Carroll, the main question with Lawlar is whether he can stay healthy as he has already dealt with multiple injuries in his short professional career. If he can, we’re looking at an impact top third of the order bat with a power and speed blend at a premium position. Sign me up for that.
3. Druw Jones, OF
Age: 19—Did not play in 2022
Druw Jones was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick (2nd overall) in 2022 out of Wesleyan High School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. Stop me if you’ve heard this already, and I promise it’s the last one, but Jones is also a five-tool player, with superstar upside. The son of 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones, Druw Jones has already begun carving out his own legacy by winning a state title and Gatorade’s Georgia High School Player of the Year this past season. Unfortunately shortly after signing, Jones suffered a labrum tear while taking batting practice, resulting in shoulder surgery. The good news is he is expected to be ready for spring. Already 6’4″ and 180 lb, Jones is already a physical specimen on the field with a complete set of projectable plus tools. Jones makes loud contact with elite bat speed that should make for a tantalizing hit+power blend. He should settle into plus speed that will help him be an asset on the bases and easily stick in center field, with great range, instincts, and a plus-plus arm. While there are still some inconsistencies, and adjustments to make, given his profile at 19 years old and with his bloodlines, I’d imagine he makes the adjustments required. Jones should start in the low minors, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he rips through the competition and finds himself on a fast track. The sky is the limit.
4. Brandon Pfaadt, RHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 167 IP/3.83 ERA/1.16 WHIP/218 K
Brandon Pfaadt was the Diamondbacks’ fifth-round pick in 2020 out of Bellarmine University. The 6’4″ 220 lb righty didn’t get much hype coming out of the draft but has evolved into a quality pitching prospect with above-average command, and a developing arsenal. Pfaadt added weight to his frame coming into 2022 and it appeared to help him have a dominant season, leading all minor leaguers in innings pitched and strikeouts. Pfaadt even handled the hitting-friendly Triple-A environment well, posting a 2.63 ERA, 0.99 WHIP with 74 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. That kind of performance has put him on a collision course with an MLB rotation spot. Pfaadt’s fastball is average in the sense of velocity (sits 92-94, touches 96), but it has good spin, and he can locate it with plus command, which allows it to play up to above-average overall. He gets plenty of swing-and-miss on it, but we’ll see how the velocity plays against the highest-level hitting. His best pitch is arguably his slider, which is his primary out pitch and while it is slower than expected at 82 mph, it generates plenty of swings. Pfaadt has flashed an above-average changeup but it is still inconsistent at times. He also has a curveball, but that along with the changeup needs work to be average to above-average offerings, which Strom could help with. Pfaadt doesn’t have the elite velocity most look for in starting pitchers, but his repeatable delivery should help him maintain the command that helps his profile play up. A mid-rotation role is a real possibility.
5. Drey Jameson, RHP
Age: 25/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 132.2 IP/6.31 ERA/1.49 WHIP/132 K
MLB: 24.1 IP/1.48 ERA/1.11 WHIP/24 K
Drey Jameson was the Diamondbacks’ compensatory first-round pick (34th overall) in 2019 out of Ball State. The 6’0″ 165 lb righty is a good example of not judging a book by its cover. Despite his size and poor surface numbers at Triple-A, Jameson possesses plus fastball velocity due to his athletic ability and a nasty slider that helped him have success in his short taste of the Majors in 2022. Jameson’s fastball sits in the mid-to-high 90s with good action, but the command can be inconsistent. He also throws a sinker that works well paired with the action of his potentially above-average changeup that averages 86 mph. His out pitch is a plus slider that averages 85 mph with sharp horizontal movement, and tunnels well with his fastball. His size will breed durability questions so his floor may be a back-end reliever role, but he repeats his delivery well and has a starting pitcher’s arsenal so there are factors that are in his favor to remain a starter. Jameson is a stuff-over-command pitcher, so if his command takes a step forward, he could unlock more levels than his current mid-rotation projection.
6. Ryne Nelson, RHP
Age: 25/2022 Stats (AAA): 136 IP/5.43 ERA/1.39 WHIP/128 K
MLB: 18.1 IP/1.47 ERA/0.82 WHIP/16 K
Ryne Nelson was the Diamondbacks’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Oregon. The 6’3 184 lb former two-way righty started focusing on pitching in 2019 and has risen all the way to making the Majors in 2022. Before shoulder inflammation shut him down, Nelson was enjoying success at the highest level mostly due to a plus fastball that sits 95 mph and can miss bats at the top of the zone. Nelson’s future role will hinge on the development of his off-speed pitches as he won’t be able to rely on his fastball as heavily over a longer sample. His curveball averages 77 mph with sharp drop and with better control could become an above-average pitch. His slider sits 83 mph with tight horizontal break and also needs control refinement, and neither pitch currently helps him get left-handed batters out. The changeup is a distant fourth pitch, but arsenal refinement isn’t linear and can come at different times. If he can’t develop, there’s a chance he could be an effective late-inning reliever with the velocity playing up more in a short role, but the hope is there is growth and he can be a solid starting pitcher with mid-rotation upside.
7. Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B
Age: 19/2022 Stats (A/A+/AA): 513 AB/.306 AVG/.348 OBP/.499 SLG/22 HR/5 SB/72 R/106 RBI
Deyvison De Los Santos was signed by the Diamondbacks in the 2019 International Free Agent signing period for $200k out of the Dominican Republic. The 6’1″ 185 lb teenager has risen up prospect ranks this past year thanks to his prestigious power, making it all the way to Double-A before his 20th birthday. De Los Santos has plus bat speed and can drive the ball with power to all fields. He does make some questionable swing decisions which might hold him back, but it is worth noting his 157 hits in 2022 while he was often the youngest player on the field so maybe the hit tool has more potential than initially projected. De Los Santos’ approach will have to improve if he wants to have success against elite stuff, as we got a glimpse from the AFL, where the pitching isn’t even regarded as very high quality (but they are significantly older in age). His other tools aren’t very loud as he won’t be a factor on the bases or much in the field. There’s a chance he could stick at third with improvement, but he might be more of a 1B/DH type so the hit tool and approach will have to be good enough to allow him to get to his power. That being said, there’s big-league power in the bat, and at his age, there’s plenty of time for him to refine his aggressive approach. The upside is a middle-of-the-order power bat.
8. Landon Sims, RHP
Age: 22—Did not play in 2022
Landon Sims was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick (34th overall) in 2022 out of Mississippi State. The 6’2″ 227 lb righty was a clear top 20 pick before undergoing Tommy John surgery last March. Sims is the definition of a power pitcher, featuring a fastball that sits mid-90s and has elite riding movement, which could make for a plus-plus pitch. His out pitch is a mid-80s slider that has great sweeping action and induces a lot of swings. Sims also has a changeup, but we’ve seen a limited sample given he was a reliever and then suffered the injury. His command is below average and it will likely remain so as he returns from injury and knocks the rust off. Whether Sims is a starting pitcher or reliever will depend on how he comes back from injury, the development of his changeup, and the overall command of his arsenal. The floor seems relatively high given Sims’ fastball/slider combination should play in a high leverage relief role should he not reach his potential ceiling of a starting pitcher with good strikeout upside.
9. Jorge Barrosa, OF
Age: 22/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 474 AB/.278 AVG/.372 OBP/.439 SLG/13 HR/26 SB/90 R/57 RBI
Jorge Barrosa was signed by the Diamondbacks in the 2017 International Free Agent signing period for $415k out of Venezuela. The 5’10” 165 lb switch-hitting outfielder has jumped back up prospect ranks after a strong 2022 that hinted at being more impactful at the plate than previously seen. That could be a product of the friendly hitting environments of Double-A, but Barrosa has above-average bat-to-ball skills, a quality eye (65 BB to 80 K), and has been young at every level he’s been at, reaching Double-A as a 21-year-old. Barrosa’s carrying card is his plus defense in center field, where his above-average speed and plus instincts shine. While some write him off because he’s likely to be below-average in the power department, there could be sneaky potential in his profile given his contact and eye blend, ability to be a threat on the bases, and play plus defense at a premium position. The floor is a fourth outfielder, with room for more if the bat holds or improves as he continues his ascent.
10. Ivan Melendez, 1B
Age: 23/2022 Stats (RK/A): 97 AB/.206 AVG/.358 OBP/.351 SLG/3 HR/0 SB/13 R/8 RBI
Ivan Melendez was the Diamondbacks’ second-round pick in 2022 out of Texas. The 6’3″ 225 lb slugging first baseman struggled in his first taste of pro ball in 2022, but it was a small sample, and it’s far too early to draw any strong conclusions. Melendez fits the prototypical first baseman profile with extreme raw power and little else to offer speed or defense-wise. He should be able to stay at first, but a move to DH could be in the cards as well if the bat warrants it or the defense development lags. Melendez projects to have an average hit tool and does have a solid eye (13 BB to 25 K), which was one of the few bright spots we did see from him in 2022. Those factors should allow him to get to his plus-plus raw power in games. To have success at the highest level Melendez will need his bat to do the heavy lifting, but with the power he possesses that is well within reason. The upside is a middle-of-the-order impact power bat.
11. A.J. Vukovich, 3B
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 468 AB/.276 AVG/.308 OBP/.449 SLG/17 HR/36 SB/61 R/78 RBI
A.J. Vukovich was the Diamondbacks’ fourth-round pick in 2020 out of East Troy High School in Wisconsin. The 6’5″ 210 lb third baseman posted a productive 2022 season that earned him a promotion to Double-A by the age of 21 where he had success albeit in a small 11-game stretch (.295/.311/.432 2 HR/15 R+RBI). Vukovich’s best tool is his growing power, which should continue to evolve as he adds muscle to his athletic 6’5″ frame. However, it can be limited in games due to his very aggressive approach, which leads to inconsistent contact, and is something he will need to refine as he faces tougher competition. Vukovich ran up the stolen base numbers in 2022, but he’s likely to have below-average to average speed as the body matures so I wouldn’t expect high totals at the highest level. There’s a chance he could keep developing at third to become average there with an above-average arm, but a move to a corner outfield could be in his future. Vukovich should start the season in Double-A.
12. Blaze Alexander, SS
Age: 23/2022 Stats (RK/AA/AAA): 352 AB/.301 AVG/.389 OBP/.540 SLG/20 HR/10 SB/57 R/59 RBI
Blaze Alexander was the Diamondbacks’ eleventh-round pick in 2018 out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The 6’0″ 160 lb shortstop bounced back in 2022 after a disappointing 2021 season at High-A Hillsboro. The main question is how much of his 2022 season was skills growth vs. park factor-induced. The answer is likely somewhere in between as Alexander has had some success aside from 2021 with a solid approach and feel for the game on both sides of the ball, but probably won’t be a 20+ HR threat at the highest level, and he strikes out a lot for having a contact-over-power profile. Alexander’s carrying tool is his plus-plus arm which is plenty good to stay at short, with good range despite having average speed. But unless there is more consistency with the bat, which is possible, he is likely a utility player. Jordan Lawlar’s fast rise might make a trade the best pathway for Alexander to become an everyday shortstop.
13. Kristian Robinson, OF
Age: 22/2019 Stats (A-/A): 255 AB/.282 AVG/.368 OBP/.514 SLG/14 HR/17 SB/43 R/51 RBI
Kristian Robinson was signed by the Diamondbacks in the 2017 International Free Agent signing period for $2.5 million out of the Bahamas. The 6’3″ 190 lb outfielder has the tools to be much higher on this list, but there is still a fair amount of uncertainty given he has not played in a professional game since 2019 due to legal issues. The positive side is he has been at the complex training, and his probation ends in February which hopefully allows him to fully participate. The last we saw, Robinson displayed plus bat speed that generated jaw-dropping raw power. He was able to make enough contact to get to his power in games, but there is still an aggressiveness to his approach. The lack of game development could hurt him there, but there’s a chance the power is loud enough to initially mask the likely under-developed hit tool. Robinson was projected as an average runner with an above-average arm that could be adequate in a corner outfield spot. But with so much time passed since 2019, it is hard to say what his tools will look like so we could be in for a surprise when he is hopefully back playing in spring. The upside is an All-Star middle-of-the-order power bat.
14. Wilderd Patino, OF
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A/A+): 366 AB/.290 AVG/.365 OBP/.432 SLG/9 HR/67 SB/68 R/53 RBI
Wilderd Patino was signed by the Diamondbacks in the 2017 International Free Agent signing period for $985k out of Venezuela. The 6’1″ 175 lb outfielder is built like a young Starling Marte and is an electric factory. Patino oozes athleticism with loud tools such as plus bat speed and plus speed that impacts the game in multiple ways. You feel it when he barrels a ball, but the poor swing decisions contribute to too many strikeouts and ground balls. Patino was younger than his 2022 competition and has some development runway, so if he can refine his approach he could be a regular with plus stolen base potential and above-average center-field defense.
15. Blake Walston, LHP
Age: 21/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 124 IP/4.79 ERA/1.40 WHIP/137 K
Blake Walston was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick (26th overall) in 2019 out of New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. The 6’5″ 175 lb lefty is a former Gatorade High School Player of the Year and has made his way to Double-A as a 21-year-old. Walston has a starting pitcher’s frame and an arsenal that he mixes well to match, which features four pitches that all project to be at least average. The curveball is mid-70s with good spin and depth that serves as his best pitch. Walston also has a mid-80s changeup he uses mostly against righties and a mid-80s slider he mixes in against lefties, both of which have shown progress. The concern is his fastball velocity has fluctuated quite a bit, and it may be too hittable against tougher competition, especially if it’s in the 9-93 mph range. Walston is still very young so there’s plenty of time for that to develop and stabilize, but it will probably be the key to his future role, whether in the rotation or as a swingman. Walston should start the season in Double-A, but could still be a year or two away from debuting unless we see a sustained increase in velocity.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Zac BonDurant & Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire