As the Arizona Diamondbacks try to stay in contention, or mix in a look ahead to 2020, these five prospects can help the team this year.
Entering the start of an inter-league road series against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks are 20-14 and just one game behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. It even looks sustainable, with the team boasting the third-best run differential in the National League (+30).
The Diamondbacks seemed to be moving toward a rebuild, but now into May they’re in the race. That latter point could change quickly, but as of now the plan from here on out in 2019 could run the spectrum from trying push for a playoff spot to putting both eyes firmly on 2020.
Via MLB.com’s list entering the season, 27 of Arizona’s top 30 prospects are homegrown talent. They also have eight of the first 94 picks in June’s draft, so several more internally-cultivated prospects are coming into the pipeline soon. One prospect on the preseason prospect list, pitcher Yoan Lopez, has arrived in Arizona and been a solid bullpen arm so far (0.68 ERA-4.12 FIP, 0.83 WHIP over 17 appearances).
Wherever the Diamondbacks go from here in the standings, and how that may change the internal short-term view of the club, these five prospects can absolutely help things this season.
5. C Daulton Varsho
Arizona is not getting much offensively behind the plate, with Carson Kelly, the recently-signed Blake Swihart and John Ryan Murphy currently holding down the fort. If or when Alex Avila makes it back from a strained left quad he may help, but it’ll be hard to rely on a 32-year old catcher for anything.
A second-round pick in 2017, Daulton Varsho has hit from the word go in the Minors as he posted a .902 OPS in his first 50 pro games over the rest of that 2017 campaign. A broken right hamate bone sidelined him last June, but he came back to High-A Visalia in August and wound up hitting .286 with an .813 OPS and 19 stolen bases over 80 games at that level.
Varsho, the son of former Major League outfielder Gary Varsho, is only hitting .247 through 22 games at Double-A so far this season (entering Monday). But he has five home runs and 15 RBI, with an .822 OPS, three stolen bases, 11 walks and 13 strikeouts.
It might be a little early for Varsho to make a legitimate push for a big league promotion, with only his current sample in Double-A above High-A ball in his Minor League career. That said, if he continues to produce and his batting average rises, he will be hard for the Diamondbacks to totally ignore.