After three straight winning seasons from 2017-2019, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been one of the worst teams in baseball in the last two seasons. Their 25-35 record in 2020 netted them the #6 pick in the 2021 draft, which they used on Jordan Lawlar, and they’ll now have the #2 pick in the 2022 draft thanks to a 110 loss 2021 season. Needless to say, this is a team in full rebuild. But luckily, Arizona has some solid young pieces they can build around and a solid farm system with intriguing talent on both sides of the ball.
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Arizona Diamondbacks 2022 Outlook & Dynasty Report
Buy-Low on Zac Gallen?
After emerging as a back-end fantasy ace in 2019-2020, posting back-to-back sub-3.00 ERA seasons, Zac Gallen endured a tumultuous 2021 season. In 23 starts, Gallen recorded a 4.30 ERA and 1.29 WHIP while seeing both his BB% and K% regress from 2020. But it wasn’t all bad. Sure, Gallen was a disappointment for those that drafted him within the top-100 as their ace or #2 starter, but Gallen wasn’t quite as bad as his surface stats would indicate.
To start, his xERA and xFIP were both below 4.00, while his strand rate dropped a full 9% from his career norm. On top of that, Gallen ranked 29th and 41st respectively in K% and K-BB% in 2021 out of the 96 starters to exceed 120 innings. Two other names right around him in K-BB% were Sandy Alcantara and Max Fried, both of which will likely be drafted 40-70 spots ahead of Gallen in 2022 drafts.
The last area I want to point out is Gallen’s deep arsenal. Gallen throws five different offerings 8.3% of the time or more with his changeup, curveball, and slider all recording a whiff rate above 30%. His three most frequently used offerings (FF/CB/CH) all had a SLG allowed below .400 as well. In fact, eight of the 19 home runs Gallen allowed in 2021 came off his slider or cutter, both of which he used below 9% of the time with a SLG allowed of .667 and .543 respectively.
Gallen still has the stuff to be a #2 starter moving forward. But at the moment, he’s being valued more as an SP3 or SP4 (#38 SP in early 2022 Fantrax ADP). While I don’t believe he’ll return to ace levels, Gallen is a solid buy-low right now in dynasty leagues and a pitcher I’ll be targeting heavily in 2022 as my SP3 or SP4.
Can Daulton Varsho Be A Top-5 Dynasty Catcher?
The short answer here is yes. Of course, this all depends on whether he’ll receive enough playing time behind the plate to retain eligibility. But for 2022 at least, Varsho will have catcher eligibility, and that’s a beautiful thing. After a slow start to the season that saw him sitting with a .144/.267/.211 slash entering play on July 20th, Varsho proceeded to slash .294/.344/.511 for the rest of the season with 10 HR, 31 RBI, 32 R, and 3 SB in 210 PA.
Daulton Varsho from 7/20 on. (Ranks among C with 100+ PA in that span)
AVG: .294 (3rd)
OBP: .344 (8th)
SLG: .521 (6th)
wOBA: .371 (6th)
wRC+: 130 (6th)
ISO: .247 (6th)
HR: 10 (5th)
RBI: 31 (5th)
R: 32 (T-3rd)
SB: 3 (3rd)
Top-5 catcher for me in 2022.#FantasyBaseball
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) November 6, 2021
None of this should really come as much of a surprise. Varsho consistently displayed above-average power and speed in the minor leagues, averaging 25 HR and 27 SB per 600 PA in the minors with a .302/.372/.527 slash line. In the Majors, he’s hit for more power while cutting back on the stolen bases, but Varsho checks off many of the boxes we look for in an elite fantasy catcher. He can hit for average, draw walks, hit for power, and even add in double-digit steals annually. All of this without the everyday rigors of catching. As long as Varsho plays enough at catcher to retain eligibility, her should cement himself as a top-5 fantasy catcher annually.
What To Do With Kristian Robinson
This is a tough question to answer as it’s not cut and dry. If we rewind two years, Kristian Robinson was considered by many to be a top-10 dynasty prospect thanks to his tantalizing blend of power, speed, and athleticism. Not, he’s no longer a top-100 prospect and his future is in flux due to off-the-field incidents that leave him currently on probation. Because of that, we have zero idea when he’s going to get back into game action and what he’ll even look like when he does. Remember, Robinson hasn’t played in a competitive game since 2019 and hasn’t really had any substantial training since 2020 summer camp. And even then, the reports regarding his conditioning, contact skills, and approach weren’t promising.
So, that leaves the question of what should one do with Robinson in dynasty leagues. If you have him, I’d hold tight for now. Selling him now would be at potentially the lowest value he’ll ever be and something you might regret later on down the road. But then again, he could never pan out and you get nothing. I’m still in the mindset that there’s a greater chance he develops into a Major Leaguer than one that never makes it at all though. If you don’t have Robinson, now is an ideal time to check in with the person that does in your dynasty league(s). You can likely acquire him for dirt-cheap. Remember, although it’s been a rough 24 months or so for Robinson, the talent remains enticing for fantasy purposes.
2022 Sleeper: Seth Beer
With the DH likely (hopefully) coming to the National League in 2022, that should give Seth Beer a chance to start regularly for the Diamondbacks. While Beer is a below-average runner and defender, his offensive abilities at the plate give him the chance to develop into an impact bat at the Major League level. In three years at Clemson, Beer hit .321 with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts and 56 home runs in 188 games. Those contact skills, on-base abilities, and raw power translated seamlessly to the minors as well where he slashed .292/.392/.509 in 289 games with 71 doubles, 54 home runs, and only an 18.8% strikeout rate.
Beer already received a cup of coffee (more like a shot) late in 2021 (4/9, 2B, HR) and is in line for regular at-bats in 2022 if the National League adopts the DH in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason. If they do, Beer would be a phenomenal late-round target due to his potential at the plate. This is an above-average hitter with plus raw power that can post a solid AVG/OBP with around 25 homers annually as well.
Player to Avoid in 2022: The Bullpen
This is kind of a cop-out answer, but it’s where I’m at right now. At this point, I’m avoiding this DBacks bullpen entirely in 2022. There’s not one player I’d feel comfortable drafting in 12 or 15-teamers that is currently on the roster. This could all change however throughout the offseason, but with Arizona likely not contending in 2022, the odds of them bringing in a big name bullpen piece are slim. But with that said, in your deeper draft and hold formats, I’d be willing to use a late-round pick on either Corbin Martin or JB Bukauskas. Both were unimpressive at the Major League level in 2021, but have shown electric stuff that could make them decent pen arms in the long run. If no clear-cut option emerges, either them or Taylor Widener could sneak some save ops in 2022.
Top-15 Dynasty Prospects
|11||Deyvison De Los Santos||3B||18.5||Lo-A||2024|
This is one of my favorite farm systems in baseball. Alek Thomas is as underrated as a top-50 prospect can be, but there’s a plus hit tool here and 15+/20+ upside. He looks tailormade for the #2 spot in the order with his contact skills, speed, and on-base abilities. If it weren’t for his season-ending shoulder injury, Corbin Carroll could be a top-3 overall dynasty prospect right now. The hit tool and speed are elite, but it will be interesting to see where his power development is at following shoulder surgery. Geraldo Perdomo didn’t have the greatest year overall, but his contact skills, higher OBP, and defense give him a solid floor. He’s a decent buy-low target in dynasty leagues.
For FYPDs, Jordan Lawlar is one of the top names in this year’s draft that likely will fall a few spots due to his shoulder injury. Don’t let him slip past pick five though. Two other names for later in your FYPDs are Ryan Bliss, a middle infielder from Auburn, and Adrian Del Castillo, a catcher from Miami. Del Castillo’s stock fell in his final collegiate season so he’s more of a late-round flier, but Bliss has shown good contact skills and a sneaky power/speed blend. He’s a great target after the first 40 picks or so.
On the pitching side of things, Blake Walston remains very intriguing to me as a southpaw with projection and a great feel for his plus curveball. His 28.8% strikeout rate and 8.1% walk rate are encouraging, too. Both Slade Cecconi and Bryce Jarvis had up and down first pro seasons after being drafted in 2020. Each could be #3 starters down the road.
Five Prospects On The Rise
A.J. Vukovich, 3B: The 2020 4th round pick needs to work on his plate approach (5.5 BB%, 26.3 K%), but there’s plus raw power here and the potential for a 50-grade hit tool in time. His price tag is still very reasonable in dynasty leagues, so now is a good time to try to scoop him up before his value rises.
Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B: As an 18-year-old getting his first taste of professional baseball in the United States, Deyvison De Los Santos sure did impress. The Dominican third baseman slashed .295/.370/.489, displaying solid contact skills and pitch recognition while flashing plus raw power. This could be a 55-hit, 60-power bat in time that should fly up prospect lists in 2022 and beyond with top-100 potential.
Ryne Nelson, RHP: After an impressive debut in 2019, Ryne Nelson broke out in 2021 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 34.7% strikeout rate in 22 starts this past season. Nelson’s ability to miss bats is easily noticeable when watching his starts with a plus fastball/slider combination leading the way. Trimming his walk rate to 8.5% (13% in college) was also beneficial to Nelson’s success this season. He’s still a bit inconsistent in the command department, but this is an arm on the rise with mid-rotation upside if the command and control continue improving.
Drey Jameson, RHP: Nelson wasn’t the only breakout arm in this organization this past season. Drey Jameson also saw his dynasty stock increase significantly after showing improved command and control from what we saw in 2018-2019 in college and his first season in the minors. Jameson dropped his walk rate to 7.8% while still being able to miss bats at a 30.1% clip as well. He’s smaller in size, but Jameson has four quality offerings that all could be 50 or higher with two potential plus pitches in his fastball and curveball.
Cooper Hummel, C/OF: Let’s end with Cooper Hummer, a prospect that wasn’t even really on the radar until this season. The 2016 18th round pick slashed .311/.432/.546 across 366 plate appearances with 21 doubles, 12 home runs, four steals, and more walks (63) than strikeouts (61). His 2021 season was spent entirely in Triple-A, splitting his 92 games exactly down the middle between Milwaukee and Arizona. After coming to Arizona is when he really broke out, slashing .353/.429/.575. This is more of a deep league target, but Hummel could provide some sneaky 2022 value at the Major League level if Arizona has an injury at catcher or in the outfield.
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