TDG’s Triple Play: The Arizona Diamondbacks
Your senior dynasty analysts enter the second season of the Triple Play! The regular feature breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
Merrill Kelly, Age: 30, SP
Analysis by: Keaton O. DeRocher
Merrill’s Back, Tell A Friend
After spending the past three seasons in the KBO, Kelly signed a two-year, $5,500,000 contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, thereby bringing him stateside for the first time since 2014. In four seasons in the Tampa Bay minors from 2010-2014, Kelly’s numbers weren’t all that bad on the surface. Accumulating an ERA of 3.40, a WHIP of 1.25 and a ground ball rate in the mid-40s. However, his stuff was lacking, only accumulating 379 strikeouts in 527.1 innings pitched. It’s that lack of real out pitches that left the Rays to leave him off the 40 man roster and eventually just cut him loose. He was then scooped up by the SK Wyverns in the KBO.
Merrill’s Korean BBQ
Spending three seasons in the hitter-friendly KBO, Kelly compiled a 3.80 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and 480 strikeouts in 572.1 IP. While there, Kelly was able to refine his mechanics enough to see an uptick in his strikeout rate, most notably in 2018 where his K/9 reached 9.00, the first time he reached that mark in his pro career. Another impressive piece to Kelly’s time in the KBO was how well he adjusted to the KBO training schedule and regiment which included being handcuffed to a fence:
Looking ahead to expectations in the desert, the easy comp that many folks have been throwing out and/or hoping for is Miles Mikolas. If that’s what you were coming for here, I am sorry to disappoint. The lines are easy to connect because of the many parallels to Mikolas in not only the career journey but also the makeup of their stuff and approach. However, there are two major differences between him and Mikolas. The first is Mikolas has pristine, pinpoint accuracy and rarely walks batters while Kelly’s command is average to slightly above average. The second major difference is Mikolas has a well above average curveball as an out pitch. From what I have gathered about Kelly, all of his pitches top out as average which means he will need to rely on his pitchability and command for outs.
Machine Gun Kelly?
Not really. Kelly’s velocity sits in the mid-90’s which isn’t very overpowering in today’s landscape, but his control and five-pitch mix mean he’s certainly worth a look as a backend starter. It’s really tough to project on stats form the KBO but the projections systems don’t have a great outlook on Kelly for the 2019 season. In fact, not one has him pegged for an ERA under 4.00. That’s not ideal. While I do think he’ll be better than that, I don’t see much better. If you’re one of the hopefuls though, he’s worth a flier on in deeper leagues.
David Peralta, 31, OF
Analysis by: Adam Lawler
It’s an odd time in Tempe. Since 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks have had the luxury of premiere bats gracing the lineup card. In 2019, things look a bit different for them as Paul Goldschmidt graces Cardinal red and AJ Pollock sports Dodger blue. Now, a former washout major league pitcher, turned Indy league darling, turned solid major league batter may be the hottest name under the Arizona sun. Strange times indeed.
Better Exit Velocity: Title of His Sex Tape
After a strong 2018 season, one wherein he pushed a .368 wOBA/+130 wRC+, his name was already being bandied about as a breakout star. The biggest eye goggling numbers being the career-high 30 home-runs he posted. This even after the humidor was installed and the handwringing about the death of offense was eulogized amongst the fantasy masses.
Zach Buchanan of the Athletic wrote about what happened during an interview with Peralta this winter. A small tweak of the hand placement prior to the pitch being thrown was all that was needed for an extra thump.
The Statcast data plays out too. Peralta’s 2017 launch angle – a meager 4.2 degrees – elevated to 6.7 in 2018. He thumped the ball too. The exit velocity sat in the 91st percentile. For reference, that puts him in the same company as Manny Machado and Marcell Ozuna. While we hope to see his barrels per plate appearance increase, it’s serviceable and worth monitoring.
Cool. Cool, Cool, Coollll….
This year, Peralta’s outlook has a pretty wide delta. He could get traded, as it’s been reported in a number of outlets that Arizona has been willing to listen to offers. He could end up hitting in the top of the order behind a suspect lineup sporting Jake Lamb, Eduardo Escobar, and Ketel Marte… I listed the good-ish players for what it’s worth. He could wind up in the three-spot and post some pretty respectable numbers. Still, it is a fun thought exercise to wonder what could be/could have been if the Diamondbacks’ front office would have held on for one more season.
In dynasty terms, TDG ranked Peralta as the #51 outfielder. That seems a little light to me. Names like Stephen Piscotty, Alex Verdugo, and Mallex Smith would’ve all been placed behind Peralta. If this were a 3-year outlook, there’s an argument to thrust Peralta in the top 30. For now though, the 31-year-old is an undervalued asset and one you should pounce on if you have the chance.
Kristian Robinson, 18, OF
Analysis by: Patrick Magnus
Youth, Tools, and Hype
While only 17 years of age, the young Bahamian 6’3 190 pound outfielder has already begun to generate a ton of hype amongst dynasty players. Admittedly, from this analyst only after being told about him from Craig Goldstein on Dynasty’s Child. What was once a secret amongst our podcast audience, and its’ several clumsy talking heads, is now a part of the dynasty-hype machine. So find your seat, stow your luggage, and get comfortable. Let’s see how legit this hype is.
Robinson Crushes Baseballs
|Year | Level||PA||ISO||OPS||BB%||K%|
One might take a glimpse at his numbers and not be blown away. However, it’s important to realize his performance came when he was an average of 3.1 years younger than the competition he was facing. Which he’s done before in the Perfect Game events including four “loud and hard to miss triples” in tournament play. This presumably had a least some factor in Arizona signing the 16th ranked international prospect of 2017.
In 2018 Robinson displayed both power (7 taters) and speed (12 bags). At his age that alone should be enough to get our attention, but then he also put up a .886 OPS between two teams. The swing is big, which has led him to a large number of whiffs (26.9% strikeout rate), but he balanced that a bit with his patience (11.9% walk rate), and certainly his contact (.286 AVG). The ISO isn’t eye-popping, but he was 17!
Becoming a Legal Adult in 2019
In his age-18 season, we should count on seeing more of the same. He’ll be quite young for his competition again if he starts the season in Low-A or A-ball. Thus, he may continue to strikeout, but I’m hoping to see improvement in that area as he’s been scouted previously for having an advanced approach at the plate. I’m hoping for an ISO closer to .180 and homers in the teens. He’ll likely have an abundance of stolen bases. This is because he’s quick (70-grade speed on Fangraphs), but also because stolen bases come much easier in the lower minors.
Thus at one end of the spectrum, we have an incredible talent with tools off that charts who has a swing with some holes, but we also have a player far younger than his peers and succeeding. There’s a balance here for our expectations for the teenage beefcake. More power, more stolen bases, and a hit tool that may lag behind a bit as he faces more advanced pitching.
Tools, Tools, Tools, but Risk, Risk, Risk
The power is going to come easy for the 18-year-old outfielder. Athleticism is in his genes; his grand-uncle was a four-time olympian. As cliche as it is, the crack-off his bat gets me extremely excited for his potential. My concern? The outcome of many toolsy players is they don’t develop the plate skills necessary to use them. That big swing that creates such a dreamy crack of the bat? It’s come with a whole lot of swing and miss as well. He’ll need to refine his swing before I’ve completely bought in, and with his current price in dynasty leagues, if you don’t own him, you’ve probably already missed out.
Still, he remains a prospect worth holding. Although there’s a tremendous amount of risk here, there’s little doubt that Robinson’s tools mean that he’ll continue to rise in prospect rankings. As he’s now a top 50-100 prospect on most lists, he’ll likely be within the top 25 after next season, with the upside for even higher rankings. For me, he’s a prospect worth owning, but not necessarily worth keeping.
Tools first prospects often come with tremendous hype which makes them extremely valuable in dynasty. Even now you’re able to acquire major league talent for the youngster, and you’ll be able to cash in even more in a couple of years’ time. My advice here is to buy or hold. Let that stock rise, and if he can cut down that swing-and-miss, well then you’ve got a top prospect on your hands.
Previously Covered Teams
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|AL WEST||AL CENTRAL||AL EAST|