TDG’S Triple Play: Arizona Diamondbacks!
The Triple Play is back for a sixth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
This week I (@barrington_phil) am joined by Ryan Epperson (@ppenayr) and Greg Hoogkamp (@GregHoogkamp). Follow us on Twitter and send us any questions, feedback, disagreements, what have yous, in the comments. (At the very end of the post you can see our three topics/movie quotes/song titles).
Alek Thomas, Age: 22, Position: CF
Analysis by: Greg Hoogkamp
“You’re the Inspiration”
Alek Thomas has been around baseball his entire life, his father Allen worked for the White Sox for nearly two decades as a Strength and Conditioning coach; baseball is in his blood. He has been around Major League clubhouses since he was knee-high to a grasshopper and this has helped Thomas navigate his way to the big club in Phoenix. Thomas was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2018 draft out of Mt Carmel High School in Chicago. He was a three sport star (football/basketball) who was committed to Texas Christian to play both baseball and football before the D-Backs selected him in the 2nd round and paid him an over-slot bonus of $1.2 million.
“Make me smile”
The left-handed hitting outfielder was highly regarded as a prospect working his way inside the top 50 (49) on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 list in 2020. His balanced all-around game is what makes him such a great talent. An above average hit tool, plus speed combined with untapped raw power and solid defense should allow him to grow into a Major League regular for a long time. Thomas’ minor league stats are impressive. In three plus seasons, he has produced a .313/.389/.499 slash line with an 11.4% walk rate and a 20.8% K rate with a mid-80’s zone contact rate. He moved very quickly for a high school player, despite losing the 2020 season because of the COVID shutdown; he needed just 1243 at bats to climb from Rookie Ball to the big leagues.
“Love me tomorrow”
Thomas got his first taste of Major League experience in 2022 accumulating 411 plate appearances. Success did not come right away as he ended up with a .231/.275/.344 slash line which adds up to an uninspiring 71 WRC+. The major leagues have obviously been Thomas’ biggest challenge to date and his usual solid plate discipline was not there. He chased at a 33.4% rate in 2022, a significant increase from his sub 28% minor league rate. It’s likely Thomas was anxious in his first big league opportunity and tried to make things happen instead of letting things come to him. As he becomes more comfortable in his surroundings he should settle in as the high-floor, solid plate discipline hitter he has always been.
“Feelin’ Stronger Everyday”
You would not think that someone of Thomas’ stature (5 ’11, 175 lb) would generate much power, and to be fair, his career high for home runs in the Minor Leagues is just 18, but he is so athletic that he generates an incredible amount of rotational torque. His max exit velocity last season in the majors was 111.3 mph and his 90th percentile exit velocity was 104.2 mph, both numbers are very impressive. His minor league ISO’s (over .200 in ‘21 and ‘22) also suggest that there is more game power to come. Thomas will chip-in some stolen bases and with his speed and the new rules being implemented this season, 15 steals are not out of the question. He is currently starting in CF for the Diamondbacks and his speed and solid baseball instincts should allow him to continue to solidify his spot up the middle. It is a good time to buy Alek Thomas in dynasty while the price is relatively low. He has the skillset to be a very solid hitter for years to come and help your teams in multiple categories.
Drey Jameson, Age: 25, Position: SP/RP
Analysis by: Ryan Epperson
“Let Me Ride”
Drey Jameson was selected by the Diamondbacks with the 34th pick in the 2019 amateur draft out of Ball State University. After throwing 11 innings in `19 at Low-A, Jameson obviously missed out on league play for the 2020 season. He quickly climbed the minor league ladder, hitting High-A and Double-A in `21. Last year, he repeated Double-A before the eventual promotion to Triple-A, culminating in a cup of coffee in the Majors at the end of the year where he sported a 1.48 ERA with a 17.3 K-BB%.
Featuring a surprisingly heavy fastball for his thin frame he makes the most of his body with a simplified delivery that utilizes the bottom half well. He pairs the fastball with a devastating gyro slider that had an amazing 46% whiff rate last year on his call-up.
“Forgot About Dre”
Lost in the shuffle with Brandon Pfaadt and Ryne Nelson “will he or won’t he start the year in the rotation” kerfuffle stood Drey Jameson, who seemingly had one foot in the starter camp and the other on the reliever side. With the dust that is Spring Training finally settled Drey Jameson emerged as a long relief option in the bullpen. This may seem like they don’t see Jameson as a long-term starter, something they have mentioned before as a possibility (as well as reported by numerous outlets). But there have been examples of intriguing prospects starting out in the bullpen and blossoming into a great starter and that sometimes circumstance and things outside of a player’s control shapes his future instead of his ability.
“The Next Episode”
Drey can undoubtedly carve out a starting pitching role in the league where he will most likely settle in as a number three or four starter that puts up respectable counting stats and solid rate stats. But I really think that slider and fastball combo can shine in a high-leverage reliever role. If he can go max effort into his fastball and add a little more to it, he could easily be one of the top-10 relievers in the league if they stick with him in the bullpen. With Joe Mantiply on the shelf with a wonky shoulder there’s not much competition for high-leverage work there and I am excited to see if they push him more and more into that role.
Deyvison De Los Santos, Age: 19, Position: 1B/3B, Level: Double-A
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
The right-handed De Los Santos hails from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and signed with the Diamondbacks back in 2019 for $200,000. Though Covid prevented him from making his stateside debut until 2021, De Los Santos wasted little time establishing himself as a prospect to watch, finishing his 2021 season with a .295/.370/.489 slash line with eight homers and 16 doubles in 62 games.
Daylight Come and me wan’ go home
A minor league All-Star in 2022, De Los Santos started his age-19 season at Single-A Visalia, was promoted to High-A Hillsoboro, and spent his last ten regular season games at Double-A Amarillo, before heading to the Arizona Fall League. During the regular minor league season he compiled some great stats across 513 plate appearnces: slashing .306/.348/.499 with 22 homers and 29 doubles. Check out this homer from last season and you can see how effortless he makes it look.
Lift six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch
De Los Santos is not without his bugaboos; namely, size, defense and strikeouts. He started as a third baseman but ended the season playing more first base, but as a right-hander that is not ideal. De Los Santos is already a big dude, listed at 5’11” and 185 pounds, he looks a bit larger than that even. As such, speed is not a part of his game, stealing only eight bases in 188 minor league games. His K rate thus far in his minor league career is 26.7%; a bit high but to to stick at 1B at the big league level it will need to come down. Also a below average career walk rate of 7.6% shows a bit too much swing and miss; though at his age (he doesn’t even turn 20 until June 21st) there is a lot of time to improve.
Come mister tally man, tally me banana
The D’Backs even invited de los Santos to Spring Training this year, which isn’t typical for a 19-year-old who only played ten games above Single-A. He held his own; in 17 plate appearances he slashed .313/.353/.563 with a homer and a steal. There was no chance he would break camp with the big-league squad, but seeing Arizona give him a taste of the future is enough for me to look to add him everywhere I could.
Expect him back at Double-A Amarillo to begin the 2023 season, but it may not be long until he gets to test his power at Triple-A. Only 19% rostered in Fantrax as of this writing, and found on very few top 100 prospect lists, De Los Santos is definitely one to add if he is out there in yours, especially OPS leagues. I would even explore trading a high draft pick or similarly ranked pitching prospect for him.
(Chicago Songs/Dr. Dre Songs/Day-O by Harry Belafonte)