PHOENIX – Let’s face it: The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a rough decade, especially in recent years. The team has one postseason appearance in 10 years, and that ended with a decisive defeat to the eventual league champion Dodgers. The last time they won a playoff series was in 2007, before they were swept by Colorado in the NLCS.
That said, hope may be on the horizon.
The Diamondbacks organization has one of the best groups of players making their way to the big leagues and is ranked as the fifth-best farm system in the majors. In fact, Arizona ranked top 10 in farm systems in each of the last five polls, including during the preseason and midseason.
The Diamondbacks need to meet many goals, and the biggest among them has to be ending their current postseason drought. High hopes began to build to start the 2022 season, as Alek Thomas made his major league debut back in early May.
“You don’t know how good you are until, you know, you play here,” Thomas said.
The rookie outfielder has gotten off to a very solid start, shocking fans with his spectacular defense and showing off his aggressive bat. A Chicago product out of Mount Carmel High School, Thomas is one of many young Diamondbacks who played ball at a top baseball high school in the country. He committed to Texas Christian to play baseball and football before choosing to go straight to pro ball and swiftly earned his way into the majors.
Another piece of this potentially great outfield core is Jake McCarthy. He debuted late last season, putting up average rookie numbers, and has quietly improved his batting average from .220 to .283 at the end of his first full season this year. Taking more at-bats this year, McCarthy has taken full advantage of the opportunity to become a solid big leaguer. He touched on his burst of success late in the season.
“A little more experience, a little more at-bats under my belt – I wouldn’t say there’s a glaring change in my game, just understanding that I’m capable of playing at this level,” McCarthy said.
There is plenty of excitement about the current young Diamondbacks big leaguers, but perhaps the most exciting player for the organization and the fans is outfield phenom Druw Jones. Jones was just recently selected second overall in the 2022 MLB June Amateur Draft and is ranked 12th overall on MLB’s 2022 top prospect list.
He is expected to have a smooth and speedy experience through the minors before joining the bigs, and following in his footsteps of his father (Andruw Jones), who won 10 Gold Gloves and earned five All-Star appearances during his 17-year career.
In high school, Druw led Wesleyan School to a Georgia state title while taking home the Georgia Player of the Year award. He committed to Vanderbilt as a sophomore, but he blossomed quickly in the next two seasons and earned an $8,189,400 signing bonus. The third-highest bonus in MLB Draft history, the decision was easy.
The Diamondbacks see Jones as a great combination of power and speed with his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame. They see him as the final puzzle piece to complete this young and highly skilled outfield core.
The outfield seems to be covered from a scouting standpoint, but reinforcements are needed for the rest of the field and the pitching staff. It’s difficult – and that’s putting it lightly – to have a playoff caliber ball club without good pitching. So while the new guys gain experience in their first few seasons, it’s an ideal time to let them develop and acquire better pitching.
The Diamondbacks ended the season with the eighth-worst team ERA in the majors – an improvement from ending the 2021 season with the second-worst mark. If it wasn’t for Zac Gallen’s excellent 2.54 ERA, they would certainly be closer to the bottom of that list.
So, how long will it take for the Diamondbacks to get back to the postseason?
Well, it’s definitely a bit more realistic with the new 12-team playoff format, but the organization will have to make some serious moves and acquisitions to end the drought.
And behind a plethora of young talent, big things could be on the horizon.