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Five Diamondbacks players to build around after stepping forward in 2022

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The Arizona Diamondbacks will not make the playoffs this season after being eliminated from the fray on Thursday night. They won’t end up with a winning record either. Factor in the combination of a recent five-game losing streak and a remaining schedule with more games against playoff candidates, including the Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers, and they must not achieve a moral victory by posting a winning second half. But for all the focus on what the Diamondbacks won’t or won’t have, this season has instilled in their fanbase something that has been absent in recent years: optimism about tomorrow.

It would be unfair to write that the future core of the Diamondbacks was featured this season. Two of the top three players for Arizona’s long-term outlook, shortstop Jordan Lawlar and outfielder Push Jones, have combined for 102 professional games. (Jones hurt his shoulder after signing.) Outfielder Corbin Carrollthe third member of the trio, managed to reach the majors this season, joining a handful of other players who could very well be part of the D-Backs’ next playoff team, such as outfielders Daulton Varsho and Alek Thomasshort stop Geraldo Perdomoand starting pitcher Drey Jameson. (Not to mention outfielder Jake McCarthya quick ex-first round roster who had a great run at the plate this summer.)

Rather than repeating the season that was before the Diamondbacks, let’s put their year to bed discussing those five players and what they brought to the table. (Note that the players are listed below in alphabetical order.)

Most talent evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports over the summer identified Carroll as the top remaining candidate in the minor leagues because of the breadth and depth of his skills. He can hit (as evidenced by his .288/.356/.545 (152 OPS+) slash over the course of his first 21 league games), run and field. The biggest question marks he faces are his durability (he has a small frame and he has dealt with injuries in the past) and his contact speed. He’s swinging and missing a competition average clip so far, and it’s worth checking if and how that fluctuates as he gets reps. After all, Carroll’s next game will only be his 162nd as a professional, suggesting he still has plenty of time to learn new things.

Jameson is a relatively recent addition to the D-Backs roster, which debuted on September 15. He is a small right-hander with a big arm. His fastball has hit 99 mph and has an above average induced vertical pause. Its slider, its highest secondary pitch, has pinched almost half of the swings taken against it thus far, albeit in a small sample size. Jameson has kept his walks in check throughout his pro career, meaning the biggest concern for him is how his short stride (he generates less than six feet of extension) will ensure his stuff is played against the big-league bats. The Diamondbacks owe it to themselves to let him start as long as possible.

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Perdomo is a skilled defender with a penchant for making diving moves. Unfortunately, his offensive results leave a lot to be desired. The old rule of thumb is if you can’t hit the fastball, you won’t make it to the majors. Perdomo hasn’t hit the fastball this season, as both his batting average and his exit speed against that particular throw are near the bottom of the majors. He has some things that work in his favor: he’s a switch-hitter who watches the zone and makes a lot of contact, but he hasn’t shown that he can influence the baseball and each of his swings has a hitch. Perdomo will celebrate his 23rd birthday in October. His defense and his youth should keep him in the majors for a while longer.

Thomas has not fared well in the majors since he received his PhD in May. In his first 110 games, he hit .235/.279/.349 (78 OPS+) while looking extremely helpless against left-handers. To his credit, he’s still an asset defensively, and his greater offensive track record suggests he’s coming to the plate in due course. Thomas doesn’t celebrate his 23rd birthday until after the next opening day, suggesting that the Diamondbacks owe it to him and themselves to remain patient as he learns the tricks of the trade.

Varsho is one of the most versatile players in the majors. He is a high quality defensive outfielder (the best in the majors in 2022 according to Statcast) who has also appeared 31 times behind the record this year. The last person to see at least 20 midfield and catcher games in one season was Eli Marrero in 2002. Varsho is also good at more than just his positional new tricks. He has already homered 26 times, in part due to a greater emphasis on pulling the ball, and his running speed is in line with that of Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts. Couple his defensive value with his league average or better stick, and he’s a future All-Star.

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