Thomas, pitching prospects make huge leap

The D-backs had an unfortunate run of bad luck in 2021 when it came to the health of their two top prospects per MLB Pipeline rankings without outfielder Corbin Carroll injuring his right shoulder while hitting a home run in the first week of the Minor League season and shortstop Jordan Lawlar injuring his left shoulder while diving for a ball.

That shouldn’t obscure the overall positive year in player development that the D-backs had, particularly on the pitching side of things.

“We probably had the best development pitching year in the Minor Leagues since I’ve been here,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. “We have a large group of pitchers that fit that profile, most of whom we see as future starting pitchers.”

Here’s a look at some of this year’s Minor League happenings:

3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year

1. Alek Thomas: OK, so Thomas was always on the radar, but whatever timetable you may have had for him, it seems safe to say he’s sped it up. The outfielder started the year at Double-A Amarillo where he put up very good numbers hitting .283/.374/.507 over 72 games. Promoted to Triple-A Reno on Aug. 16, the 21-year-old absolutely raked with a .369/.434/.658 slash line in 34 games.

While it’s safe to say that Reno inflates some offensive numbers, it was still an impressive stretch as Thomas homered eight times in 166 plate appearances.

2.…

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