Arizona Diamondbacks 2015 Preview

28
Mar

2014 Record – 64-98, 5th in NL West

Key Additions

3B Yasmany Tomas, SP Jeremy Hellickson

Key Departures

SP Wade Miley, C Miguel Montero, SS Didi Gregorious

Projected 2015 Lineup

  1. CF AJ Pollock
  2. LF David Peralta
  3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
  4. RF Mark Trumbo
  5. 3B (?) Yasmany Tomas
  6. SS Chris Owings
  7. 2B Aaron Hill
  8. C Tuffy Gosewisch
  9. Pitcher

Projected 2015 Starters

  1. RHP Josh Collmenter
  2. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
  3. RHP Chase Anderson
  4. RHP Rubby De La Rosa
  5. RHP Allen Webster/RHP Trevor Cahill

Breakdown

After finishing 81-81 in 2012 and 2013, the Diamondbacks took a large step back in 2014. They finished dead last in the NL West at 64-98 and there weren’t many positive to take out of the season. They finished 18th in batting average, 25th in runs scored, and 26th in team ERA. Nothing to brag about. They battled many injuries, which definitely didn’t help their cause. This year, they should have a healthy Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo, and hopefully a healthy Patrick Corbin sometime this summer.

Goldschmidt and Trumbo are absolutely vital to the D-Backs’ lineup. They will hit 3rd and 4th, respectively, and have the potential to be 30+ HR, 100+ RBI. Goldschmidt is almost a lock for those numbers if he is healthy. Trumbo, in his two seasons prior to 2014, hit 32 and 34 HR. He is almost a lock, but we shall see.

After those two in the lineup, there are many question marks. It will be very interesting to see how Yasmany Tomas transitions to the Major League level, as he has some serious upside if everything works out for him. If he clicks right away, Arizona could have a very potent lineup.

Pitching is still a question mark for this team. They did acquire Jeremy Hellickson this offseason, but parted ways with Wade Miley. Like I mentioned earlier, Corbin won’t see the field until June at the earliest. Their staff and bullpen are definitely the weak links on this ball club.

X-Factor – Yasmany Tomas

This past winter, the Diamondbacks made a splash by signing Cuban-defect Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million deal. It was the biggest deal in club history. Tomas, who Arizona wants to play 3rd, can either play the hot corner or will be in the outfield.

Tomas was a good hitter in Cuba. He played for the Havana Industriales for five seasons, where he hit 30 HR and had 104 RBI in 205 games. While it may seem odd he only had these numbers in five seasons, the league in which he played in (Serie Nacional) only have 90-game seasons. On top of that, Tomas never played more than 69 games in any given season and he did not play in the 2010-11 season.1

He is known to have exceptional power and have the potential to be a 30+ HR guy. He is also known to have a strong arm. On the other hand, it is said he has average to below-average speed, a potentially high strikeout rate, and that he has some pretty poor defense. Keith Law recently stated that there is “no chance” he remains at 3rd base. Not a promising sign.

What the D-Backs really want out of him is his bat. If he could even come close to 30 HR, that would be enormous. Now, I’m not banking on this for the upcoming season, but it will be something to keep an eye on. It sounds like he is a high-risk, high-reward type player. Arizona is hoping this kid is the real deal.

Most To Prove – Jeremy Hellickson

Back in 2011, Jeremy Hellickson came onto the scene in Tampa Bay and won the Rookie of the Year. He was drafted by the Rays in the 4th round and coming into 2011, was ranked one of the Top 10 prospects in baseball. During that 2011 campaign, Hellickson went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 189 IP. Very strong numbers. There was one very discouraging number, and that was his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). For those who know, this number is often much more telling than ERA, as it takes into account a pitcher’s overall effectiveness. That number was 4.44, much higher than his 2.95 ERA.

In 2012, Hellickson had another good season. While he only went 10-11, he had a 3.10 ERA in 189 innings. His K’s per 9 also improved. He won a Gold Glove! His FIP though? 4.60. Even worse than the year prior. It was only a matter of time before he regressed.

In comes 2013 where the right-hander went on to go 12-10 with a brutal 5.17 ERA in 174 innings. His FIP remained high at 4.22 and his WHIP stood at 1.351. Last season, he missed time due to an elbow injury and went onto have a 4.52 ERA in 63.2 IP.

This is a huge season for Hellickson. Can he return to his ROY numbers and become a strong presence in the D-Backs rotation? Or will he end up struggling like the previous two seasons?

2015 Impact Prospect – Archie Bradley

Archie Bradley was the Diamondbacks’ 1st round pick (7th overall) back in 2011. At 6’4″ and 235 pounds, he definitely looked the part. He was drafted right out of high school and was pegged to have “ace-potential” due to a wicked fastball and a plus knuckle-curve.

In his first full season in the minors (2012), he went 12-6 with a 3.84 ERA and had 152 K’s in 136 IP. Very strong numbers. But he did have 84 walks, and the knock on him out of high school was his command. That all changed in 2013, where he went 14-5 between Single-A and Double-A, with a minuscule 1.84 ERA and had 162 K’s in 152 IP. This time, only 69 walks.

The numbers he put up in those two seasons plus his high-end potential led him to be one of the top prospects in baseball coming into 2014. Unfortunately, he dealt with an elbow injury early in the year and once he came back, couldn’t find the strike zone. He went 3-7 in 18 starts with a 4.45 ERA and had 49 walks in 83 IP.

It certainly isn’t the end for Bradley though. He is healthy this season and has been very impressive in spring training so far. While his velocity has dipped a bit, he has more command and is much more comfortable on the mound. Due to the lack of pitching depth in Arizona, Bradley might have a chance to prove himself in the rotation sometime this year.

Why They’re Worth Watching

With Goldschmidt, Trumbo, and Tomas in the middle of the order, the D-Backs offense could definitely provide some fireworks this summer. All three of them have some serious pop and could help Arizona score a ton of runs. AJ Pollack could also be another player to watch. He had a very solid first year in the pros in 2013 and if it weren’t for a broken wrist last season, he could’ve continued to build on his early success. The D-Backs could be very fun to watch offensively.

Best Case

The offense should put up their fair share of runs this season, so a lot of the team’s success will come down to their pitching staff. Hellickson is someone you’ll want to keep your eyes on because if he can bounce back, he could be a solid starter in the National League. Depending on how Collmenter and Anderson do, the D-Backs might be able to make some noise. It will also be interesting to see if Archie Bradley makes his arrival sooner rather than later. He could be a difference-maker. 81-81

Worst Case

I really do the see the D-Backs putting up a ton of runs this season, but their pitching staff is almost as scary (bad) as Colorado’s. There isn’t too much to be excited for in that rotation unless all of them make some major strides. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. They may be able to score a lot, but I don’t see them slowing down anyone else’s offense either. I do think they will be much improved from last season, but the playoffs are still probably a bit out of reach, especially in the NL West. 72-90

Projected Record – 76-86


  1. Tomas, D-Backs Finalize 6-Year Contract via MLB.com 

About the author: Jack Conness

Graduate of UW-Milwaukee. Baseball nerd. Follow him on Twitter! @JackConness