The Arizona Diamondbacks were well represented at the Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game Sunday.
From Triple-A Reno, the D-backs sent third baseman Matt Davidson and shortstop Chris Owings, and pitcher Archie Bradley was there from Double-A Mobile.
Davidson, especially, made an impact, hitting a two-run homer and coming away with the game’s MVP award.
His performance likely got D-backs fans wondering when the former 2009 first-round pick will be making his big league debut, but ESPN MLB analyst Keith Law thinks it will happen with another team.
“I don’t think that Matt Davidson dramatically increased his trade value, he did not hurt his trade value,” Law told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Monday. “He may have slightly increased his trade value.”
Law said it would have been tough for a general manager to walk away from that game not impressed with Davidson, and Arizona’s seemingly solidified infield means there really isn’t a place for the 22-year-old.
The same can be said for Owings, who went 0-for-2 but showed off his impressive defensive ability.
“If you saw Owings play any defense [Sunday] you realized he’s a lot like Didi Gregorius, actually,” he said. “He might even be a slightly better hitter, but he’s a very good defender who, like Didi, doesn’t walk at all.”
Owings is hitting .353 with 11 home runs and 65 RBI for the Aces, and while long thought to be one of the team’s better infield prospects, faces the same problem as Davidson.
With Martin Prado at third, Gregorius at short and Aaron Hill at second, there’s really nowhere for these seemingly-ready prospects to play.
Which is why, Law says, their value to the D-backs may come in trade.
“They seem fully committed to the infield they have now, I’m assuming that puts Davidson on the trade block and I think a lot of clubs would look at him and say, ‘That’s a cheap third baseman for us the next three years; he’s got a nice swing, potential to hit for average, maybe 15-20 home runs, nice player. For $450,000 a year, that’s actually a really good player,'” he said. “For Owings, same thing.”
Law believes Owings, 21, could provide a Major League team with great defense and a solid batting average. In fact, he believes the former 2009 first-round pick is actually better than the D-backs’ current shortstop.
“Gregorius hasn’t hit for about two months,” he said. “They just seem to be emotionally committed to Gregorius, whereas they don’t seem to have anywhere near that commitment to Owings, which again, might just put him on the trade block.”
And as far as Law is concerned, the prospects being “blocked” from advancing to the Majors is not a good thing.
Saying no front office would trade a player like Justin Upton for Martin Prado only to admit a better option than Prado is waiting around in the minors, Law believes the D-backs are “stuck with Prado,” for better or worse.
But, he added, the team could still make room for Owings by sending Gregorius to the minors to work on some things.
Gregorius is hitting .275, but has seen his average drop each of the last two months and has posted a .192 mark against left-handed pitchers.
“They could easily change course on Gregorius and Owings and say tomorrow, ‘You know what, Didi’s just overmatched, let’s send him to Triple-A, he probably didn’t have enough Minor League time anyway; he can’t hit a left-hander to save his life. Send him down, let him work on a number of things.'”
That would allow the team to promote Owings, who the analyst believes would offer no dropoff in defensive ability.
Whether or not the D-backs ultimately trade either of the prospects remains to be seen, but in the meantime no one will complain about having plenty of options in the system.