D-backs give inside look of prospects at club’s alternate training site
The 2020 Minor League Baseball season may have been canceled, but that doesn’t mean one of the sport’s best farm systems took a break.
The Arizona Diamondbacks in a YouTube video on Friday gave fans a look at the team’s alternate site at Salt River Fields, where prospects have been developing their skills for next season or waiting for the call to join the big league club 20 miles west at Chase Field.
Prospects Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Dominic Fletcher and Pavin Smith spoke in the video, along with minor league outfielder coordinator and former major leaguer Johnny Gomes and director of player development Josh Barfield.
As documented in the video, the alternate site was basically an extended spring training with players doing drills in the field and working on their swing in the cage. The players also competed against each other in various scrimmages.
“This process has been nothing less than extremely unique,” Gomes said in the video. “We’re just flying by the seat of our pants, being creative as we can to create this depth for the big league ballclub.”
Smith used the opportunity to improve his skills in ways he couldn’t in a typical season.
“Being able to get four at-bats every day where the stats don’t matter … they’re not getting put on a stat sheet so you can kind of mess around with some stuff and try to figure out what’s really going to work best for you,” Smith said.
He decided to bring some techniques he learned from watching Major League hitters to the alternate site at Salt River Fields.
“I started putting my foot down a little early instead of having a leg kick,” Smith said. “I don’t think I would have risked trying to change a bunch of things if I was in Triple-A.”
Smith’s change worked as he was later called up to the big leagues on Sept. 9, a moment that was documented in the video.
“I called my fiance and my parents, and they’re on the east coast so it was like 2 a.m. over there so I had to call a few times for them to pick up but they picked up and it was pretty cool to have that moment to last forever,” Smith said.
He’s hitting .294 with one home run and four RBIs in his first ten games at the Major League level.
Smith isn’t the only prospect to make the jump from the alternate site to the big league club, as infielder Andy Young, catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho, infielder Wyatt Mathisen and pitchers Riley Smith, Taylor Widener and Jeremy Beasley also made their debuts in 2020.