Baby Snakes: A look at notable D-backs rookie campaigns
You never get a second chance at a first impression.
Young talent has never evaded the Arizona Diamondbacks, as several players have put up notable performances in their first major league seasons.
One such player is Cuban signee Yasmany Tomas, who currently is second on the team (and among rookies) in batting average this season.
Tomas is also fourth in RBI and sixth on on-base percentage among rookies this season.
Here are some of the most notable rookie seasons in D-Backs history:
1998 – Travis Lee
Position: First base
Rookie stats: .269 batting average, .346 on-base percentage, 22 home runs and 72 RBI in 146 games; finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting
Travis Lee picked up the first hit and first home run in franchise history on Opening Day in 1998. Lee was one of the bright spots in the franchise’s rookie season, hitting 22 home runs, tying him with Devon White for the team lead.
1999 – Erubiel Durazo
Position: First base
Rookie stats: .329 batting average, .422 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 52 games
Durazo was a key player for the Diamondbacks from 1999-2002, starting with his rookie season. He hit 11 home runs as the team won a franchise-record 100 games.
2004 – Scott Hairston
Position: Second base
Rookie stats: .248 batting average, .293 on-base percentage, 13 home runs and 29 RBI in 101 games
The 2004 D-backs relied on many young players, with Hairston being one who really stood out.
2004 – Chad Tracy
Position: Third base/first base
Rookie stats: .285 batting average, .343 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 53 RBI in 143 games
Tracy was another “Baby Back” in 2004, earning the starting third base job as a rookie and becoming a staple in the D-backs’ lineup, as a starter or off the bench, until 2009.
2006 – Conor Jackson
Position: First base
Rookie stats: .291 batting average, .368 on-base percentage, 15 home runs and 79 RBI in 140 games
Jackson played in 40 games in 2005, but didn’t officially begin his rookie season until 2006. He immediately seized the starting first base job, and eventually became a critical figure in Arizona’s run to the NLCS the following year. Jackson’s 15 home runs were tied for third on the team in his rookie season.
2006 – Stephen Drew
Rookie stats: .316 batting average, .357 on-base percentage, five home runs and 23 RBI in 59 games
The former first-round pick Drew succeeded longtime D-back Craig Counsell in 2006, eventually hitting .266 with 72 home runs and 333 RBI in seven seasons for the D-backs.
2007 – Chris Young
Position: Center field
Rookie stats: .237 batting average, .295 on-base percentage, 32 home runs, 68 RBI and 27 stolen bases in 148 games
Young initially broke through in 2006, but played his rookie season in 2007, where he showed power, speed and fielding prowess. He later became a central figure on Arizona’s 2007 and 2011 playoff teams and earned an All-Star appearance in 2010.
2007 – Mark Reynolds
Position: Third base
Rookie stats: .279 batting average, .349 on-base percentage, 17 home runs and 62 RBI in 111 games
Reynolds is one of the most prolific power hitters in team history, and showed it off with 17 home runs (third-best on the team) in 2007. Reynolds, Young, Drew and Justin Upton helped lead Arizona to a playoff berth that season.
2007 – Justin Upton
Position: Right fielder
Rookie stats: .221 batting average, .283 on-base percentage, two home runs and 11 RBI in 43 games
Upton was much-hyped when he became a late-season call-up for the playoff team in 2007, as the former No. 1 overall pick was expected to be a franchise cornerstone. Upton flashed immaturity as a 19-year-old in the playoffs, but later emerged as a two-time All-Star in the desert.
2007 – Miguel Montero
Rookie stats: .224 batting average, .292 on-base percentage, 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 84 games
Montero made his debut in 2006, but his rookie campaign came in 2007. He emerged from a backup role after then-starter Chris Snyder went down with an injury in 2008. He went on to make All-Star appearances in 2011 and 2014.
2009 – Gerardo Parra
Rookie stats: .290 batting average, .324 on-base percentage, five home runs and 60 RBI in 120 games; eighth in National League Rookie of the Year voting
Parra homered in his very first major league at-bat and rode that momentum to a stellar rookie season. He flashed potential to be a top-of-the-order guy, and had one of the strongest arms in the majors. He became an impact player for the D-backs team that made the playoffs in 2011.
2011 – Paul Goldschmidt
Position: First baseman
Rookie stats: .250 batting average, .333 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 26 RBI in 48 games
Goldschmidt, like Upton, was called up specifically to help the D-backs in their playoff run. Unlike Upton, Goldschmidt made his biggest impact in the postseason. His grand slam in the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers helped turn the series, though Arizona would be eliminated in five games.
2015 – Nick Ahmed
Rookie stats: .241 batting average, .305 on-base percentage, six home runs and 22 RBI entering All-Star break (79 games)
Ahmed was acquired in the trade that sent Upton to the Atlanta Braves, and has been solid in his freshman campaign for the Diamondbacks in 2015. He has been excellent in the field, and has been surprising at times with his power.
2015 – Yasmany Tomas
Position: Third base/outfield
Rookie stats: .313 batting average, .351 on-base percentage, five home runs and 35 RBI entering All-Star break (70 games)
Tomas came in with high expectations after signing a six-year, $68.5 million international free agent contract with the Diamondbacks this past offseason. He began the season in the minor leagues but got the call to the majors early on and has not looked back, playing both third base and right field.