Five of the D-backs’ Cactus League standouts

Mar 27, 2023, 7:49 AM | Updated: 9:34 am

Arizona Diamondbacks Corbin Carroll...

Corbin Carroll #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits the ball during the first inning of the Spring Training game against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 12, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks wrapped up Cactus League play Sunday with a 4-4 tie against the Milwaukee Brewers and will play two exhibition games against the Cleveland Guardians at Chase Field to wrap the preseason schedule on Monday and Tuesday.

The D-backs saw encouraging performances from young contributors and offseason acquisitions alike in 28 games so far this spring.

Here are five of Arizona’s brightest standouts of the Cactus League.

OF Corbin Carroll

Carroll had an eventful first big-league camp, leading the team in hits and signing an eight-year contract extension with a club option for Year 9.

On the field, Carroll showed what the D-backs envision from him come the regular season. He got on base at a .500 clip, stole five bags without getting caught and took the extra base whenever possible.

The 22-year-old had three triples in only 16 games. No D-backs player had more than three triples all of last season.

Carroll also played all three outfield positions in games this spring.

Arizona is counting on Carroll being a staple of the organization for the foreseeable future after his 32-game stint in the bigs last season. His makeup is a primary reason.

“He’s got so many exciting skills, I think fans are gonna really enjoy watching him if they haven’t already, which I know they probably all have,” general manager Mike Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke this spring. “He’s a very dynamic player. And when you get dynamic players with his kind of makeup, with his kind of work ethic and his kind of preparation, you tend to want to make those bets in my line of work.”

C Gabriel Moreno

The D-backs traded one of their top hitters and defenders from 2022 in Daulton Varsho to add Moreno from the Toronto Blue Jays, and the catcher made quite the first impression.

The 23-year-old backstop raked in 10 games, slashing .370/.452/.741 while showing the ability to hit to all fields. His most recent of three home runs went the opposite way against the Dodgers at Salt River Fields. He also homered in his D-backs debut.

Manager Torey Lovullo complimented Moreno’s defense while noting there is some growth left with blocking.

Moreno will have a major role early, as veteran catcher Carson Kelly will start the year on the injured list with a broken forearm.

“He might not know the pitchers as well as some others. But it’s been a crash course for him this spring. (Bench coach) Jeff Banister has been working his butt off to get him getting up to speed,” Lovullo told reporters last week. “Seems like he’s got a very high baseball IQ, and that’s always a good starting point with a catcher.”

RHP Miguel Castro

The D-backs looked for bullpen reinforcements during the offseason after leaving games on the table in 2022, and Castro fit the bill as a power arm with wicked stuff.

Castro, entering his ninth MLB season, has done what has been asked this spring with seven scoreless frames across seven outings.

He faced 24 batters and allowed two hits and one walk while punching out seven hitters.

Castro pairs an upper 90s mph power sinker and a slider that had some of the most horizontal break in MLB last year.

The closer role will be “fluid” to start the season, Lovullo has said many times this spring, with Castro in the mix.

OF Kyle Lewis

Another offseason acquisition, Lewis worked his way into the lineup this spring while building up leg strength after injury-impacted 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The 2020 American League Rookie of the Year did not take long to get hot, hitting his first of three Cactus League home runs in his second game.

Lewis finished the spring producing a .429/.529 /857 slash line in 11 games with six extra-base hits and 11 RBIs.

He competed for one of the final roster spots and survived the cutdown to 13 healthy position players in camp on Sunday.

RHP Brandon Pfaadt

The D-backs’ top pitching prospect started spring in big league camp as a non-roster invitee after reaching Triple-A Reno last year.

He tossed a pair of scoreless innings in his debut against the Chicago Cubs with two punchouts.

The 6-foot-4 right struck out four batters over three scoreless frames in his second outing against the San Diego Padres with Ks on three different pitches.

On March 16, Pfaadt fanned seven batters in four innings of relief in which he allowed one run, a solo shot to Cubs OF Cody Bellinger.

He finished the spring with a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings with 15 strikeouts.

Pfaadt was re-assigned to minor league camp, but if the stuff he showcased in 2022 and this spring are any indicators, he looks like an option for the Arizona arsenal sooner rather than later.

 Honorable mentions

– OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: .943 OPS, 4 doubles

– INF Buddy Kennedy: 1.131 OPS, 4 extra-base hits

– C P.J. Higgins: 1.001 OPS, 3 home runs

– INF Ketel Marte: 3 extra-base hits, improved defense

– RHP Scott McGough: 2.16 ERA, 9 strikeouts in 8.1 innings

– RHP Peter Solomon: 2.2 scoreless frames in final outing,  1.35 ERA in 6.2 innings

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