Hazen: Diamondbacks found their Devin Booker in superstar Corbin Carroll

Oct 25, 2023, 2:20 PM

Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks outfielders...

Outfielders Alek Thomas #5 and Corbin Carroll #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB game at Chase Field on August 29, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Phillies 13-7. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen can joke about his own failures on Wednesday.

After the D-backs earned a World Series berth to face the Texas Rangers, he framed it this way: Arizona’s young core players carried him when he failed to find a trade deadline deal and left the team without a fourth starting pitcher heading into the playoffs.

Mistakes or not, his Diamondbacks are still alive. It took a youth movement and multiple reshufflings of the bullpen, the last of which came midway through this regular season.

It also took enough hits on draft picks over the last several years and then player development to take over. All of the work gave Hazen and the Diamondbacks one rookie superstar in Corbin Carroll, but along for the ride is a group of sub-25-year-olds who have all shined in playoff moments through series wins over Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

“That part of it looking forward should, I think, make the community, the fans even more excited when you look down the road,” Hazen told Arizona SportsWolf and Luke on Wednesday. “Look, we have our Devin Booker right? And I’m hoping that we play like the Suns and we can capture this market like the way the Suns have with a young, exciting team that can compete year after year.”

Let’s start with Carroll, who was extended this summer with a team option for the 2031 season  — despite having played just 32 appearances in the majors before this season.

Carroll put together a no-doubt NL Rookie of the Year campaign but hit a postseason wall in the NLCS series against the Phillies.

Through Game 6 of the series, he was 3-for-23 at the plate.

In Game 7, Carroll recorded three hits, scored two runs, stole two bases and added two RBIs. It was a superstar moment for the 23-year-old 2019 first-round pick.

Hazen’s perspective on Carroll’s fast rise goes like so:

“At least from a historical baseball perspective that I have in 20-plus years (in MLB front offices),” he said, “and coming from the Red Sox (where I watched) Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia … There’s been one player, Jonathan Papelbon, that came up to the big leagues, met every expectation and just become the superstar he was going to be right away.

“And the other players I mentioned are superstar players. To hit the ground running the way (Carroll) has is the abnormal part for me … What Corbin Carroll is doing is not normal.”

It’s not just the 23-year-old Carroll. His under-25 teammates have not shied from the spotlight.

Of position players, shortstop Geraldo Perdomo made the All-Star team this year.

Catcher Gabriel Moreno became the default starter to begin the regular season because of Carson Kelly’s injury — Kelly was released mid-year — before shining in the spotlight during different points in this playoff run.

Center fielder Alek Thomas navigated cold spells and playoff benchings to hit a game-tying home run as a pinch-hitter in Game 4 of the Phillies series.

After white-hot Ketel Marte, who has at least a hit in every game of his playoff career, the top D-backs in OPS through 12 playoff games are Thomas (.865), Moreno (.852), Carroll (.851) and Perdomo (.810).

And then there’s pitcher Brandon Pfaadt, who needed multiple demotions only to shine when called upon in the playoffs.

“Alek and Brandon Pfaadt were the two most-mentioned players from opposing clubs at the deadline,” Hazen said. “Yeah, we chose to hang onto them for these reasons. We believed in their upside and their talent.”

And that along with Carroll, Hazen pointed out, puts the Diamondbacks in a pretty damn enviable spot in the years ahead.

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