Roundtable picks: One Diamondbacks young player to watch in 2024

Mar 28, 2024, 11:31 AM

A World Series run changes things, no doubt. The Arizona Diamondbacks have amped expectations in 2024, with most of the relatively young roster returning and additions made in several key spots to improve the lineup and build depth.

But after Corbin Carroll met all the expectations of his massive contract a year ago, fellow youngsters followed him in making significant improvements, especially in the playoff runs.

Which one of those players should continue an upward trend in 2024?

Here’s how hosts and editors for us at Arizona Sports are keeping tabs on as the regular season begins Thursday against the Colorado Rockies.

Which young Diamondbacks player do you expect to make the biggest or most surprising leap?

Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: Corbin Carroll’s going to find a way to improve and that’s alarming because nobody really even knows what that looks like after the blistering rookie campaign he just turned in. And Alek Thomas and Brandon Pfaadt are poised to break out after the jolt they just got from that incredible postseason run. There are a lot of legitimate options here, but I’m going with Gabriel Moreno. He’s already one of the truly elite defensive catchers in baseball and now I think his numbers at the plate are really going to take off, too.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: Corbin Carroll’s rookie season was so amazing, it’ll be hard to top. Gabi Moreno has already shown his ability, both defensively and with the bat, that he’s among the top catchers in the National League — in fact, I think an All-Star appearance is coming in July. So I’ll go with Brandon Pfaadt. The right-hander looked downright scared to death at times during his rookie season, but then stepped up big time in the playoffs. He’s not going to be saddled with the pressure of being a top-three starter with the collection of arms Arizona has, so that, coupled with familiarity, could be enough to allow Pfaadt to make a big leap in 2024.

Ron Wolfley, co-host of Wolf & Luke: Alek Thomas. Although his glove in center field was as good as it gets, Thomas’ biggest improvement should come at the plate. As a prospect, Thomas had one of the more dynamic swings on the farm and his athleticism at the plate was a plus. Now, he needs to put it all together and tap into the confidence he acquired in last year’s postseason.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Here’s looking at you Alek Thomas. Of all the young players who captured imaginations last fall, Thomas is the one who captured mine. Last year vs. lefties he hit .143/.175/.260 but got his chances during the postseason and held his own. Gabriel Moreno and Brandon Pfaadt are the easy answers and maybe the right ones, but I got a hunch Alek Thomas is taking a big step forward this season.

Alex Weiner, Arizona Sports’ D-backs reporter: I’m looking at Alek Thomas to make a big leap. The former top prospect has been a defensive stalwart in center field, but the bat has been inconsistent throughout his first two big league seasons. His lower half looked a lot quieter in spring training, allowing him to stay closed and drive more baseballs. He has a quick swing, power to all fields and tremendous speed, so the tools are there for him to develop as more of an offensive weapon. He’s still only 23 years old. Perhaps that breakout came during the postseason when he belted four home runs, including a game-tying shot in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Phillies that D-backs fans won’t soon forget.

Kevin Zimmerman, lead editor: I’m going to guess most everyone else will choose Gabriel Moreno, whose advanced analytics behind the plate popped out across the board. The offensive impact he had in the postseason firmly put him on the map.

But I want to spotlight the playoff run by Geraldo Perdomo — and yeah, I know it’s crazy to pick a 2023 All-Star here. Perdomo sneakily bumped his slash line from .246/.353/.712 in the regular season to .275/.362/.392 in 17 playoff games. The top of the lineup is going to be juiced and collectively helping each other if Moreno or Joc Pederson boost things, but getting more out of Perdomo at the bottom of the order as the card flips could be as important.

Tyler Drake, editor: Maybe not the biggest surprise after what we saw in the playoffs, but I think Brandon Pfaadt is in store for more consistency in 2024. He brewed up a ton of confidence last postseason and that should carry over to this year on top of having premium veteran arms to bounce things off of. If he can maintain that same type of production we witnessed in the postseason, the D-backs very well could have one of the best rotations in all of baseball.

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Roundtable picks: One Diamondbacks young player to watch in 2024