Diamondbacks 2018 Season Review

2018 will go into the archives as the season that the Arizona Diamondbacks turned the corner.  While still finishing in fifth place in the NL West, the D-Backs improved from 53-109 to 75-87 — an improvement from the first overall draft pick to the twelfth pick.  Arizona even briefly rose above .500 in late July.  “We’re headed in the right direction,” said General Manager Schlegel.

Highlights:

All Star SP Scott Clark turned in a Cy Young-worthy season, despite inconsistent support at times from both the offense and the bullpen.  Clark led the NL in ERA (2.37), WHIP (1.01) and quality starts (24) while compiling a 12-11 record with 205 Ks (5th best in MLB-Pro) across 212.1 innings.  “Scott bounced back from an injury-shortened season in 2017 to show strong signs of becoming the ace we always thought he could become,” said Schlegel.

Among the other veterans, LF Rich Dixon (31 HR, 88 RBI) turned in a solid effort in his second full season; 1B Bobby Stone (19 HR, 55 RBI) cut down on his strikeouts while retaining his power stroke; SP Michael Wacha (4.02 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) showed improvement in his second full season as a starter; and holdover infielders Levi Michael (.261/.305/.351), Chris Owings (.243/.298/.400), and Alfredo Zavala (.258/.321/.352) managed to hold their own.

But 2018 was mostly a season where the Diamondbacks turned loose some of their highly-touted minor league prospects.  2015 first round pick RF Arturo Velazquez (.289 ave, 61 steals) was among the league leaders in hits and average through July before hitting a brief slump.  CF Daz Cameron (.254/.305/.434, 14 HR, 46 RBI in 410 major league at-bats) held his own in the middle of the lineup while providing Gold Glove caliber defense in center field, despite being called up too early due to injuries.  SP Bill Hauck (10-9, 3.42 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) threw the league’s only no-hitter this season, in just his 4th major league start, on May 13thSP Andrew Morales (8-10, 4.30 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) was a solid addition to the rotation.  C Matt Hanson (a 27th-round pick in 2013) forced himself into the majors by August, hitting .372 in 113 at-bats.  1B/3B Joey Gallo (10 HR in 332 AB) and SP Zach Rivera (NL Pitcher of the Month for July) also made their debuts, along with two Rule 5 pitchers that largely held their own in the bullpen.  Even with so much talent graduating to the majors, the Diamondbacks retain the #2 overall minor league system rating.  “Our future is very bright,” said GM Schlegel, donning a pair of sunglasses.

 

Looking Forward:

At mid-season the D-Backs (as well as the rest of the NL West) were above .500, but weren’t able to stick there down the stretch.  “We’re pleased with our progress this past season, but there is still plenty of room for us to improve in all aspects of the game,” said GM Schlegel.

Fortunately, more help is on the way.  The organization’s top two prospects SS Jeremy Scott (27 HR across three levels, now at AAA) and 2B Juan Morin (80 steals in 112 games across three levels, despite missing five weeks to injury, now at AA) are both on track for their major league debuts sometime next season.  Various other prospects might get their shot next year (particularly in the bullpen), but top-five prospects OF Cole Brannen and 2018 #1-overall pick 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are both at least a year away according to most scouts.  Overall, organizational depth and development is on the upswing, with both Mobile (AA) and Visalia (A+) winning their league playoffs.  “Maybe we’ll add a Free Sunglasses promotional day next season,” said Schlegel.