Arizona Diamondbacks Getting Ready for Spring Training

Diamondbacks Spring Training

The Arizona Diamondbacks are getting ready for 2021 Spring Training and with the news from MLB that it will begin on time with no delays, pitchers and catchers will begin reporting in about a month. As we know, the 2020 season was disappointing for this team—and its fans. They opened their wallets by adding Madison Bumgarner and Kole Calhoun and giving contract extensions to Nick Ahmed and David Peralta. They entered the year with playoff goals in mind. However, the team ended up getting off to a slow start. They never really recovered in the abbreviated season and stumbled to the National League’s second-worst record.

For the 2021 season most of the everyday players are returning from last year. However, if the team is to improve from their last-place finish in the NL West, the players will all need to have a bounce-back seasons.

Open Competition in Diamondbacks Spring Training

Though some starting positions are set, there will be some open competitions. Players will compete to start at second base, back up first base, and middle infield (bench) spots. The team also looks to add another possible outfielder as well.

As for pitching decisions, the Diamondbacks need a number five starter and at least four bullpen arms.

First Base Backup

A first base backup job behind Christian Walker is open after Kevin Cron decided to play in Japan. Current frontrunners are Pavin Smith and Seth Beer.

Smith saw some action last year with the Diamondbacks and looks to make the team for the full season. In the minors, he was a patient hitter with good bat-to-ball skills. He has lost weight and gained quickness. What remains to be seen is if he has added any power to his bat.

Seth Beer has power from the left side and that projects well at the major league level. That is something this team needs. The main concern, however, is his defensive skills. He struggled in the outfield in college and in the minors. Although he played some first base, he still needs a lot of work there. The drawback for him might be if the NL decides not to have the DH for 2021, he will most likely be at AAA Reno.

Second Base Starter

Josh Rojas could work his way into the everyday lineup at second base if they decide Ketel Marte will be the everyday centerfielder. Rojas impressed the team with his defensive ability and versatility in the infield last year. He could see plenty of games there again this year.

Rojas will see competition from Andy Young, Josh VanMeter, and even Wyatt Mathisen.

The team could also look at a platoon system since all of these players can play second and third as well as the outfield corners. We know manager Torey Lovullo likes the versatility of his bench, so we will see how this works out during camp.

Backups for Short and Third

Backups for Nick Ahmed and Eduardo Escobar will be looked at as well. Chances are the player who does not win the second base starting job among those mentioned above will compete for a utility spot at third base and shortstop. Of those players, however, Andy Young is the only one who has played multiple games at shortstop. Although it was in the minors, it could give him an edge.

Outfield and Catcher

The outfield positions, too, will have some players competing for spots. If Marte starts the season at second base, look for Daulton Varsho to get a long look at in camp for the centerfield position. Varsho, who is considered an NL 2021 Rookie of the Year candidate, is a catcher by trade but played 14 games in centerfield last year. He has unusually good speed, an above-average arm, and athleticism, allowing for a smooth transition to the outfield.

Calhoun and Peralta return as the corner outfielders with Tim Locastro as the fourth outfielder. The only other player on the roster listed to play the outfield is Stuart Fairchild, whom they acquired from the Cincinnati Reds.

The catcher position appears set for 2021. Carson Kelly, Stephen Vogt, and even Varsho, the same players from last season, are returning.

Starting Pitching Competitions

The starting staff appears to be set with at least four starters. Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Luke Weaver, are set to go. The final spot comes down to Taylor Clarke, Jon Duplantier, Caleb Smith, and Alex Young.

One other pitcher the team could look at as a possible starter is Corbin Martin. Martin is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization’s No. 6 prospect.

Familiar Names in the Bullpen

The 2021 Diamondbacks bullpen will once again have new players, a common theme with Lovullo. Stefan Crichton, Kevin Ginkel, Yoan López, and Taylor Widener are the main holdovers. They have signed only a few relievers to their active roster, so we will see if more players get signed as we get close to camp.

Both Ginkel and López might need good camps to secure opening roster spots after struggling last season.

The players mentioned earlier who do not win a starting spot could move to the bullpen. Riley Smith is another pitcher to get a long look. He made his debut last August. In six games (18 1/3 innings), Smith had 1.47 ERA. They also signed right-handed reliever Chris Devenski.

Only Three Lefty Relievers

The Diamondbacks only have three left-handed relievers. Travis Bergen was acquired in the Robbie Ray deal last year and pitched in seven games last year. They claimed Taylor Guilbeau off waivers from the Seattle Mariners in October and added Ryan Buchter, who agreed to a deal this past week.

Closer Competition

Look for Lovullo to have some competition for the closer’s role. Crichton pitched well and even moved into the closer’s role for the end of the season. He appears to be the frontrunner, but any of the pitchers in the bullpen could be considered or a late signee could come in and compete.

Alex Young is the other lefty and could be slotted in the bullpen if he does not make it as a starter.

A Concern for Diamondbacks Spring Training

A concern for Spring Training was the sluggish offense they encountered last season. This team suffered through a 2-18 stretch at one-point last season. The lack of run production and power were the main concerns. They finished 29th out of the 30 teams in homeruns and 18th in runs scored. Look for them to work on hitting and scoring runs.

For 2021 to be a success, comeback years from the “core of the team”— Calhoun Escobar, Kelly, Peralta, and Walker, —will be certainly needed in order for them to compete. Look for all of them to come to spring training ready to go and put last season behind them.

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Players mentioned: Madison Bumgarner, Kole Calhoun, Nick Ahmed, David Peralta, Christian Walker, Kevin Cron, Pavin Smith, Seth Beer, Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, Andy Young, Josh VanMeter, Wyatt Mathisen, Torey Lovullo, Nick Ahmed, Eduardo Escobar, Daulton Varsho, Tim Locastro, Stuart Fairchild, Carson Kelly, Stephen Vogt, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, Taylor Clarke, Jon Duplantier, Caleb Smith, Alex Young, Corbin Martin, Stefan Crichton, Kevin Ginkel, Yoan López, Taylor Widener, Riley Smith, Chris Devenski, Travis Bergen, Robbie Ray, Taylor Guilbeau, Ryan Buchter