Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Diamondbacks promote outfielder Alek Thomas, a top-20 MLB prospect

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have promoted outfielder Alek Thomas to the majors, the team announced Sunday. Thomas will make his MLB debut in the D-Backs’ series finale against the Rockies on Sunday, hitting eighth and playing center field.

Thomas, who recently celebrated his 22nd birthday, had spent the season in Triple-A. In 24 games to date, he’d batted .277/.362/.495 with four home runs and three stolen bases (on five tries). He’d also drawn nearly as many walks (13) as strikeouts (16). 

CBS Sports ranked Thomas as the 16th best prospect in the minors entering the spring:

The Diamondbacks organization has made a habit out of taking undersized outfielders. Thomas, listed at 5-foot-11, is one of the prizes from that approach. (The injured Corbin Carroll is another.) Thomas authored a breakout season in 2021, batting .313/.394/.559 with 18 home runs, 29 doubles, and 12 triples in 106 contests across Double- and Triple-A. Thomas has a noisy swing, including an elongated leg kick, that helps him generate more power than his size indicates (encouragingly, the moving parts have not resulted in a high strikeout rate). Add in his good defense, and he should become the Diamondbacks’ starting center fielder as early as this spring.

The Diamondbacks, 14-14 on the season, have primarily used David Peralta, Daulton Varsho, and Pavin Smith in their outfield this season. Ostensibly, manager Torey Lovullo will shift either Peralta or Smith to the designated hitter role, with Thomas’ addition improving their outfield defense. 

The D-Backs have not received much production from the DH slot this season. Seth Beer and Cooper Hummel have started 24 of Arizona’s 28 games at DH, yet neither has an OPS+ higher than 83.

Thomas isn’t the only notable outfield prospect in the Diamondbacks’ system. Corbin Carroll, the team’s first-round pick in 2019, is hitting .322/.456/.644 with seven home runs and eight steals in 23 games at the Double-A level.

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