Aug 24, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; National pitcher Touki Toussaint (20) delivers a pitch during the 2013 Under Armour All-American Baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports
In case you forgot, the Arizona Diamondbacks had a really busy 2014 First Year Player Draft in June. The team had five picks in the first 100 selections, and as a result were really busy in the early rounds.
The club used all five of their top picks on high school talent allowing the team to inject a lot of high-ceiling prospects in their farm system.
The busy draft in June has led to an even busier instructional league. Typically an MLB instructional league takes place in October and is made up of lower level players, prospects, and draft picks. The goal is for those players to progress with the help of major league coaching.
The results are starting to pay off really early for the Dbacks.
Diamondbacks player development director Mike Bell is pleased with what he has seen so far from righ-hander Touki Toussaint, outfielders Matt Railey and Marcus Wilson, left-hander Cody Reed, and shortstop Isan Diaz.
The Dbacks selected Toussaint in the first round with the 16th overall pick, and he continues to progress quickly. When he was drafted, he was considered one of the top high school pitching prospects.
This is what Bell told Teddy Cahill of MLB.com about Toussaint:
"“In instructional league, he’s begun to take strides and take what he does so well in bullpens and applying it to game settings.” “He commands his fastball to both sides of the plate. His breaking ball has been sharp and he’s throwing a good changeup too. He’s a good young pitcher.”"
The Dbacks were also really impressed with their third round pick Railey. At age 19, he is the oldest of the Dbacks top five selections. He was sent to Missoula right after he was drafted, but he only played in 13 games after a hamstring injury ended his season in June.
This is what Bell had to say about Railey’s progress:
"“He’s developing nicely for the amount of time he’s been healthy,” Bell said. “We’re anxious to see him in the spring.”"
Instructional League also gives the Dbacks a chance to work with players that have been in their system for a while. One guy the coaches are focusing on this year is catcher Stryker Trahan. Trahan was the 26th overall pick in the 2012 draft. This year was a struggle for him, partly because he was learning the outfield.
Trahan started out the season with Class A South Bend, and struggled at the plate while trying to learn a new position. In 95 games he hit .198 with 13 home runs. The Dbacks decided to send him short season Hillsboro hoping that he would regain his confidence.
He told the Dbacks that he was more comfortable with catching so he returned to that role and found more success at the plate. In 30 games he hit .257 with 6 home runs, and helped the Hops win the Northwest League Championship.
Moving forward, it looks like Trahan will be sticking with catching. The Dbacks are hoping that if he plays a less demanding position, he will be able to relax at the plate. For a young player, trying to learn a new position can be a challenge.
This is what Bell said about Trahan’s development:
"“Even when he transitioned back into that role, he really picked up where he left off.” “At Hillsboro he was making steady progress and now he’s making big strides.”"
The progress of some of the Snakes young players gives Dbacks fans hope that this team will contend well into the future.