Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers competing for the fifth rotation spot

What pitcher could claim the fifth rotation spot during Spring Training for the Arizona Diamondbacks?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds
Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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New Hanover pitcher Blake Walston throws against D.H. Conley in game one of the East Regional Final
New Hanover pitcher Blake Walston throws against D.H. Conley in game one of the East Regional Final / [MATT BORN/STARNEWS] via Imagn Content

Blake Walston

Blake Walston is another former first-rounder and another one of the D-Backs’ top prospects. He isn’t as highly regarded as Cecconi, but he still ranks top 30 among MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, and Baseball America. Walston made it to Triple-A last year, where he posted some solid numbers and was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the 40-man roster.

Walston pitched 149.1 innings in 30 starts, working to a 4.52 ERA, 5.39 ERA, and 1.58 WHIP. Keep in mind his ERA was over a run better than the league average in the PCL. But Walston had some worrying peripherals. He walked 14% of the batters he faced. On top of that, he had a K% of 15.6%. His 0.54 HR/9 looks great on paper, but he also had a 5.3% HR/FB ratio, so there’s bound to be some regression.

I would give him a little slack, though. This was the first time he ever pitched with the automated strike zone, and some pitchers had some trouble adjusting to that last season. Walston sits in the low 90s with his four-seam fastball, but his slider and change-up have the potential to be plus offerings. His curveball also has average potential.

Walston’s stuff took a step back from 2022, but he still has the potential to be a cog in the Diamondbacks’ rotation. Walston is still a little young as he won’t turn 23 until late-June. He has a longer shot to make the team’s starting rotation.