Diamondbacks: Is it time to bring Alek Thomas to the team?
By Alvin Garcia
The top prospect in the D-Backs organization, ranked eighteenth in the MLB, has one foot in Arizona. MLB.com projects that Alek Thomas will make his major league debut this season. The Diamondback selected the 21-year-old outfielder in the second round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft. The young outfielder is currently playing in the Reno Aces, the team's Triple-A affiliate, waiting for the call.
Thomas was a non-roster invitee last march for the team's Spring Training camp. His numbers were ok. But, the team expected much more production from their number one prospect. In the spring, Thomas slashed .222/.276/.296 with a 572 OPS in 29 plate appearances. He was able to get six hits, four RBIs, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Based on these stats, Alek Thomas was optioned to Triple-A before the camp was over.
His numbers look far better in Reno. Batting .286/.333/.371 with a .705 OPS in 39 plate appearances. He is striking out still at a 15.4% rate with six so far. His last home run was last season, and his RBI numbers have also gone down. But, the D-Backs are in dire need of players that get on base. Thomas has done that pretty well in his four seasons in the minors with a .387 on-base percentage.
Before Saturday's victory against the Mets, Arizona had a slash line of .135/.282/.250 with a .532 OPS in seven games. The worst batting average in the National League and ranked fourteen in on-base percentage. While the bullpen keeps blowing up games, the offense is not producing runs, leaving approximately 7.50 batters on base per game. The D-Backs may say that the team is competitive this year, but it is not.
Arizona is in a very tough division with the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants soaring. Regardless, this season is just not the D-Backs year. Even Colorado started hot with a .282 batting average, the best in the league. Let's call this team for what it is; it's a rebuild. While Thomas is not going to turn this team is a contender, let the kid have major league at-bats. Maybe if the young outfielder gets his feet wet, we might get something rolling. Also, give the fans something to cheer. It is painful enough to get grand slammed by the cocky San Diego Padres. (Editors note, they are indeed cocky).
Let's remember that Arizona ended up tied for the worst record in the league last season (52-110). Getting Alek Thomas can at least bring fans into the stands. The only issue with bringing Thomas up is that he is also another left bat. Incredibly the D-Backs have a surplus of left-handers. The quick idea, trade for right-handed bats. For example, the Yankees are in dire need of a lefty bat. Arizona should combine a trade package to get a starting pitcher like Clarke Schmidt or trade for a major league-ready infielder like Gleyber Torres.
The Diamondbacks are ranked number fourth on their farm system. Arizona can get more prospects or start introducing new guys to spark this offense. Alek Thomas, again, will not make the team compete this year, but he can bring new motivations to the rest of the players.
While hits pile up, the Diamondbacks need to get on base and create run opportunities. The team needs to have more extended at-bats and focus on helping the team, not themselves. Individual stat lines are insignificant in this division. If you are doing good, Arizona may trade you. This mentality needs to change. As one of the youngest franchises in the league, the D-Backs need to be as innovated in the field as they try to be with the uniform changes. Fans don't want a new jersey; they want to win.