#37 Andy Yerzy, C/1B, Double-AA Amarillo Sod Poodles
Who remembers Andy Yerzy? He was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 2nd round wayyyyy back in 2016 by then-GM Dave Stewart. He was a high-schooler from Canada who really struggled over the next few years. It seems like something has been unlocked in him since last year. Perhaps it was the coaching. Whatever it was, Yerzy has been a different hitter since 2021 started. He climbed three levels last year to finally reach Double-AA. What changed last year?
Andy started to hit for more power, draw more walks, and use his speed more. He stole 7 bases, hit a career-high 21 HRs, walked a career-high 53 times, and only played in his 2nd-most games. This spring, he was smoking the ball and reached base 3 times in 7 at-bats over his MLB spring training time. He picked up where he left off last year in Amarillo. Over 17 games there so far, he has hit .292/.390/.431 with 2 HRs, 9 RBI, 10 walks to 17 Ks, and 3 doubles. It's great to see since you never want to see players struggle. The fact he's only 23 is great news for him. He's still got a ways to go but if he continues on this path, I see him ending the season in Triple-AAA Reno and potentially reaching the bigs sometime in 2023.
#36 Jake Rice, LHP, High-A Hillsboro Hops
Jake Rice is a talented lefty reliever who should advance quickly through the minor league system of the Dbacks. He was only drafted last year in the 9th round but is already up two levels in less than a year's time. He was an advanced pick in that he was selected out of college. The 24-year-old is excelling at Hillsboro in a relief role where he's racked up 3 wins in only 7 appearances with 8.2 innings pitched. Over those innings, he has struck out 10, walked 4, and given up only 2 hits with no runs. That's good.
He throws mid-to-low 90s for his fastball that plays faster than it is. He pairs it with a low-80s breaking ball that starts at one side of the zone and ends up nearly hitting the right-handed hitter's foot. It's a powerful pitch that enables plenty of caught-looking strikes or swings and misses. I can easily see him shooting up to Double-AA soon and perhaps even Triple-AAA by the end of the year. Don't be shocked if you start really hearing his name soon. The lefty could be the strikeout lefty in the pen that the Diamondbacks have been looking for.