Budding Stars Goldy,
Didi And Lefty Pace D-backs
Every Team Needs Good And Young Players, But Very Few Organizations Mine Jewels In The Rough As Promising As Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin And Didi Gregorius
Paul Goldschmidt, Top left, Didi Gregorious, bottom left, and Patrick Corbin, bottom right. Photos curtsy of MLB.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
May 24, 2013 — After two months of play, the Diamondbacks are entering the heart of the season in a position few pundits predicted: situated near the top of the National League West.
As of May 24, the Diamondbacks sat stuck in a three-way tie for first place with the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies. Despite the loss of an often dominant Justin Upton and a bullpen that had been shaky through the early part of 2013, the team has thrived.
Arizona has two surprising players and one not-so-surprising star to thank for its success. The even better news is one is just reaching his prime and the other two are budding prospects.
The league is being forced to take notice.
While many expected big things from Goldy following the solid season he turned in last year (.286 AVG, 20 HR, 82 RBI), I do not think anyone expected the 25-year-old first baseman to turn in such an impressive start to the 2013 campaign. I sure didn’t.
I have always liked Goldschmidt, but I never thought of him as a superstar, capable of single-handedly propelling a team to the next level. But that is exactly what he is doing. I expected Goldschmidt to be an old-school, second-fiddle first baseman, putting up plus numbers year in and year out while failing to ascend to true superstar status. A lesser Tino Martinez type, consistently knocking 20 to 30 home runs and driving in around 90 RBI.
But Goldschmidt has taken his game to another level. For stretches early in the season, he powered the team on offense and won games. He is currently batting .316 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI, which puts him on pace for 40 HR and 144 RBI this season. He’s fourth in both leagues with a 1.002 OPS — Justin Upton has a .972, by the way. If he can maintain this pace, the experts might stop harping on the Justin Upton deal. Goldy might get the MVP Upton was always supposed to win one day. This is Goldy’s team.
Where to start with this kid? After putting together a decent rookie year as a spot starter and reliever last season, Corbin has been nearly unhittable in 2013 compiling a 7-0 record. His 1.44 ERA is second only to Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw and his .196 batting average against is good for 10th in Major League Baseball.
Not only is Corbin compiling a fantastic statistical season, he is doing so when the Diamondbacks need him most. Former staff ace Ian Kennedy is in the midst of stringing two subpar years together thanks to his performance thus far and the rest of the staff has been hit or miss. Corbin’s early season performances have provided some stability on a volatile pitching staff.
Corbin has a killer slider, and all Diamondbacks fans know how dangerous a talented lefty with a slider is. While prospect Tyler Skaggs was seen as the prize haul in the Dan Haren trade, Corbin is challenging that notion as he develops into a top-flight starter.
What was the early knock on Gregorious again? Oh yeah, he has no bat. When the Diamondbacks acquired the slick-fielding shortstop, word was that he needed some offensive seasoning in the minors before he would be big league ready.
Since being called up to replace an injured Willie Bloomquist — or Aaron Hill depending on how you look at it — all Gregorious has done is hit .348 with three home runs and eight RBI in 24 games. He also has a .406 OBP and a .554 SLG. While these numbers are obviously unsustainable (he had a .273/.324/.381 slashline in the minors), Gregorious has proved he can hit in the bigs. While he almost certainly will not continue his hot streak at the plate for the rest of the season, the Dutchman — by way of Curacao — has shown enough skill with the bat to justify keeping his golden glove in the lineup.
When the Diamondbacks received Gregorious in the Trevor Bauer trade, it seemed like the team was making a move for the long-term; that Gregorius was the shortstop of the future. However, after two months of the 2013 season, it looks like the 23-year-old is the infield captain of today.
The Diamondbacks have plenty of questions and concerns as the team heads into the heart of the 2013 season. But if Arizona’s young core of talented players can continue to produce at a high-level, then the squad has a real chance of surprising everyone and grabbing the NL West title. Only time will tell if the young guns can stand up to the grind of a 162-game season and carry the team into the playoffs.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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