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Lawlar, De Los Santos speeding toward the desert

D-backs prospects shine while earning multiple promotions in 2022
Jordan Lawlar played at least 20 games at three different levels and compiled a .303/.401/.509 slash line overall. (Amarillo Sod Poodles)
October 13, 2022

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in all 30 farm systems. We start our 2022 Organization All-Stars series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in all 30 farm systems. We start our 2022 Organization All-Stars series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Reno: 85-63 (Pacific Coast League champs)
Double-A Amarillo: 68-69
High-A Hillsboro: 60-70
Single-A Visalia: 45-87
ACL D-backs Red: 23-32
ACL D-backs Black: 20-34
DSL D-backs Red: 23-35
DSL D-backs Black: 38-20 (division winner)
Overall record: 362-410 (.469 winning percentage, 24th among MLB organizations)

D-backs Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Juan Centeno

The 32-year-old journeyman has played in eight different organizations since 2014 but made the most of his 15th professional season between Amarillo and Reno. He set personal bests in games (91), runs (58), hits (105), total bases (176), doubles (24), homers (15), RBIs (67), slugging percentage (.512) and OPS (.867). This was also his seventh Minor League season in which he batted at least .300.

Centeno, who has 118 career MLB games under his belt, led all D-backs catchers in most offensive categories in 2022 and threw out almost as many would-be base stealers (27) as he allowed (28).

Honorable mention: Nick Dalesandro caught 48 games with Amarillo, including Brandon Pfaadt’s 12-strikeout performance in June, and played 33 games in the outfield. The 26-year-old batted .275 and stealing 35 bases on the season.

First base: Leandro Cedeno

The 24-year-old, who landed with the D-backs on a Minor League deal after seven seasons in the Cardinals organization, made headlines in July when he bashed a 527-foot homer at HODGETOWN.

“It is legit raw power. I know he was playing in an offensive environment in Amarillo, but the power was real,” said D-backs director of player development Josh Barfield. “He showed that he was not just an all-or-nothing type guy. He handled pitching well. He got better as the year went on. And he was able to have a really good season.”

Arizona challenged Cedeno with a late promotion to Triple-A, which was a first for the 6-foot-2, 195-pound slugger who signed out of Guatire, Venezuela in 2014. Over the course of the full season, Cedeno led the organization with 32 homers while driving in 103 runs and batting .308/.369/.549.

Second base: Cristofer Torin

It’s difficult for players in Rookie-ball to crack these lists, but the 17-year-old Torin shined above the rest in his first professional season. The Acarigua, Venezuela, native had more hits (53) than games played (50) and more walks (37), RBIs (26) and stolen bases (21) than strikeouts (20).

“What he did at that level, You don't see very often,” Barfield said. “And the guys that do it end up being pretty good players.”

There were only 14 players across the Minors with at least 200 plate appearances and a strikeout rate lower than 10 percent in 2022. Among that group, Torin had the most steals and the highest on-base percentage (.465) and wRC+ (153), while his .899 OPS ranked second to veteran Willians Astudillo.

Torin was the leader of a D-backs Black club that won its division before losing in the quarterfinal round of the DSL playoffs. He played all three infield positions, but mostly stuck at second base.

“He's able to make all the plays, and make them look easy. You don't see that at that level very often,” Barfield said. “We're really excited about him, and we'll look to challenge him next year as well."

Third Base: Deyvison De Los Santos

The club’s sixth-ranked prospect led the system with 106 RBIs while ranking near the top of the organizational charts with 22 homers, 157 hits, 29 doubles and .306 batting average.

“From the time he got here last year, he's showed big tools,” Barfield said. “He's incredibly young, but just physically so advanced. … It's big, big power, but I don't think he's a power hitter. I think he's a good hitter with power.”

The 19-year-old also won the California League batting title, batting .329 with an .883 OPS in 316 at-bats with Visalia. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound slugger was promoted to Hillsboro in July and finished the season with Amarillo. He’s also playing for Salt River as one of the few teenagers in the Arizona Fall League.

“There's still some things to work on as far as the approach and some of the swing and miss,” Barfield said, in reference to De Los Santos’ 26.3 percent strikeout rate. “But I think that's going to improve as he continues to hone that in and as he just gets more reps.”

Of the 17 players in the Minors to reach 100 RBIs this season, De Los Santos finished among the top five in singles (second), hits (third) and average (fourth), but also had the second-highest strikeout rate and the lowest walk rate (6.1 percent).

Shortstop: Jordan Lawlar

The D-backs aren’t shy about challenging prospects, even when coming off an injury -- and Lawlar was no exception. MLB Pipeline's No. 12 overall prospect played at least 20 games at three different levels and compiled a .303/.401/.509 slash line.

“It's a very mature approach for a high school kid,” Barfield said. “He's got the ability to use the entire field, he can handle velocity – pitch recognition is a strength for him.”

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder bashed 16 long balls and stole 39 bases while leading the organization with 98 runs scored. Lawlar also added 16 doubles, 62 RBIs and 57 walks. Like De Los Santos, Lawlar also earned promotions to Hillsboro and Amarillo and is currently finishing his season in the AFL.

“So far, everything we've thrown at him, he has not looked overmatched, which is pretty impressive because we've thrown a lot at him here in his first two years of pro ball,” Barfield said.

Outfield: Dominic Canzone

Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas had excellent seasons in both the Minors and the Majors for the D-backs, but it’s because of their MLB success that those two cornerstones have been left off this list.

That’s not to take anything away from Canzone or the other outfielders who made the cut. The 25-year-old gets his second consecutive Organization All-Star nod after batting .299/.367/.541 with 22 homers and 89 RBIs. The Ohio State product opened the year at Double-A before being promoted to Triple-A for the first time just 11 games into the season. He also spent a month on the injured list and made three rehab appearances in the ACL.

Stone Garrett

After coming up through the Marlins system, the 26-year-old slugger seems to have found a home with the D-backs while earning his second consecutive Org All-Star nod in 2022. But the big prize was his first promotion to the big leagues in August.

Garrett belted 28 homers in Reno and four more in Arizona. He had 22 doubles with the Aces and eight with the D-backs. And his .275 average in the PCL was a point shy of his mark in the Majors.

Among D-backs Minor Leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances, Garrett ranked near the top of the system in triples (fifth), homers (second), runs (seventh), slugging (second) and OPS (sixth).

Dominic Fletcher

Fletcher created his own space among a talented group of D-backs outfielders by leading the system in five different offensive categories: hits (163), singles (106), doubles (35), triples (10) and runs scored (98). The 25-year-old brother of Angels second baseman David Fletcher also batted .312 with an .864 OPS across two levels.

The D-backs’ No. 13 prospect finished his first full season last year in Amarillo and returned to the Texas League to start 2022. After batting .346 to open the season, he was promoted to Reno in May and never looked back. Fletcher hit .301 with 29 doubles and eight triples for the Aces. The 2019 first-rounder was one of 13 Minor Leaguers with at least 10 triples this season. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound left-hander batted .261 against southpaws but also had a 23.3 percent strikeout rate and .681 OPS against them.

As excellent as his offensive season was, Fletcher’s highest-graded tools are his arm and fielding ability.

Right-handed starter: Brandon Pfaadt

The obvious number that jumps out when looking at Pfaadt’s season is the record 218 strikeouts -- the most any Minor League pitcher has compiled in a single season since 2001. Perhaps as impressive was the fact that he actually improved after being promoted to Triple-A, where he frequently pitched in the most hitter-friendly environments.

Pfaadt went 5-1 with a 2.63 ERA and .210 opponents batting average over 10 starts with Reno after an August promotion, and led all Minor Leaguers with 167 total innings. His first 19 starts came with Amarillo, where he put together a 6-6 record, 4.53 ERA and .274 batting average against. The Louisville, Kentucky, native made 15 quality starts in 2022, had five double-digit strikeout performances and hurled the first five innings of Reno's victory in the PCL title game.

His strikeout rate following the promotion actually decreased, but Barfield felt that the success in that area showed a lot about his makeup.

“This guy is very focused, very determined, and it's no surprise. He was a fifth rounder. He didn't even start on his college team,” Barfield said. “So, for somebody like that to do what he's done so far in his professional career, it didn't happen by accident. It's a lot of hard work he's put in. A lot of determination, and I think it's getting off in spades for right now.”

Barfield also noted that Pfaadt’s command stayed sharp even while his fastball velocity ticked up. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder can also use his changeup effectively to both left and right-handed hitters, and he rounds out the arsenal with a plus slider.

The No. 90 overall prospect has a 3.56 ERA since making his professional debut last year and is well-positioned to compete for a spot in the big-league rotation this spring.

Left-handed starter: Yu-Min Lin

It was difficult to outshine the year put forth by Blake Walston, the club’s No. 5 prospect. But Lin, who didn’t make his debut in the ACL until June, showed that he could be one of the most intriguing left-handers in the Minors.

”As he started to get ramped up, and as we started to see him facing hitters, it was quickly apparent that this guy was more advanced than we thought,” Barfield said.

The 19-year-old was flat-out dominant in seven starts in Rookie-ball, compiling a 2.35 ERA with 41 punchouts and a .118 opponents batting average over 23 innings before being promoted. Lin continued his strong campaign in Visalia, where he faced much more experienced hitters, and completed 33 ⅓ innings with a 2.97 ERA and 50 punchouts.

“It seemed like he was toying with hitters because the guy's got upwards of seven pitches, and he could throw them all for strikes,” Barfield said. “Just the ability to manipulate the baseball at such a young age.”

The D-backs No. 15 prospect pitched for Chinese Taipei in the U-12, U-15, U-18 and U-23 Baseball World Cups before signing with the D-backs for $525,000 last February.

“He's not full physically developed, yet he still touches 93 [mph] regularly,” Barfield said. “So we know there's going to be more in there as he continues to grow and mature. … He handled [advanced competition] incredibly well. Just the strike throwing ability and ability to manipulate the baseball separates him from others.”

Reliever: Kyle Backhus

The 24-year-old lefty thrived during his first foray into the bullpen. In 40 appearances, spanning 52 ⅓ innings, Backhus pitched to a 3.27 ERA with 78 strikeouts. His 13.41 K/9 was the third best in the system among pitchers that completed at least 40 innings.

Backhus signed as an undrafted free agent with the D-backs last year after five seasons at Sam Houston State. Like Lawlar and De Los Santos, Backhus also followed the path from Hillsboro to Amarillo to Salt River this season.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for