Newly signed Diamondbacks righty Dan Straily chatted with The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan at length about his decision to sign with Arizona and his goals of reestablishing himself as a quality big league starter after a strong two-year run in the Korea Baseball Organization. Straily indicated that he had multiple offers but chose to sign with the D-backs for several reasons, including a good opportunity to earn a roster spot out of the gate and relative proximity (a two-hour flight) to his family’s home in Oregon. He candidly acknowledged that he went to South Korea in need of major improvement — “I didn’t end up in Korea because I was ready to be in the major leagues at the time” — and discussed changes he’s made to his repertoire, including pitch grips, pitch shapes, and an entirely new pitch.
More broadly, fans will want to check out the whole Q&A to get a sense of Straily’s experiences pitching in a foreign league (and of being in the midst of KBO Spring Training when the pandemic broke out), his relationship with incoming pitching coach Brent Strom and the finer details of the work he’s put in to rebuild his career. Notably, Straily added that he considered waiting until the lockout ended to pursue a Major League contract but ultimately chose a minor league opportunity that allowed him to get rolling as quickly as possible. “We felt like it was time for me to get to work,” said Straily.
For those who missed it, Straily also chatted with MLBTR readers back in December. Within, Straily discussed the difference between pitching in the KBO and in MLB, recalled come key early-career advice from notable teammates, and shared plenty of memories from his time in the Majors and in South Korea.
A few more notes on the D-backs…
- Buchanan also passes along a pair of updates on some of the system’s top prospects (Twitter link). Outfielder Corbin Carroll is back to 100 percent after last year’s season-ending shoulder surgery. The 21-year-old was the No. 16 overall pick in 2019 and is widely regarded as one of the sport’s top 50 overall prospects, even after his 2021 injury. Carroll sustained the injury on a swing that resulted in a home run in one of the just seven games he played with the Snakes’ High-A affiliate last season. He hasn’t had much of a look in the pros thanks to that surgery and the wiped-out 2020 minor league season, but Carroll owns a .316/.428/.542 batting line with four home runs, ten doubles, nine triples and 21 stolen bases (in 23 tries) through his first 215 professional plate appearances, dating back to 2019. He’s viewed as a possible long-term option in center field for the D-backs, though he has a good bit of development left after effectively missing two full years’ worth of reps in 2020-21.
- Also on the mend from shoulder surgery is 2021 top draft selection Jordan Lawlar. The touted young shortstop and No. 6 overall pick sustained a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder not long after signing, limiting his professional debut to just two games with the D-backs’ Rookie-level affiliate. Lawlar, 19, is about a month behind Carroll in his rehab process, per Buchanan, and has not yet been cleared for batting practice. Like Carroll, Lawlar is a consensus top prospect, albeit one who has a bit more variance in terms of scouting reports on his future (which is perhaps to be expected given his lack of pro experience). Keith Law ranked Lawlar No. 31 among MLB prospects, noting that he had the “best package of tools” in the 2021 draft and adding that with Lawlar’s athleticism, speed, arm strength and power potential, he could be in the mix for the sport’s top overall prospect next year.
- Josh Barfield spoke with Bill Ladson of MLB.com to discuss his journey from big league infielder, to scout, to his current role as Diamondbacks director of player development. Barfield “never saw [himself] getting into this side of the game” but now relishes his player development role and the challenges it presents. Citing mentors like former D-backs GM Dave Stewart, current GM Mike Hazen and his own predecessor Mike Bell, who tragically passed away last spring after a battle with kidney cancer, Barfield discussed how his love for player development and baseball operations has grown. His ultimate goal has now shifted from his early days as a scout, as he told Ladson he has his sights set on eventually becoming a general manager. While Barfield acknowledged that “there’s not too many of those jobs,” his interactions with Hazen and Stewart, as well as his “ultra-competitive” nature are now driving that ambition.