A great thing about going to minor league games is that you can quickly rearrange a site’s top 30 prospects list to reflect the value of the players in front of you. For instance, after watching Dbacks outfielder Wilderd Patiño play opening day of the rookie-level Arizona League, I found MLB Pipeline’s ranking of him as the Snakes #19 prospect to be meaningless. Patiño isn’t even eighteen yet…and he’s already a strong, twitchy athlete who barrels balls to all fields with a smooth, simple swing. There’s simply no way the Dbacks have 18 other prospects who are likely to produce as much value as this kid in Major League Baseball. In fact, I think the Venezuelan Patiño is just as talented as Arizona’s #16 overall pick in last month’s draft, prep star Corbin Carroll, making Wilderd a must-target player in any dynasty league.
Patiño immediately showed off his bat speed and running ability with this triple into the gap. At about 6’ tall and over 180 pounds, he generates power with his lower body and keeps his hands short to the ball. Through his first 12 career games (49 PA) in America, Patiño has hit 4 doubles and 3 triples, batting .383 with a .983 OPS.
Patiño’s compact swing should facilitate adjustments at higher levels, and already he tinkers based on the situation. He’ll focus on lifting the ball in a sac fly situation; he’ll shorten his stride if he falls behind after over-swinging. In my video breakdown below, you’ll see at-bats in which Patiño whiffs early on uppercut hacks but then locks in on making contact, coming through with solid singles. Patiño has yet to draw a walk in the AZL (14 K’s), but he’s worked plenty of counts and drew 16 BBs to 24 K’s in the Dominican Summer League last year (138 PA, .707 OPS).
On the base paths, Patiño isn’t the track star that Corbin Carroll is, but he’s still a definite plus. His home to first times range from 4.05 to 4.15 seconds, and he shows a good feel for bunting. Patiño goes from zero to 60 quickly, which should result in stolen base production—he’s 5 out of 7 in the AZL thus far.
Defensively, Patiño gets quick jumps going back or coming in: he’s made good diving catches and is also comfortable running up against the fencing down the line in right field. A quick release makes for solid throws from center field; his original $1.3 million contract with Texas (2017) was voided because of an arm injury, so I’ll keep my eye out for how well he throws when playing RF. Given his athleticism, I’d keep him in center.
Intangibles are especially important for teenagers because of the years of steadfast work it takes to reach the Majors, and Patiño really does impress. He already speaks fluid English: he sounds like a native when calling off outfielders—“I got it I got it I got it!”—and he had a lively debate about the NBA offseason with American coaches in the dugout. He’s a charismatic guy to whom teammates respond positively. As I sat with a cohort of Dbacks pitchers behind home plate, they’d chuckle, “This guy’s a monster. If he’s not going to the Show, no one is.”
In conclusion, Wilderd Patiño is one of the 10 most promising players in Arizona’s farm system, even after a huge influx of talent from drafting eight of the first 93 amateurs last month. There’s always significant risk when we talk about teenagers below A-ball, but Patiño is someone I see appearing on top 100 in baseball lists down the road. So watch more video, see him in person if you get the chance, and definitely scoop him up if you play in a dynasty league. And if he makes the most of his abilities, how cool is it going to be to have a player with the name Wilderd bringing the thunder for your team?!
Follow Jacob on Twitter @TheReelJZ