May 20, 2024

A.J. Vukovich Presents an Interesting Profile for the Outfield

The Diamondbacks’ No. 14 prospect occasionally shows off impressive tools, but his bat may limit his potential.

This post is a part of a series that lists the top 30 prospects the Diamondbacks have entering the 2024 campaign. Michael McDermott collaborates with the Inside the Diamondbacks staff to determine these rankings.

In the shortened 2020 Draft, A.J. Vukovich was chosen by the Diamondbacks in the fourth round because of his easy-to-use, compact stroke. Arizona signed him to a $1.25 million slot bonus, well above slot, presumably expecting a future starter. He has had two good but unspectacular years at bat in the system and has had to switch positions. Given the uncertainty surrounding his bat’s ability to play in the major leagues.

2023 Recap: After a solid but somewhat troubling year in Hillsboro, the D-backs promoted Vukovich to Double-A Amarillo for the 2023 season. With the Sod Poodles, he hit .263 with 24 home runs, a franchise record 96 RBI, and an .818 OPS. FanGraphs credited him with his best offensive season in minor leagues, hitting 11% better than the average Texas League player in that environment with a 111 wRC+. That certainly is not bad for a player in his Age 21 season in Double-A. The D-backs then sent him to the Arizona Fall League to see how he’d handle a less extreme hitting environment and Vukovich didn’t necessarily impress with a .275/.326/.338 slash line in an OBP-driven league. Considering his success at Double-A, his 2023 season should be viewed as a successful one. He also made a position change from third base to a first base/outfield role, with the most starts coming in center field with 60.

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