2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Review: # 43 Stuart Fairchild
- Score: 2.75
- Age: 25
- 2021 statistics: 12G, (4 starts) 2 for 15, 1 Double, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 3 K’s
- Gains 2021: $ 150,283 (league minimum valued at pro)
- Status 2022: Pre-Arb 1, 40 Man Roster
Stuart Fairchild grew up in Seattle and played his college ball at Wake Forrest. He had a big year in his junior year in 2017, hitting 0.360 / 0.439 0.636 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs in 63 games, prompting the Cincinnati Reds to take him to the 2sd round with the 38e overall pick of this year’s draft.
Over the next two years, his progress was slowed down a bit by swing changes that took a long time to bear fruit. But in 2019, it had very good numbers in A + (130 wRC +) and AA (141 wRC +). While it doesn’t quite show the home run the Reds might have hoped for when they drafted it, he still had a solid 44 XBH and ISO of .177 that year. Coupled with a solid defensive reputation and good speed, it was a good performance. Heading into 2020, Baseball America had ranked him No.9 in the Reds’ system and had this to say in their scout report:
Fairchild made the effort to simplify his swing and start it earlier, which allowed him to put the barrel on the ball more consistently and show average or better hitting ability. With improvements to the timing of his lower and upper half, Fairchild has a chance to develop above-average power on the road. His positive instincts and high speed give him the ability to play in the middle of the field, and he has the middle arm to fill all three outfield positions as needed.
Of course, he didn’t play in any Minor League games in 2020, and on August 31, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks with Josh VanMeter in exchange for Archie Bradley.
He started the year at Reno and started his first 10 games well, with .263 / .333 / .421, .754 OPS with 1 homer in 42 PA. He then suffered a hamstring injury and missed over a month. On his return, however, he was lighting up the league, going 11 for 26 with 5 homers in 7 games, winning a call to the majors.
He made his major league debut on July 6 as a pinch runner and landed a hit on his first at bat the next day as a pinch hitter. On July 8, he got a start against Colorado, going 0-3 with one strikeout. His next departure wouldn’t come before 12 days later, July 20, with only a few PH appearances in between. The table below shows what Torey Lovullo’s rosters looked like between July 6 and July 28. David Peralta has played almost every game, as have Christian Walker and Kole Calhoun. They could easily have given Walker a few extra days off and played Smith at 1B instead of CF. Walker was doing absolutely nothing during that time batting .255 with Zero HR in 59AP. Peralta also hit 0.255, with just 1 HR in 64 AP. Calhoun, returning from injury on July 10, hit .133 with 0 HR in 48 PA. Is that why the team wasted Fairchild’s call ??
Unfortunately, another major bump in the road was affected at the end of the month. As reported in the July 30 preview, Fairchild has been placed on COVID IR
Two players have tested positive, Noe Ramirez and Stuart Fairchild. Both are SYMPTOMATIC. Torey couldn’t tell if either was vaccinated. They were tested on the last day in Chicago according to Torey, but both were with the team in Texas.
He eventually cleared the Protocols and was activated out of IL on August 18, but after two rehab games in the Complex League, he was sent back to Reno. He was recalled briefly in the first week of September, given two starts, the second of which he received two at sticks before being substituted out of the game. Then he was sent back to Reno where he spent the rest of the season. Note that he completed a 131 wRC + in 182 PA in Reno, including 9 circuits. There’s definitely a bit of pop in the bat, but he just hasn’t had enough luck showing it. Here’s how those last two MLB ABs went:
As reported on November 26, the team traded for right-handed outfielder / 1B Jordan Luplow. Barring a string of injuries or the trade of a veteran like David Peralta, the move will likely reduce any opportunities Fairchild might otherwise have had in 2022. While it is far from certain that Fairchild, 26 years old, will never become average or above average. A major league outfielder, it looks like the team won’t give him a chance to show what he can do. Four MLB starts during 2021 certainly didn’t give him that opportunity. While Fairchild isn’t exactly the cross I want to die on when it comes to criticizing the squad’s handling of outlook and player ratings, I personally think it’s pretty emblematic of the issues of the past two years. . By the end of May, that team’s chances of winning a season were already pretty slim. From that point on, decisions about player personnel should have been made with an emphasis on the development and assessment of young talent. But, the team was slow to take the veterans off the roster (and off the roster) and wasted a lot of APs that should have gone to the younger ones that just might surprise you. How are you going to find that Diamondback in the rough if you don’t dig?