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Longtime Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph was non-tendered by the team last week and delivered a heartfelt tribute to O’s fans and the organization on Twitter, but it is still possible that he could be back in orange and black next spring.

The non-tender means that the team decided not to go through salary arbitration with him, but that does not disqualify the Orioles from trying to sign him to a contract on their own terms.

If Joseph’s lengthy tweet seems to indicate that he doesn’t expect that to happen, well, who knows? He has been a very valuable part of the club in spite of his spotty offensive production and would seem to be someone who could still help with the development of the organization’s young pitchers.
Orioles nontender infielder Tim Beckham, catcher Caleb Joseph at Friday’s deadline

Orioles

Orioles nontender infielder Tim Beckham, catcher Caleb Joseph at Friday’s deadline
Nov 30, 2018 | 8:20 PM

“What I WILL NEVER FORGET is the way the fans, staff, and my teammates embraced me and my family,’’ the last paragraphs of the Tweet read. “To each and every one I came in contact with as an Oriole and all of its affiliates I want to extend my sincerest gratitude for the love and support you showed us over a decade.

“I married my wife and had two kids while being an Oriole. Baltimore will always have a special place in our hearts. This isn’t ‘goodbye,’ but hopefully ‘see you later.’
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“Thank you Birdland.”

Joseph has been in the organization so long that — during his lengthy stay at the Double-A level — he was light-heartedly known as “the mayor of Bowie.” He finally got his chance to play regularly at the major league level when Matt Wieters had to undergo elbow surgery.

His ups and downs at the plate are well-documented, but he was always a solid defender behind it and will land somewhere as a dependable backup if he does not end up re-signing with the O’s.

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We missed an installment from good ol’ Kenny Rosenthal yesterday. He’s back today in full force (unlike another great rumor source, Buster Olney, who posted nothing really new in his blog today).

The A’s, once considered the best bet for Barry Bonds, are no longer interested in the indicted slugger. Rosenthal thinks it’s likely that Bond’s trial will start after Opening Day, causing him to miss time regardless of the verdict. And then there’s the whole prison issue.

The Rangers spoke to the Mariners at the GM meetings regarding the availability of Ben Broussard. Talks didn’t really go anywhere, since Broussard is a non-tender candidate. The Mariners might not be too keen on offering Broussard a raise over the $3.55 million he made last year, in which he managed just 264 plate appearances.

Teams, including the Dodgers, might be more interested in Aaron Rowand over Torii Hunter because of one year and $30 million. Rowand is seeking five years, $60 million, while Hunter wants six and $90 mil. Hunter is far more proven a commodity, though, and is more athletic than Rowand. The negative in Hunter’s corner is that he’s two years older than Rowand.

He mentions that the Cubs are interested in Luis Castillo and Kaz Matsui, both switch hitters, to play second base next year. The Astros and Mets are also in on Castillo, while the Rockies would like to re-sign Kaz — though they have a number of internal candidates, including Ian Stewart.

The Padres are considering offering arbitration to Mike Cameron and Mike Barrett. Barrett seems like a no-brainer. He’s a Type A free agent, and would probably be worth a one-year deal. He could be pricey, though, as Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are making $13 million or more. Cameron also makes sense. The Padres still need a center fielder for 2008, and they’d do well to sign Cam to a one-year deal should he accept arbitration. Otherwise, the supplemental pick would be nice.

Reggie Sanders will consider retirement if he can’t land a deal with the Dodgers, Giants, or Padres. Sanders missed most of the 2007 season with hamstring problems.

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ZEBULON, N.C. – Former Carolina Mudcats and Major League Baseball star Tony Womack will return to Five County Stadium on August 21 as the Mudcats celebrate their 20th Anniversary season in Zebulon.

Womack played for the Mudcats in 1993 and again in their Southern League championship season of 1995 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

“We are excited to have Tony back at Five County Stadium to help celebrate our 20th anniversary,” said Carolina Mudcats General Manager Joe Kremer. “Tony will always be remembered as being one of the best players to put on a Mudcats uniform.”

Womack spent 13 seasons in the big leagues with the Pirates (1993-1998), Arizona Diamondbacks (1999-2003), Colorado Rockies (2003), Chicago Cubs (2003, 2006), St. Louis Cardinals (2004), New York Yankees (2005) and Cincinnati Reds (2006).

The Danville, Va. native may be best remembered for his performance in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with the Diamondbacks against the New York Yankees. With Arizona down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Womack doubled a Mariano Rivera pitch to right field to chase home another former Mudcat, Midre Cummings, and tie the game at 2-2. Two batters later, Luis Gonzalez, who ironically starred for the 1990 Columbus (Ga.) Mudcats, drove home the winning run to make Womack and the Diamondbacks World Series champions.

Womack, who was an MLB All-Star in 1997, led the National League in stolen bases for three consecutive years from 1997 to 1999 and paced the circuit in triples in 2000.

As a shortstop for the 1995 Mudcats, Womack honed his post-season late-inning heroics, starring in the final innings of the fifth and deciding game of the 1995 Southern League championship series against the Chattanooga Lookouts at Five County Stadium.

With Carolina up by a run in the bottom of the eighth, Womack laced a triple that drove in two runs and padded the Mudcats’ lead. Womack ended the inning by scoring himself as Carolina won the game 11-7 and gave Carolina their first Southern League championship since moving to Wake County.

“Pittsburgh Pirates minor league director Chet Montgomery called Tony’s 8th inning at-bat the best he had ever seen”, said Kremer. “Tony fouled off 15 pitches before his triple down the right field line and that really put us in control and led us to that first championship.”

Tickets are on sale for the August 21 game as the Mudcats take on the Mobile BayBears by calling 919-269-CATS or visiting the Mudcats website at www.carolinamudcats.com. Game time is set for 6:15 with gates opening at 5:15.

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Stating “I have nobody to blame but myself,” Mark Grace said Monday he understands why the Arizona Diamondbacks fired him from the broadcast booth last season.

The former Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs first baseman faces a March 19 trial on aggravated DUI following an August arrest in Scottsdale.

“I did this,” he said. “The Diamondbacks didn’t do anything. I think it’s important to own this. I own this.”

Grace’s remarks came at the team’s spring training site, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, where the Diamondbacks held their eighth annual fantasy camp.

Grace has participated in the seven previous camps but didn’t think he would have the opportunity this year after the team announced on Oct. 4 that he wouldn’t return to the booth.

Several weeks ago, however, the team reached out to Grace about participating and “I was happy to grab that olive branch,” he said.

“Mark has always been an important part of our family so we would naturally be here to support him,” Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said. “While he still has some legal issues to overcome, we look forward to his future involvement in the organization.”

Grace pleaded not guilty in October following his August arrest in Scottsdale on suspicion of driving under the influence. It was his second DUI arrest in 15 months.

He was initially pulled over for driving a car with expired registration tags. He also was found to be driving on a suspended license and without a court-ordered ignition interlock device.

It is possible he won’t go to trial if a plea is offered and a settlement is reached.

The support he has received since his arrest has been “humbling,” Grace said.

“There’s been so many warm wishes, text, phone calls from these guys, the campers I’ve spent eight years with,” he said. “And from former teammates, fans. My goodness, it’s been awesome.”

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In his first 8 games as interim manager after the firing of Andy Green, Rod Barajas led the Padres to a 1-7 record.

Not a great start to one’s managerial career.

However, a small sample does not a season make, and those eager to dismiss Barajas as a candidate for the team’s permanent manager position would be ill-advised to argue that those 8 games—at the end of a disappointing and long season—really represent anything more than a whimpering epilogue to a lost season.

For the Padres, those were a sorry 8 games. But there are far more important factors that support a Barajas offseason hire.

Because he fits the market; because he brings continuity to the org; because he would be the perfect mentor to a building-block player: these are the reasons why Rod Barajas should be San Diego’s next skipper.

He’s A Local(ish) Guy

Let’s be honest: as a guy who grew up in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Barajas was likely a Dodger fan growing up. We might forgive him for that, because, far more importantly, Barajas’ So Cal roots give him a chill demeanor that will fit well in this environment.

Here’s a quote from Barajas taken from a September 27th article from the Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee, regarding his transition into the San Diego manager’s seat:

“I reached out to a couple people. Every single one of them said, ‘Be yourself.’ They said, ‘People love you because of how you go about things. Your players like you because you’re Rod Barajas, man.’ I thought about it for a couple seconds, and I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re right.’ From that point, the anxiety, the nervousness subsided.”

Did you hear that? The Padres current manager just said ‘Dude’.

That may seem like a small deal, but can you imagine Andy Green saying ‘Dude’? After years of Green’s steel-gazed intensity, that kind of bro is exactly who this city needs in the dugout.
Continuity

Many are clamoring for the Padres to hire big name, experienced managers with World Series resumes and All-Star pedigrees. The club has already been connected with names of that shape, including Joe Maddon, Mike Scioscia, and Tim Wallach.

In other words, names with virtually zero connection to the Padres organization.

After hiring Bud Black and Andy Green for their last two managers—two guys with zero previous connection to the organization—the Padres would this time do well to bring in someone already within the fold.

Barajas has several years of experience as a manager with our Triple-A and Double-A clubs—meaning he has worked personally with Ty France, Travis Jankowski, and Eric Lauer. We can presume that he has shared grimy, interstate fast food with Hunter Renfroe. No doubt, late-night bus rides have seen the cherubic head of Francisco Mejia nod off to sleep on Rod’s meaty, dad-like shoulder. That’s the kind of personal history that will make players fight for him.

Mejia Will Need The Help

About Mejia—Barajas, as a former veteran, MLB catcher, should be the right guy to mentor him.

In 8 separate seasons of his career, Barajas posted Caught Stealing percentages above the league average. In 5 separate seasons, he posted DRS figures above league average. He wasn’t Brad Ausmus behind the dish, but he should have valuable tutelage to share with the Padres’ young catcher.

“Since the moment I was traded here, he was a big help,” Mejia said this week to Acee. “… Everyone here has respect for him. It’s his personality. It’s who he is. It’s how he talks to people. He’s always trying to help people.”

If the Padres are going to achieve their championship aspirations, Mejia is going to be a big part of things. He is likely the team’s starting catcher moving forward. After Machado and FTJ, he may very well be the team’s third-best hitter. They need him to improve on defense—why not put him under the instruction of a guy who carved out a solid career at that position, and with whom Mejia already feels a great deal of kinship?

For Barajas, it’s clear that respect is something he will not have to work from Day 1 to earn, as it often seemed with Andy Green. For Barajas, respect within this organization is a long time coming.

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Arizona catcher Carson Kelly’s “a-ha” moment occurred May 4, when he hit his first major league home run. It has become the stepping-off point to a remarkable first full season.

Kelly’s 425-foot shot over the Stihl sign in center field in Colorado’s Coors Field helped reinforce a belief that he belonged at this level, and he has spent the ensuing three months providing documentation.

“That just took the pressure off me and it allowed me to not put too much on myself,” Kelly said. “Going out there and executing and playing the way I have my entire life, it’s starting to come out. I’m starting to get that comfort.”

Kelly was obtained with right-hander Luke Weaver and prospect Andy Young from St. Louis for Paul Goldschmidt last winter, a trade in which both sides can claim victory.

Goldschmidt has 12 homers and 32 RBIs in the last 32 games while helping the Cardinals in their postseason push, and Kelly has the look of the long-term solution behind the plate in Arizona.

Kelly, 25, is the most productive catcher in the majors since his initial homer, slashing .298/.403/.640 with 10 doubles, 16 homers and a 1.043 OPS in the ensuing 68 games. Since May 4, he leads catchers in homers, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS among those with at least 150 at-bats.

Included have been a pair of game-tying, save-denying, ninth-inning homers against Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen, the most recent one coming last Friday, a two-run shot to pull the Diamondbacks into a tie at 2. Kelly followed that with a game-winning homer off Julio Urias in the 11th inning for a 3-2 victory.

Scouts have always seen the hit tool in Kelly, who was the Cardinals’ second-round draft pick out of a Portland high school in 2012, and it is not that Kelly was particularly concerned about his offense.

Yet after 131 plate appearances in limited playing time behind All-Star receiver Yadier Molina in three short stints in the majors from 2016-18, there was a natural tendency to wonder.

“Especially for a guy who has been up and down the last couple of years and not having a ton of success, you start questioning yourself, doing different things,” Kelly said candidly.

“Getting this opportunity here and a fresh start allowed me to be myself and go out and just execute.”

Seattle pitching coach Paul Davis, who spent the previous six seasons in the St. Louis organization as a pitching coach and the manager of pitching analytics, is a believer after seeing Kelly hit 17 homers in 538 at-bats at Triple-A Memphis in 2017-18

“I think he just needs a chance to get every-day at-bats, because he has shown that he can be a productive offensive player in Triple-A,” Davis said this spring. “Once he gets the opportunity to play consistently, I think it will work well.”

As it has.

While learning a new staff that because of injuries and trades has gone through 11 starters, Kelly has thrown out 29 percent of potential base stealers. He ranks sixth in the NL in pitching framing, according to baseball-reference.com, a metric that measures the extra strike calls a pitcher gets when he is behind the plate. Kelly often watches his pitchers in their off-day bullpen sessions.

“Just to see what they are working on, so I can make an adjustment during the game,” Kelly said. “I am always trying to learn more about our guys (so) in crunch time, in big situations, I’ll have that extra experience.”

A third baseman in high school and in his first two years in the Cardinals’ organization, Kelly’s transition has been smooth. Kelly became a regular when the Diamondbacks pared their roster from three catchers to two three weeks the last week of May.

“He has never questioned what we’ve asked him to do, and there is a trust and a confidence between everybody,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s very powerful. He goes out with a ton of confidence and an empty mind to be the best version of himself.

“He is growing every single day. At some point he is going to be one of the best in the National League. Hard to believe that he is as young as he is and he is playing at this level. It gives us a lot of be excited for.”

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Albie Lopez, a right-handed pitcher for the Westwood Warriors, was a member of the 1989 United States Junior Olympic team, which won gold and bronze medals. He was awarded a full athletic scholarship for baseball at MCC and led the Thunderbirds to the 1990 Junior College World Series while earning First Team All-American honors for himself.

Albie was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1991, and played his first Major League Baseball game on July 6, 1993, pitching his first shutout in 1994. During his 13-year baseball career, Albie compiled 297 games pitched, 92 games saved, 841.1 innings pitched, 47 wins, 558 strikeouts, and a 4.94 earned run average. He was honored in 2000 as the Player of the Week, while playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and in 2001 Albie reached the ultimate honor in Major League Baseball with a World Series win with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Albie was inducted into the Mesa Public Schools Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. In an article in MCC’s student newspaper, the Mesa Legend, Albie shared, “My entire life has been about baseball. My parents tell me I picked up a baseball at about the age of 3, and I haven’t put it down yet. Baseball pitching is my passion.” Albie continues to assist other players in achieving their dreams, running a baseball instructional league with players across the country.

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Leading off a game at Salt River Fields last week, Geraldo Perdomo took five fastballs, four of them wide of the strike zone, tossed his bat aside and trotted to first base. In his next trip to the plate, he took another fastball for a ball, then shot a curveball into center field for a single.

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Perdomo, the Diamondbacks’ young shortstop prospect, recognizes offspeed stuff well. He has good hand/eye coordination and makes consistent contact. He seems to swing at the right pitches. Most important, he finds his way on base at a steady clip.

During his time in the Arizona Fall League, Perdomo, who turns 20 this month, has exhibited the kind of offensive approach that has helped him quickly ascend through the minor leagues. It also is an approach the Diamondbacks are cultivating throughout their system.

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The first batch of position-player prospects under Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen are nearing the majors. Many have attributes similar to Perdomo.

Catcher Daulton Varsho, first baseman Pavin Smith and Perdomo all are coming off seasons in which they rarely struck out. Three prospects acquired via trade – first baseman Seth Beer, infielder/outfielder Josh Rojas and infielder Andy Young – each had a relatively low strikeout rate, high walk rate or good on-base percentage, or some combination. The same could be said of young outfielders Alek Thomas, Kristian Robinson and Corbin Carroll.

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By and large, those players make up the organization’s next wave of hitters. To varying degrees, the Diamondbacks believe they all have a prevailing skill. They all have the ability to control the strike zone.

“We feel like the best hitters in baseball have that skill, have the ability to do that,” Hazen said. “Contact is important. We know that strikeouts are a part of the game – guys are going to strike out – and there are times you sell out to power. But being complete hitters is maximizing all those skills. Those guys have those skills. It’s something we value and we’re going to value moving forward.”

The Diamondbacks are not breaking new ground in their focus on controlling the zone, but it does stand in contrast to the type of team they were before Hazen and his group arrived. In 2016, the Diamondbacks had the fourth-highest strikeout rate and tied for the third-worst walk rate in the National League.

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That led to the front office putting an emphasis on approach in the 2017 draft. Smith, the Diamondbacks’ choice that year at No. 7 overall, not only had more walks (38) than strikeouts (12) as a junior at the University of Virginia – he had more home runs (13), as well. After a slow start to his pro career, Smith finished this season with solid numbers (.291 average, .835 OPS) in Double-A.

Making sound swing decisions leads not only to good on-base ability, it also “pretty much translates in all the damage you do,” Diamondbacks minor league hitting coordinator Joe Mather said.

In the first part of the series, you told us who would be the starting eight on the D-backs, selecting just from those players who finished the year under Arizona control. Now, it’s time to fill out the bench roster. This does require a little more than a straight vote, for a couple of reasons. One: we need to ensure coverage at all positions. Two: there will be a 26th man available next season, due to the roster changes. Will this be used on Opening Day to give the D-backs an extra bullpen arm, or to extend manager Torey Lovullo’s bench?

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To ensure coverage, I have gone for one backup catcher, a middle infielder, a corner infielder and two outfielders. We have seen the fondness of Lovullo for having three catchers, but that approach seemed to be quietly dropped as the season progressed, and I think we’ll probably see that again going forward. Part of the reason for having three catchers was to allow for greater offensive ability to pinch-hit. But that tactic makes rather more sense when you have Jeff Mathis on your roster, than when you have Carson Kelly. Two spare outfielders also makes sense, given Ketel Marte’s ability to go back to the middle infield when necessary.

So, here are the five players who received most votes for those positions, based on the 320 ballots filled in.

Backup C: Alex Avila (125 votes)
If the fans had their way, we’d probably only have one catcher, and just run Kelly out there every day. But that’s not practical: only two catchers in the majors last year reached even 115 starts (Yasmani Grandal and J.T. Realmuto). Despite missing five weeks early due to injury, Avila had a solid bounceback season. The BA wasn’t great (.207), but he had great plate discipline, with a 17.9% walk-rate; among hitters with 200+ PA, only Mike Trout and Brandon Nimmo were higher. He will be a free-agent, coming off a two-year contract worth $8.25 million, and turns 33 in January. It’ll be interesting to see whether he stays in Arizona, or if the team looks for a cheaper, perhaps more defensively-minded alternative.

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Backup CI: Kevin Cron (132)
Cron wasn’t able to reproduce his AAA numbers – but, then again, how could he deliver a 1.223 OPS? In the end, he came in slightly below average, with a 98 OPS+ in his rookie year. In a small sample size, the power was there – six home-runs in only seventy-eight PA. But so were the strikeouts, with a K-rate of 35.9%, and a K:BB ratio of 7:1. That’ll have to change in his sophomore campaign, if the graduate of Mountain Pointe HS here in Phoenix wants to become a solid back-up to Christian Walker. In his defense, most (24 of 39) of Cron’s appearances came off the bench, and he performed creditably as a pinch-hitter with an OPS of .815 in that role.

Backup MI: Ildemaro Vargas (231)
Quite surprised to realize this was actually Vargas’s third season in the majors. But we saw a lot more of him in 2019, appearing in 92 games, compared to 12 and 14 the previous two years. His positional flexibility is key to his securing a roster spot. While he played most at second-base, he also started at third and shortstop, and even played some inning in both corner outfield spots. He made just one error in approaching three hundred innings at second, and didn’t embarrass himself at the plate, with an OPS+ of 82. A few more walks would be nice, as he only had nine in 211 PA, though Vargas struck out just 24 times, so was clearly putting the ball in play.

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Backup OF #1: Josh Rojas (268)
A bit of a surprise here, to see rookie Rojas receive most votes among the bench candidates. Might be some home cooking here, Arizona fans feeling a special attachment to a man born and brought up locally, just a few miles from SnakePit Towers. Josh is probably the first to play for the D-backs, who was a fan growing up. He was also the first prospect received from the Astros in the Zack Greinke trade to reach the majors. While his impact was limited (OPS+ of 64, 0.0 bWAR in 41 games), he didn’t embarrass himself in his rookie season. As the outfield is an area where we don’t have much depth at the higher end of the minors, he will potentially be useful next year, at minimum cost.

Backup OF #2: Steven Souza Jr. (232)
The first two seasons of Souza’s time here have been an almost unmitigated disaster, with just 72 games played, none of them in 2019, and a value below replacement level. Steven is under team control for next year, in his final year of arbitration. But Souza has to be considered a non-tender candidate, even if he will get little or no increase from this year’s salary of $4.125 million. On the other hand, the lack of credible alternative candidates mean that price-tag would not be bad value, if he was able to return to the level of production seen when fully healthy, prior to 2018 (OPS+ of 105, 2.6 bWAR per 650 PA). Keyword in that sentence is, obviously, “if”…

26th man: Jake Lamb (122)
If the team were to go with an extra bench bat, Lamb was selected by readers to fill that spot. That might not be a bad position for him. As a left-hander, he would be a platoon partner for Walker/Cron at first, and Lamb can also play on the other corner of the infield. However, MLB Trade Rumors project a $5 million arbitration figure for Jake, which is high for an occasional player. He also struggled even against RHP this year, batting .177 with a .607 OPS, when previously that was his biggest plus: “Well, at least Lamb rakes against righties.” In 2019, not so much. Whether the team decides that was a blip or not, may well determine whether or not he is tendered a contract or follows Chris Owings into the wilderness.

Not selected
Jarrod Dyson (119)
Domingo Leyba (109)
Caleb Joseph (84)
Abraham Almonte (79)
Adam Jones (73)
Blake Swihart (29)
Yasmany Tomas (13)
Some free-agents to be of note here, including Dyson and Jones. It seems most people see Tim Locastro as a cheaper alternative to Dyson. And for all the benefits of Jones’s clubhouse presence, he’s clearly on the downside of his career, putting up his lowest OPS+ (87) in more than a decade. The rest are a combination of those whose future is still in front of them (Leyba and Joseph), apparently fungible outfield types (Almonte and Swihart)… And, in last place, the albatross which is Yasmany Tomas. He received just 13 votes. I’ll have to check the IP address those came from, I’d not be surprised if they were all over towards the East of the country… :)

Next up, probably after the weekend, the starting pitchers!

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“Guys who are pretty aggressive are going to see fewer pitches in their zone because the at-bat is going to be over sooner,” Mather said. “For a guy like Perdomo, who does a really good job of taking pitches out of the zone, it forces pitchers back in the zone, which is going to give him far more opportunities to hit balls over the middle of the plate.”

Arizona Diamondbacks catching prospect Daulton Varsho during spring training workouts on Feb. 15, 2019 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Arizona Diamondbacks catching prospect Daulton Varsho during spring training workouts on Feb. 15, 2019 at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)

As it happens, Perdomo is the only one of the aforementioned players that the Hazen regime inherited. The Diamondbacks signed him out of the Dominican Republic in July 2016, some three months before Hazen was hired. Still, Hazen has opted to keep him; the same is not true of the strikeout-prone Jazz Chisholm, another shortstop prospect whom the Diamondbacks traded to the Miami Marlins in July for starting pitcher Zac Gallen.

Before a fall league game last week, Perdomo described his approach as being dependent upon how he is pitched. If a pitcher is throwing strikes, Perdomo said he will appear aggressive. If not, he will wait him out. Asked how he was able to learn to hit like this, he said he considers himself fortunate.

“I was born like that,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “That’s me. Nobody taught me how to hit like that.”

The Diamondbacks believe there is some universal truth to that. Hazen thinks an ability to control the zone is more innate than, say, good swing mechanics, but the club puts significant time into honing hitters’ approaches in the minors. One way it does that, Mather said, is to make batting practice more game-like by having hitters take rounds of BP in which they might not swing the bat if the pitches don’t call for it.

“We have them really lock into their pitch,” Mather said. “We’re not worried about them getting their five full swings. We’re worried about them making the right decisions.”

The organization also tries to be proactive with prospects who aren’t as advanced in their approaches. One example came early this season, when coaches sat down with Low-A infielder Blaze Alexander to encourage him to be more selective.

“It’s important because you have to learn this at the lower levels or you’ll never figure it out up here,” Diamondbacks Assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye said. “You’re trying to teach him that approach and hopefully it all meshes when he gets to Double-A or Triple-A.”

It will be years before anyone knows for sure if this wave of young position players can develop into successful major leaguers. But the Diamondbacks are hopeful they have a future core of hitters that has many of the same attributes as those who populate the lineups of teams still playing this October.

“The guys we’re going out and getting, they (already) get on base and have a good eye, and I think that’s a great start,” Mather said. “Power usually comes later.”