ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs Farm Rumblings: Cron and Locastro dominating; Visalia rolling

Apr 29, 2019, 7:15 AM | Updated: 9:14 am
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A lot happened this past week in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league system.

Torrid hitting, stingy pitching and a comeback for the ages highlighted what went down with the Reno Aces, Jackson Generals, Visalia Rawhide and Kane County Cougars over the past seven days.

Here’s a closer look…

Reno Aces (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

Reno’s 15-5 win over the Fresno Grizzlies Thursday night could have easily been called “The Tim Locastro and Kevin Cron Show.” The duo combined to go 7-for-9 with seven runs scored, six home runs and 13 RBI. You read those numbers correctly.

Locastro led the game off with a home run, then had a solo shot in the second inning and clubbed a grand slam in the fifth.

You might get a kick out of Locastro’s motivation for his big night.

Cron, meanwhile, also homered in the first and second innings (both two-run shots) and added a three-run blast in the fourth.

The next night, Locastro and Cron continued to be a thorn in Fresno’s side, going 5-for-8 with three runs scored and four RBI in a 10-6 win.

Oh, they weren’t done. Saturday night, four more hits, four more runs scored and Cron homered again — a two-run blast in the first inning to start the scoring in a wild 14-13 win in which the Aces rallied from a 13-5 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to win. Former Arizona State star Andrew Aplin capped the win with a walk-off grand slam off of Fresno reliever Tanner Rainey.

Cron was almost impossible to get out this past week, hitting .444 (8-for-21) with five home runs and 15 RBI. The 26-year-old is tied for the PCL lead with 11 home runs while his 33 RBI outpaces all competitors.

Locastro has been on a torrid pace since being optioned to Reno on April 20, hitting .542 (13-for-25) with 10 runs scored, three homers and 10 RBI in just six games.


Jackson Generals (Double-A Southern League)

Right-hander Emilio Vargas earned his first win of 2019 by allowing just five hits and two earned runs while striking out six over six innings in a 5-2 road triumph over Birmingham Monday night.

Vargas, the 16th-best prospect in the D-backs organization, according to MLB.com, has been solid this season, going at least five innings in all of his starts and yielding two runs or less in four of his five outings.

Sam Lewis picked up where Vargas left off Tuesday night, combining with relievers Ryan Atkinson and Michael Kohn on a seven-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over the Barons.

Jamie Westbrook started the scoring with a solo blast in the first inning and top catching prospect Daulton Varsho padded the lead by leaving the yard with a two-run shot in the sixth.

The Generals would notch another shutout Wednesday on their way out Birmingham. First baseman Pavin Smith hit his fourth home run of the year and drove in three runs in the 9-0 result. Starter Matt Peacock combined with Bud Jeter and Daniel Gibson on the eight-hit blanking.

All told, the Jackson pitching staff went 29 straight innings without allowing a run. That streak ended Thursday night when Pensacola got two runs in the sixth inning. The Blue Wahoos would win the game, 5-2.

D-backs top prospect Jazz Chisholm has struggled in 2019, but is starting to show some signs of snapping out of his funk. The 21-year-old Bahamian shortstop has hits in three of his last four games, clubbed his fifth homer of the season Saturday night in a loss to Pensacola and has his batting average up to a season-high .147.


Visalia Rawhide (High-A California League)

When Visalia beat Lancaster 6-5 on Saturday night, it notched its 14th consecutive win — a record winning streak for the 73-year-old organization. The streak was snapped Saturday night in the second game of a double-header with a 10-8 loss to Lancaster, but the Rawhide boast an 18-5 record — the second-best in all of Minor League Baseball. Only the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Washington Nationals, have a better record. They’re 18-4.

Luis Alejandro Basabe, a 22-year-old second baseman from Venezuela, launched a walk-off solo home run Monday night to lift the Rawhide to a 5-4 win over Stockton. Basabe, who was mired in a slump, has broken out in a big way, batting .478 (11-for-23) with two home runs and 10 RBI over his last nine games. Over that span, Basabe has raised his batting average from .156 to .291.

Justin Vernia, a 23-year-old right-hander, continues to mow down California League hitters. In his most recent start Wednesday, Vernia allowed just three hits and one run over seven innings while picking up his third win over the year and first for Visalia. In four starts, Vernia has posted a microscopic ERA of 0.82 over 21.2 innings while striking out 13 and walking only three. Undrafted out of Gonzaga in 2017, Vernia hooked on with the Sioux City Explorers of the independent American Association and went 15-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 26 starts over two seasons before being discovered by Arizona.


Kane County Cougars (Single-A Midwest League)

Justin Lewis, a 23-year-old right-hander out of Kentucky, was nails on Tuesday night. The 12th-round pick in 2018 went five shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out four in picking up his first professional win, a 4-0 decision over Burlington. Kenny Hernandez and Chester Pimentel combined on four innings of scoreless relief to lock up the win.

Two days later, lefty Bryan Valdez teamed with Ethan Larrison and Andy Toelken on another shutout win — this one a 7-0 finish over Cedar Rapids.

Kane County’s pitching staff has been lights out so far in 2019, posting a 2.09 team ERA through 23 games, easily the best mark in the Midwest League. The Cougars also have a league-high five shutout wins, and a combined no-hitter by Valdez, Toelken and Blake Workman in a 1-0 win over Quad Cities back on April 19.

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D-backs Farm Rumblings: Cron and Locastro dominating; Visalia rolling