D-backs Farm Rumblings: Alek Thomas gains postseason hardware

Aug 26, 2019, 7:59 AM

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It was quite the week in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system.

Two affiliates — the Arizona League D-backs and the Dominican Summer League D-backs1 — concluded their seasons over the weekend, while several others are gearing up for postseason play shortly.

Here’s a quick look at everything going on down on the D-backs’ farm.

Reno Aces (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

For the week: 2-5
For the season: 61-71 (2nd place in Pacific Northern Division; 8.0 games behind Sacramento)

If there was a bright spot in Reno’s 10-4 loss to Las Vegas Tuesday, it was the performance of right-hander Jon Duplantier. The 25-year-old had a second-straight solid outing, pitching three perfect innings and striking out five before giving way to the bullpen. He needed only 38 pitches to record the nine outs and now has worked seven straight scoreless innings over his last two starts.

You’ve heard his voice on several Aces highlights in this very space. Now you can read more about the play-by-play voice in Reno, Ryan Radtke.

Last week, the headline of this column asked the question ‘when will Kevin Cron slow down?’ OK, so Cron didn’t homer this week (don’t blame me for the jinx), but he did have a triple Friday night — his first of the year and only the third in his highly productive minor league career.

Cron did get an honor from MLB Pipeline to start the week, however.

The Aces closed out the week with a stirring 10-9, 10-inning walk-off win over Salt Lake Sunday night. The Bees put up two runs in the top of the 10th, courtesy of Jared Walsh’s third home run of the night, to make the score 9-7. But the Aces would respond. Andy Young scored on an RBI groundout by Blake Swihart to make it a one-run game. Three batters later, Abraham Almonte, who previously had two home runs of his own, singled in Swihart to tie the contest. Two batters after that, Cron singled in Almonte to give the Aces the win.

Jackson Generals (Double-A Southern League)

For the week: 5-2
For the season: 36-24 (2nd place in North Division; 3.5 games behind Montgomery)

Ramon Hernandez’s three-run home run highlighted a five-run fifth inning in the Generals’ 6-5 win over Tennessee Monday night. All five runs scored after there were two outs in the inning. Daulton Varsho got the two-out rally started with a double and then he was knocked in by Pavin Smith’s RBI single. Seth Beer followed with a double to center that scored Smith, setting up Hernandez’s 11th home run of the season.

Jackson got a lights-out performance from a quintet of pitchers and just enough offense the very next night to beat Tennessee 2-0. Emilio Vargas got the start and allowed just one hit over three innings. Cole Stapler, Jayson McKinley, Ryan Atkinson and Miguel Aguilar kept the zero on the board over six strong innings of relief. Vargas has been outstanding over the last month. In fact, he’s 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA over 29 innings in his last five starts.

Varsho went 4-for-4 with a double and a home run helping the Generals to a 7-3, seven-inning win over Tennessee Wednesday night.

Right-hander Bo Takahashi got a taste of life in the Majors when he was called up to the D-backs last Sunday. However, he didn’t see any action for the big club and was sent back down to Jackson two days later. It didn’t affect his pitching though, as Takahashi went six innings, allowing just one run in a 3-2 loss to Pensacola Friday night. The 22-year-old has been steady all season long for the Generals, posting an 8-7 record with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.

Visalia Rawhide (High-A California League)

For the week: 3-3
For the season: 36-26 (1st place in North Division; 6.5 games ahead of Modesto and San Jose)

Justin Vernia was brilliant Monday night, yielding just one run and four hits while striking out eight over seven innings in Visalia’s 2-1 win over Stockton. Vernia, a 23-year-old right-hander, pushed his California League record to 7-2 on the season while winning his second consecutive start.

First baseman Yoel Yanqui had himself a night on Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with a home run, a triple and five RBIs in the Rawhide’s 12-4 pasting of Stockton. The 22-year-old Cuban has been on quite a tear as of late, hitting .529 (9-for-17) this past week to go along with two home runs and eight RBIs. He also led all D-backs minor leaguers with a 1.619 OPS this week. Yanqui will enter this week on an 11-game hitting streak, during which he’s raised his batting average from .246 to .275.

Shawn Roof, the manager of the Rawhide, was named the California League Manager of the Year. Yeah, having the best record in the league by a full five games will usually lead to good things.

Third baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe was also named to the California League Postseason All-Star Team. Basabe has slashed .293/.398/.394 with four home runs and 50 RBIs this season.

Kane County Cougars (Single-A Midwest League)

For the week: 4-3
For the season: 39-23 (1st place in Western Division; 1.0 game ahead of Clinton)

The Cougars rallied from four runs down with five in the eighth inning to steal a 9-8 win from Beloit Wednesday night. Keshawn Lynch started the scoring by getting plunked by a pitch with the bases juiced, forcing in Kristian Robinson to pull Kane County to within three runs. Tra Holmes then singled in David Garza and Nick Dalesandro to make it a one-run game. Zack Shannon followed with an RBI single to tie it and then Buddy Kennedy knocked in Holmes with a two-out single to give the Cougars the lead. Right-hander Kai-Wei Lin, who was brilliant in a four-inning relief stint, picked up the win.

Speaking of Lynch, the infielder was pressed into garbage-time pitching duty Saturday during an 8-2 loss to Quad Cities. Not only did he come away without giving up a run in the ninth inning, he pulled off a pretty convincing impression of Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel in the process.

Alek Thomas didn’t finish the year with the Cougars (he’s with Visalia now), but the D-backs’ prospect did enough good work in the Midwest League to be named MVP. Thomas slashed .312/.393/.479 with eight homers and 48 RBIs in 91 games with Kane County.

Robinson jacked a three-run shot to highlight a six-run third inning in Kane County’s 8-2 win over Quad Cities Sunday afternoon. Robinson, the D-backs’ No. 2 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, hasn’t fared great since getting the call-up to Kane County. The 18-year-old from the Bahamas is hitting just .185 (12-for-65) in 18 games with the Cougars, but did have two home runs and five RBIs on the week.

Hillsboro Hops (Short-Season-A Northwest League)

For the week: 5-2
For the season: 19-12 (1st place in South Division; 3.0 games ahead of Salem-Keizer)

Tristan English and Dominic Canzone each hit solo home runs while Conor Grammes and Marcos Tineo combined on a pitching gem in Hillsboro’s 5-0 win over Eugene on Tuesday night. Grammes, a fifth-round pick out of Xavier in June, started and went three shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out four. He handed things off to Tineo, who went the next six, striking out eight and allowing only two hits.

The next night, it was Tyler Holton and Nick Snyder’s turn to dominate on the mound. Holton, a 23-year-old lefty, started and went six shutout innings with 11 strikeouts. Snyder fanned six over the last three frames with six strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Eugene — the Hops’ second consecutive three-hit shutout. Andy Yerzy and Kevin Lachance each had two RBIs in the win for Hillsboro. Holton, whom the D-backs selected out of Florida State in the ninth round of the 2019 draft, has been rolling up strikeouts at an alarming rate with 28 over his last 16 innings of work. He’s issued only one base on balls in that same frame.

After pitching three games in the Arizona League, lefty Blake Walston got his first action in the Northwest League for the Hops Thursday night. Things went pretty well for the first-round pick, too.

Missoula Osprey (Rookie Pioneer League)

For the week: 4-6
For the season: 15-12 (2nd place in North Division; 5.0 games behind Billings)

The Osprey completed a shortened double-header sweep with a 1-0 win over Great Falls Monday night after winning the first game, 4-1. Missoula got its run in the bottom of the eighth inning when Carson Maxwell scored on a throwing error to give the Osprey a walk-off. Josh McMinn and Jhonny Valdez combined on the three-hit shutout, striking out 10 and walking only three.

Left-hander Pedro Zorrilla and right-hander Mitchell Stumpo combined on a one-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over Great Falls Friday night in the second game of a double-header. Zorrilla went the first six innings and allowed a single while striking out seven. Stumpo came in and worked the seventh, and although he walked two batters, retired the side for his fourth save of the year.

Friday’s double-header was necessitated by damage to Missoula’s home field at Ogren-Allegiance Park caused by rainy conditions and over 13,000 fans showing up for a Mumford & Sons concert.

In all, the Osprey played 10 games over the course of seven days, including double-dips on Monday, Friday and Sunday.

D-backs (Arizona Rookie League)

For the week: 3-4
For the season: Finished 26-30 (4th place overall in East Division)

D-backs pitchers combined to strike out 15 Angels in a convincing 7-1 win over the Angels Friday afternoon at Chase Field. Junior Mieses, a 19-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic, fanned six over four innings to get things started. Justin Martinez, an 18-year-old right-hander, then finished the game by ringing up six more over three innings for his first professional save.

The D-backs closed out the Arizona League slate with a wild 11-10 loss to the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark Sunday.

D-backs1 (Dominican Summer League)

For the week: 2-2
For the season: 29-41 (Finished season in 6th place in Baseball City Division; 17.5 games behind Reds)

The D-backs1 closed out their 2019 campaign with a 6-3 win over the Padres Saturday. Individually, the club was led by center fielder Jeferson Espinal, who batted .358 (67-for-187) on the season with two homers and 14 RBIs to go along with nine stolen bases. Third baseman Alexander Hernandez led the team with six homers in just 31 games — quite the accomplishment when you consider the D-backs1 had a total of only 13 round-trippers on the season. On the mound, 19-year-old right-hander Hamilton Andujar pitched well in 2019, going 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in 13 games (seven starts) and 44.2 innings. Fellow right-hander Rael Santos, an 18-year-old, was also solid in his second season in the Dominican Summer League, going 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.44 WHIP.

D-backs2 (Dominican Summer League)

For the week: 4-1
For the season: 44-26 (1st place in San Pedro Division; 3.5 games ahead of Phillies White)

Hernandez homered, his 10th of the year, in a 3-0 win over the Rangers2 Monday. Hernandez, a 20-year-old, is tied for second in the Dominican Summer League in homers.

Jheyson Perez, a 19-year-old right-hander, continued his dominance Wednesday in an 8-2 win over Phillies White. Perez allowed just one hit over four innings while striking out three. He’s now earned wins in five straight appearances and has a 1.42 ERA over that span with 28 strikeouts and only one walk. For the season, he’s 6-1 with a 2.81 ERA, a WHIP of 1.04 and 63 strikeouts in only 48 innings of work.

The D-backs2 take on the Reds, who with a 47-24 record, clinched the Baseball City Division, in the first round of the Dominican Summer League Playoffs starting Monday.

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