Rookies benefiting from familiarity built into young D-backs clubhouse
Stone Garrett was relieved at the sight of familiar faces when he arrived in San Francisco on Aug. 17.
The Arizona Diamondbacks had just called the outfielder up from Triple-A Reno, and he was about to make his MLB debut against the Giants.
The D-backs are one of MLB’s youngest squads with rookie position players as of this weekend having totaled the second most games played in the league — behind the Pittsburgh Pirates — and Garrett already had friends in the clubhouse. That helped his transition.
“I’m not sure other teams have it this many guys who get called up during the season we’ve played with in Triple-A, but it’s been fun,” Garrett said. “You’re just not sitting in your hotel room on the road. You go get breakfast with the guys. It puts you at ease, for sure.”
Garrett spent most of the regular season in Reno, where he played with Alek Thomas, Corbin Carroll, Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson and Jake McCarthy, among others. Twelve members of the D-backs’ active roster spent non-rehab time in Reno this season.
Carroll also came up in August, less than two weeks after Garrett.
He noticed the lineup and told reporters that he had played with seven of the other eight players in it.
Carroll said having relationships and close friendships with the guys in the MLB locker room helped keep his debut day as normal as possible.
“Starting to establish those routines and those processes up here and introduce myself to the guys I don’t know,” Carroll said on his first day in the majors. “It helps a lot that I’ve played with I think everyone in the lineup except Emmanuel Rivera.”
There are so many young players on the team that rookies are showing rookies around, as Nelson did for Jameson after the latter got called up on Sept. 15, Jameson said on the Bally Sports Arizona broadcast.
Nelson had pitched in two MLB games.
There’s a built-in rapport with the young corps. A lot of them spent time together at Chase Field during the canceled 2020 MiLB season, plus they spent more time in spring training together as the major leaguers were locked out until mid-March this year.
With the influx of young talent showing positive signs in the majors, competition has been created. This is especially prevalent in the outfield and starting rotation.
General manager Mike Hazen said on an appearance on Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke in late August that competition has been lacking over the past couple of years but is what the organization wants in order to bring the most out of its players.
Assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye on Wolf & Luke last week said he has seen that spirit between Nelson and Jameson.
Nelson threw 13 scoreless innings to start his MLB career, although, he is now on the injured list. Nelson kicked off his big league career with 12 scoreless frames, but he came up just short of matching his friend’s mark.
“Nelly’s my boy. We went through the minors all together, we’ve been roommates since day one,” Jameson told reporters after his first start. “It’s special to see what he did. And then I come in and I try to up him, and that’s what we’ve done our whole minor league career. He goes out and shoves and I’m like, ‘Alright, I gotta one-up him up,’ or ‘I gotta do this.’ … that’s our relationship and we’re really close.”
Sawdaye said that fire helps them feed off one another. Veterans Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen talked about a similar dynamic between each other earlier this season.
The assistant GM said he can see a large percentage of young players make the Opening Day roster next year, but he noted they won’t be handed spots.
That edge will need to continue into the offseason.