Diamondbacks call up Cristian Mena for MLB debut, start vs. Dodgers

Jul 3, 2024, 2:50 PM

Cristian Mena...

Pitcher Cristian Mena of the Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training at Salt River Fields. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

The Arizona Diamondbacks called up pitching prospect Cristian Mena from the Triple-A Reno Aces to start Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers for his MLB debut.

Additionally, Arizona optioned relief pitcher Gavin Hollowell to Reno.

In 82.2 innings this year in Reno, Mena has a 4.90 ERA and 89 strikeouts across 16 starts.

At only 21 years old, Mena is the youngest player on the D-backs’ 40-man roster by five months. He was in the D-backs’ clubhouse Tuesday, and manager Torey Lovullo said his impending call-up was a poorly kept secret.

“He’s here and we feel like if that does come up tomorrow, he deserves the opportunity,” Lovullo said. “He is continuing to grow and learn. He’s a young starting pitcher. He’s had a lot of really good moments. We feel like he can change speeds, work the ball around the zone and follow a game plan. That’s the most important thing to us.”

Mena is ranked as Arizona’s No. 11 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s rankings.

The Diamondbacks acquired Mena from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfielder Dominic Fletcher in February.

Last year in 27 starts between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, Mena went 8-7 with a 4.85 ERA in 133.2 innings.

“What’s been working for him in Reno is he’s got two plus breaking balls, a big sweeping slider and a power curveball up to 87 mph,” Aces pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru told Arizona Sports in June. “The slider is the same at like 85-87 mph but they do two different things and that gets him a lot of swing-and-miss.”

Mena also had 156 strikeouts, 64 walks, a 1.41 WHIP and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings last season. He spent three seasons in Chicago’s organization and was the White Sox’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Mena signed as an international free agent in July 2019 when he was 16 out of San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic.

The D-backs (41-44) enter play Wednesday 3.0 games out of the final NL Wild Card spot behind the St. Louis Cardinals (43-40).

The D-backs claimed Hollowell off waivers from the Colorado Rockies on June 18. He has thrown 3.2 scoreless innings with Triple-A Reno since the move.

Hollowell was recalled Tuesday but did not appear for Arizona before being sent back down.

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