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Diamondbacks Farm Round-Up 8/12: Bauer/Skaggs '12 - Yes We Can (Pitch)!

Note right off the bat: the title in no way intends to disparage the awesomeness of Jarrod Parker.  There just wasn't any news involving Parker to report, whereas Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs each made headlines in their own way.  For Bauer, it was that his promotion to Double-A Mobile became official, as the #3 overall pick in the 2011 draft will start for Mobile on Sunday.  For Skaggs, well, it was this:

Snakelet of the Day:

Tyler Skaggs (Double-A): 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 7:0 K:BB, HR, 5:7 GO:AO

Triple-A: Reno 3, New Orleans 5.  (66-53)  This Reno offense isn't what it used to be, and the pitching isn't too inspiring either (although Sam Demel threw a scoreless inning in this one with a strikeout and no walks).  There was one bright spot on the entire roster on Friday, as infielder Andy Tracy cranked a pair of solo home runs to account for two-thirds of the Aces' offensive production, while also drawing a walk.  Sure, Tracy is now 38 years old, but it appears that the guy can still hit Triple-A pitching with a blindfold on, now sporting a .417/.600/1.292 line in his last ten games - and yes, that's really his BA/OBP/SLG.

With Xavier Nady headed to the disabled list, Juan Miranda - who is already off the 40-man roster - hitting a wholly-uninspiring .269/.387/.500 for Reno (an .887 OPS in that league is nothing to brag about), Tracy owning .293/.402/.615 line with Reno, Geoff Blum still a ways away in returning from his injury, no inspiring options at Mobile that can play first base and provide power off the bench, and even a little extra Veteran Presence (TM) on his side, one has to wonder whether Tracy might be called up by the D-backs to back up Paul Goldschmidt.  Tracy would probably be a better fit than Nady anyway, as Tracy is a left-handed hitter with a pretty big platoon split, which actually compliments the right-handed-hitting Goldschmidt.  He's not a great option, as Reno's numbers are more inflated than Weird Al Yankovic's track suit... thing... in this utterly incredible music video that I can't believe I haven't watched in years, but unless Arizona takes to the waiver wire for a bench bat who can play first base, I don't see any other internal options would make more sense.

Double-A: Mobile 8, Mississippi 1.  (70-47)  Not only was Skaggs utterly phenomenal in his seven-inning crush-fest of the Mississippi Braves, but the solo home run he allowed that would be the only blemish on his night came with two outs in the seventh inning, to 25-year-old minor-league soldier Ernesto Mejia.  Skaggs could easily have gone deeper into this game, having needed just 77 pitches to breeze through seven innings, but he's likely on some sort of innings limit for the rest of the season.  After posting a 3.22 ERA in the Cal League through his first 100.2 innings in 2011, Skaggs' most recent outing with the BayBears lowered his Double-A ERA to 2.84, with a 40:9 K:BB ratio in 31.2 innings of work after making the toughest jump within the minor leagues.

Yes, I know he's 20 years old, and yes, I know he would have to be carefully monitored, but if Skaggs is the fifth-best pitcher in big-league Spring Training next year, I'm warming to the idea of getting the kid to the big leagues.  At some point, you simply have to admit to yourself that the kid has been so darned good that keeping him in the minors simply delays the value that you're going to get from him.  For instance, while it's hard to fault Tampa Bay for their development of pitchers, what on earth is Matt Moore doing still in Durham, where he's striking out ten batters in six shutout innings every night out?  Moore has nothing left to prove at Triple-A and probably could be a #2 starter in the major leagues (or better, frankly) tomorrow.

My point is this: if Skaggs can be a #3 starter in the major leagues on Opening Day, why make him waste the limited innings he'll throw in 2012 at Triple-A?  With Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter, and Wade Miley likely to give the D-backs enough innings to fill at least three regular rotation slots worth of work, why couldn't Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, and Jarrod Parker split the final two slots?  400 innings split between three guys would give Arizona plenty of value while even keeping a few extra innings left over for whoever doesn't make the club out of the chute to start the year getting in some work in the minors and filling a September bullpen role.  If Arizona keeps Skaggs' workload in the majors at around 150 innings - to help compensate for the extra stress of a big-league inning compared to a minor-league inning - I see little reason to expect that his future would be at risk.

Oh, right, the BayBears game... Daryle Ward and Ryan Wheeler each doubled for Mobile, with Wheeler adding a pair of walks to his phenomenal night at the plate.  A.J. Pollock also chipped in in a big way, knocking three singles and stealing his 29th base of the season.  Pollock's 29-34 stolen base success rate is a glistening 85.3%, which adds positive value to the club by nearly every imagined break-even benchmark that has been created.  Pollock is the leadoff hitter that the D-backs are pretending that Willie Bloomquist is.  The way he's hitting right now really does provide a big what-if scenario from when he was initially drafted, as numerous scouts felt that he would make a fine second baseman.  It would be awfully convenient if Pollock were ready to step into Kelly Johnson's vacated position in 2012.  Still, if Pollock finds a way to hit, the D-backs will hopefully find a way to get him playing time in the major leagues.

Hi-A (12 innings): Visalia 4, Inland Empire 3.  (54-63)  The Visalia offense came through when it counted in this game, as a two-out three-run home run by Rossmel Perez in the seventh brought Visalia back from a 2-0 deficit, which allowed Alfredo Marte, the first hitter in the bottom of the twelfth inning, the opportunity to deposit his fifth home run of the year in the seats for a walk-off win.  Perez had a two-hit night while Marte also drew a walk, and Bobby Borchering whacked a pair of doubles to help out the Visalia offense.  Starter Eric Smith was lucky to keep the game so close, as his control was a mess on Friday, walking seven batters in just five innings.  However, Smith allowed just two hits and struck out four to keep the damage to a minimum, allowing just two runs in his outing.  The Rawhide bullpen came through in a big way, striking out 11 and allowing just one walk and two hits - including a homer - in seven one-run innings of relief.

Low-A: South Bend 2, Lansing 6.  (55-61)  Starter Jeffrey Shields and the South Bend pitching staff ran into a pair of buzzsaws in the Lansing lineup: center fielder Jake Marisnick and catcher Jack Murphy.  Marisnick, a toolsy stud outfield prospect, went 4-5 with a home run to lead off the game, while Murphy finished 3-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk.  Add in a homer from shortstop Garis Pena and this one simply wasn't a good outing from Shields, who gave up six runs in 4.2 innings.  The offense didn't do much, either, as Matt Helm's double was the only extra-base hit the bats tallied and the Silver Hawks had just eight baserunners all game.

Short-Season-A: Yakima 5, Vancouver 4.  (20-35)  Starter Alex Capaul ran into some trouble in his 5.2-inning outing, allowing four doubles among eight hits, posting a 1:1 K:BB ratio and surrendering four runs, although two were unearned.  Big credit, however, goes out to the Yakima bullpen, and Justin Albert in particular.  Albert came on for 2.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief, striking out five.  That gave the Bears offense to come back for the win, led by a two-homer day from outfielder Justin Hilt, as well as a three-hit day from Jimmy Comerota.

Advanced-Rookie: Missoula 4, Helena 6.  (32-19)  The Osprey received yet another well-balanced power supply, getting doubles from Eric Groff and Stephen Cardullo, a triple from Ty Linton, and a home run from big Jonathan Griffin, his 12th of his pro debut.  That was more than enough support for starter Robby Rowland, who gave up two runs in his five innings of work, posting an impressive 7:1 K:BB ratio and 5:0 GO:AO ratio, but it didn't prove to be enough for the Osprey defense.  Reliever Seth Simmons allowed four runs, all unearned, in his two innings of relief, giving up the game to the Brewers.

Low-Rookie: D-backs 7, A's 11.  (-)  Things went downhill quickly for D-backs starter Blake Perry, who allowed eight runs in 3.2 innings on the mound, including a six-run first inning.  Perry's 4:2 K:BB ratio isn't terrible, but if the nine hits allowed are factored, that's not a staggeringly impressive strikeout percentage.  On the bright side, the D-backs offense certainly didn't take the night off: John Leonard, Ed Rogers, and Joseph Weik each doubled, Socrates Brito tripled, and Derek Luciano homered.  However, the best offensive production of the night for the AZL club, and probably for the entire D-backs farm system as well, goes to Wagner Mateo, who cranked a two-run home run and drew four walks to wrap up a nearly perfect night at the plate.