Left-handed reliever Rowland-Smith is perhaps the most interesting, not just because if he reaches the majors he'll be the first hyphenate to play for the Diamondbacks [I'm wondering if they're going to split his name over two lines on the back of his shirt...] Smith is an Aussie, born in Sydney, the city where the Diamondbacks will open the 2014 season next March, so I'm sure he'll be keen to make the most of his invite to spring training. He spent four years in the majors with Seattle, appearing in 115 games both out of the bullpen and as a starter, and putting up a 4.57 ERA. His last game was in 2010, and he's bounced around the minors with the Astros, Cubs and Red Sox since.
He was thoroughly dominating with Pawtucket for Boston last season, however, going 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 37 games. His WHIP was below one, and he had a K:BB ratio of 45:!5 in 52.2 innings of work. He might well have been called up to the big team, but he had to have emergency surgery for appendicitis in June: between him and Matt Stites, we seem to have something for acquiring relievers with this condition. Said Rowland-Smith, "I went to bed and woke up about 30 minutes later and was in pain. I was swollen and made it until the morning but when I called our trainer he just said ‘Hey, there’s something wrong.’ He got me to the hospital right away."
That kinda derailed his season, but he declined an August opt-out in his contract, hoping Boston would call him up. It never happened, and Rowland-Smith hit the free market. According to MLB Daily Dish, he had two other offers on the table before signing with Arizona. He doesn't appear to have huge platoon splits - his OPS vs. LHB the last two seasons were 28 and 47 points lower than vs. RHB - so seems more like a reliever who throws left-handed, than a strict LOOGY. The team probably signed him to reduce the risk of having to call up Joe Paterson... For those on The Twitter, Ryan is there, and you can certainly tell he's an Aussie from his most recent Tweet!
Love my neighbors reef shark off the back deck today pic.twitter.com/AVNHOna9vL— Ryan Rowland-Smith (@hyphen18) November 12, 2013
Matt Eddy of Baseball America Tweeted that we also signed outfielder Danny Dorn and catcher Mark Thomas. Dorn is a career minor-leaguer, who has spent the last five years in Triple-A, first with Cincinnati (who drafted him in 2006), then with Detroit. He showed decent pop last year for the Tigers, hitting 25 home-runs in 137 games with Toledo to earn a spot in the Triple-A All-Star game, and has a career .802 OPS at the AAA level. He's a left-hander who also played some first-base, he could possibly be insurance if we fail to sign anyone better - a bit like the Matt Tuiasosopo signing last winter, except from the other side of the plate.
The Thomas signing is perhaps morally problematic, because he just finished a 50-game suspension after failing a drugs test, the second time he had done so. However, the good news is, it was for a "drug of abuse" rather than PEDs: the former cover recreational drugs, according to MLB including, "cocaine, marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy and other opiates". So, phew: dodged a bullet there, it wasn't steroids, might only have been coke or smack. You are probably not the only one thinking what an odd world we live in, after that last sentence. The ban carries over to 2014, and means he'll miss the first ten games of next season.
On the playing front, Thomas is a relatively young 25-year-old, having been drafted out of high-school by the Tampa Rays, and has not yet played above the Double-A level. He had a pretty horrible season this year with the Montgomery Biscuits [yes: their mascot is a biscuit], and a line of .151/.195/.274, with 57 strikeouts in 186 at-bats, would probably be enough to make anyone turn to drugs. His career numbers are somewhat better at .242/.306/.381, but I wouldn't expect him even to challenge the likes of Tuffy Gosewisch for the third catcher's role in spring training next March.