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Arizona Diamondbacks Minor-league Review: Mobile BayBears

The penultimate installment of our minor-league round-up sees us head for Double-A Mobile

MLB: All Star Game-All Star Futures Game
Anthony Banda throws in the 7th inning during the 2016 All Star Futures baseball game at PetCo.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The BayBears dipped below the .500 line this season, finishing 4.5 games below last season, at a final mark of 65-73. They were probably a bit unlucky to do so, having out-scored the opposition by 14 runs, with a Pythagorean mark of 71-67. They finished fifth in the ten-team Southern League for runs scored per game, and sixth for runs allowed, though did have the second-oldest pitching staff (the presence of Billy Buckner, now 33, probably helped!) . The BayBears did play solid defense, however, with only two teams committing fewer errors.

Looking back at our 2015 picks, both are names you should recognize: Socrates Brito and Braden Shipley, though neither had great seasons at the major-league level. Brito appeared in 40 games but hit under the "Discount Aisle at Wal-Mart" line, batting a buck seventy-nine, and may have fallen back down our outfield depth chart a bit. Shipley came in to the year as our top pitching prospect, but similarly struggled in the majors, going 4-5 with a 5.27 ERA. He’ll still be in the mix for a rotation spot next spring, but he needs to earn it on merit, and the SnakePit currently ranks him only Arizona’s #6 starter.

Who’ll be their replacements from the 2016 Mobile roster?

Hitting (min 200 PA)

  • Hits: Jamie Westbrook, 114
  • 2B: Westbrook, 21
  • 3B: Gabriel Guerrero, 5
  • HR: Kevin Cron, 26
  • RBI: Kevin Cron, 88
  • SB: Evan Marzilli, 11
  • BB: Marzilli, 56
  • SO: Cron, 134
  • BA: Travis Denker, .303
  • OBP: Denker, .416
  • SLG: Denker, .555
  • OPS: Denker, .971

Who is Travis Denker, and why have you never heard of him? The reason is because he’s not really a prospect. In fact, he’s older than everyone on the D-backs 40-man roster bar Zack Greinke and Tuffy Gosewisch, having turned 31 in August. He had 24 games for the Giants in 2008, but has otherwise spent 14 seasons bouncing around the minors and indy ball, totaling over 6,200 PAs there. His contract was bought from the enchantingly-named Laredo Lemurs in June and he certainly tore it up for the BayBears.

We’ll also skip over Mitch Haniger, who hit .294/.407/.462 to be second among qualifying hitters for Mobile, as we’ll be seeing him in the Reno edition. So the winner is Stewart Ijames, who follows those two with his .780 OPS in 87 games. Ijames is another "late bloomer" and indy ball pickup, having been signed out of there in 2014. He was drafted twice, in 2007 and 2010, but didn’t sign either time, then went undrafted in 2012. With the crowded state of the D-backs outfield, he’s going to have to showcase even more talent to make his way through the field. Oh, and in case you were wondering, it’s pronounced "Iams", like the pet-food!

Pitching (min. 30 IP)

  • Wins: Taylor Clarke + Johnny Omahen, 8
  • Losses: Yoan Lopez, 7
  • ERA: Matt Stites, 1.54
  • Sv: Stites, 15
  • K: Antony Banda, 84
  • BB: Omahen + Lopez, 32
  • WHIP: Stites, 1.024
  • K/9: Joey Krehbiel, 10.7
  • BB/9: Matt Koch, 1.6
  • K/BB: Cole Johnson, 4.00

The struggles of Lopez, with a K:BB of 36:32 have been well-documented, and it remains to be seen whether a total flame-out will follow. The much less-heralded Taylor Clarke, a 3rd-round pick in 2015 did much better, moving up from Kane County through Visalia to finish with a 3.59 ERA over 17 starts for Mobile. But the team’s best starter, and pitcher overall was Anthony Banda, who went 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA in his 13 starts for the BayBears. He moved up to Reno, and after a shaky first couple of outings, had a sub-three ERA over his final 11 for the Aces, and I would not be at all surprised if we saw him in the majors at some point in 2017.

Out of the bullpen, the best pitcher was also a name you might remember: Matt Stites, who appeared in 37 games for the D-backs in 2014, then all but imploded in 2015. Joey Krehbiel was a workhorse for the BayBears, playing 52 games and fanning 66 in 55.2 innings; he’s currently appearing in the Arizona Fall League. Left-hander Daniel Gibson allowed just one earned run over his 22.2 innings, though struggled with control after being promoted to AAA, walking 14 in 21 innings there. All told, five of the 33 pitchers Mobile used, also appeared for the D-backs this season: Vicente Campos, Zac Curtis, Zack Godley, Steve Hathaway and Matt Koch.

However, it was also the BayBears final season as a Diamondbacks affiliate. Mobile had been part of the Arizona farm system since 2007, and will now move over to the Angels organization for 2017. Our Double-A association next year will be with the Jackson Generals instead, and we look forward to covering them and their players in the coming seasons.