With spring training approaching at a rate of arriving snowbirds, it’s time to learn a bit about the new and/or unknown players who’ll be part of the pre-season at Salt River Fields for the Diamondbacks. We’ll be covering all the players who did not appear for Arizona in 2017: they may have played for other teams, been in the minors or (in one case) not been on this continent, it doesn’t matter. Parts two and three will cover the pitchers and position players respectively among the non-roster invitees, but we start with those on the 40-man roster who qualify. Odds are, at least half of these will be on the Opening Day roster, so let’s meet them!
Brad Boxberger (31)
At the time of writing (mid-January), Boxberger was the product of the only significant trade pulled off by the Diamondbacks this year. He came from Tampa in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Curtis Taylor, and will potentially be in the mix for the closer’s role, as a replacement for Fernando Rodney. He saved 41 games for the Rays in 2015, but injury has limited him to fewer than 30 innings each of the last two years. But when healthy, he can be effective: last year, he had a 3.38 ERA (123 ERA+) with a 40:11 K:BB ratio in 29.1 innings. Fun fact: On May 8, 2014, Brad relieved David Price with the bases loaded, and struck out the next three batters on nine pitches.
Yoshihisa Hirano (66)
The first NPB player signed by Arizona, Hirano inked a two-year deal with the D-backs. He played for the Orix Buffaloes, who selected him with the #1 overall pick in the 2005 Japanese draft. In his time in Japan, he had a 3.10 ERA with a K:BB of 884:156, though the strikeout numbers had dipped a bit of late. Let’s hope Hirano does better than the last Japanese-born pitcher signed by Arizona (Takashi Saito, who threw 12 innings at a 6.75 ERA in 2012). He was part of the Japanese WBC team in 2016 - below, he’s in action against the Netherlands Fun fact: Hirano has faced Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani 15 times in Japan. Ohtani has just one hit and seven strikeouts.
Domingo Leyba (74)
Leyba’s 2017 campaign was severely limited by shoulder issues, which held him to less than a hundred PA. He suffered a small tear in his anterior capsule diving for a ball, which cost him the first two months, and his season ended in mid-July after shoulder surgery was needed. That will slow his potential arrival after batting .296 in 2016, though with Leyba still only being aged 22, time is on his side. Proving and sustaining his health will be key this season, though the team’s depth chart at shortstop is currently quite long. Fun fact: Leyba became a Diamondback in the 2014 trade of Didi Gregorius, coming from the Detroit Tigers, along with Robbie Ray.
Jared Miller (63)
Initially a starter, Miller transitioned to the bullpen in 2016, and has thrived there since. After a 2.93 ERA between Double- and Triple-A last year, and 94 K’s in 70.2 innings, doesn’t appear to have much more left to prove in the minors. Was added to the 40-man roster in November, and could well become a second left-hander in our bullpen this year, alongside Andrew Chafin. Be nice if he proves as successful as the other 6’7” left-handed MLB reliever named Miller. Fun fact: If you don’t know anything about Jared, you haven’t been paying attention, because the SnakePit had a two-part interview with him recently. So, plenty of fun facts to be found, here and here!
Albert Suárez (56)
Going to need to find the á key on my keyboard if Suárez sticks around [Alt+160 does the trick]. He was a Rule 5 pick from the Giants after SF non-tendered him at the start of December. As a result, Suarez needs to stick on the Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster all season, or be offered back to San Francisco. He made 12 starts and 28 relief appearances for them in 2016-17, his best start being against Arizona on July 3, 2016. But he’ll almost certainly be a bullpen candidate with the D-backs. Fun fact: his brother, Robert, is also a pitcher, and plays in Japan for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, but missed all of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.