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Arizona Diamondbacks spring training: Names you might not know, non-roster pitchers, volume one

Continuing our look at the less well-known spring training players, these are some of the non-roster invitees who’ll be taking the mound.

Arizona Diamonbacks v Chicago White Sox

Ryan Atkinson (73)

Atkinson is another example of the D-backs finding value outside the mainstream. He went undrafted in 2015, then basically abandoned the game. But the baseball bug was only dormant. He went to an independent Frontier League tryout in June 2016, after only five days to prepare after not having picked up a ball for a year. He won a spot, but was in the league for barely a week before Arizona signed him. Atkinson saw action most recently in the Fall League, posting a 3.00 ERA over 21 innings, with a K:BB of 23:15. Fun fact: Ryan worked as a personal trainer and a patient services manager at a medical center, during his year out before rejoining the pro baseball world.

Jake Buchanan (67)

Buchanan has seen major-league action each of the past four seasons, with the Cubs and Astros, but only a total of 64.2 innings (4.73 ERA. 87 ERA+, 33:24 K:BB), and the majority of that back in 2014. He was picked up by the D-backs in July, and spent the second half of the year in Reno, where he had a respectable 4.26 ERA over 11 starts (38:9 K:BB in 61.1 IP). Jake played for the Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League, going 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA over five starts there. Fun fact: when the Reds claimed Buchanan off waivers in June, the player cut to make room for him was... Peter O’Brien (DFA’d four times in 2017, and currently a Dodger!).

Taylor Clarke (72)

Clarke was a third-round pick in 2015, and spent last year working in the rotations of both AAA Reno and AA Jackson. He started off with the Generals, and his 2.91 ERA there led to a promotion to the Aces in August. He got torched for eight earned runs in his debut there, but rebounded nicely, posting a 3.14 ERA over his remaining five outings for Reno while striking out better than a batter per inning. Fun fact: Clarke has already got his Tommy John out of the way, having had the procedure in January 2013. Many other fun facts about Taylor can be found in the SnakePit interview Michael did with him 12 months ago. :)

Joey Krehbiel (65)

Krehbiel followed a similar route to Clarke, spending most of the year in Double-A, before getting a late-season call-up to Triple-A. He had a very impressive strikeout rate across the two levels, of more than 12 per nine innings, though his walk rate (4.3) could do with some reduction. He also got his work in this winter, pitching like Buchanan in the Dominican, Joey being with the Tigres del Licey. He had a K:BB of 17:5 over 14 innings, with a 4.50 ERA. Fun fact: Came to the Diamondbacks from the Angels, in a June 2014 trade. We gave them Joe Thatcher and Tony Campana, receiving Krehbiel + Zach Borenstein

Yuhei Nakaushiro (64)

The sole left-hander in this batch, Nakaushiro will be looking to emulate his nickname: he was called the “Japanese Big Unit”. That’s partly for his delivery and slider (as seen below). But also reflects control issues, which led to 23 walks in 25.1 NPB innings, before he was released from his team there, the Chiba Lotte Marines. He reined that back to 3.6 walks per nine IP this year in AA and AAA, while fanning 8.6, so might have a shot at joining Yoshihisa Hirano in our bullpen this year. Fun fact: Was discovered by the D-backs following his appearance on a Japanese TV documentary about baseball players who had just been cut, though he had been on the team’s radar for some time.

Of late, there has been a sudden surge of other pitchers signed by the Diamondbacks to minor-league contracts with an invite to spring training. These include some names that are likely a bit more recognizable, such as Neftali Feliz, news of whose inking broke last night. But I think there’s enough of those for a volume two in this department!