Herrera has been around the Diamondbacks organization for a long time, having been signed out of Venezuela in 2013. He was regarded at that point as the top catcher in the international market, getting a seven-figure signing bonus, Normally, spending seven years without ever getting above High-A would not get you a spring invite. But Herrera only just turned 24 a couple of weeks ago, and the last time he played, for Visalia in 2019, he was below league average age. There is some baggage here, with a 50-game suspension handed down in April 2018, after Herrera tested positive for stimulants. I trust the relevant lessons have been learned.
Yes, that’s how he spells it. He’s a veteran with nine years MLB experience, having played mostly with the Tigers, but also the Marlins, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox. Though he has very much been a back-up, not reaching 175 PA in any season. He is also a bit of a pitcher, having made five appearances on the mound, with a not terrible 6.75 ERA. He was most recently seen there, finishing up a game for Baltimore against the Yankees on August 14 last year. In that appearance, he showcased a a 72.3 mph “heater”, to go along with a 60.7 mph knuckleball. Holaday even has a strikeout to his name, getting the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins to go down swinging, to end a 20-1 blowout loss as a Marlin.
Miroglio is a three-time draftee, having been picked by, but did not sign with, the A’s in 2013 and the Rays in 2016, before inking for the Diamondbacks as a 20th-round pick in 2017. Wesley interviewed Dominic the following July, but he hasn’t seen formal baseball since July 2019. He went on the IL at that point - not been able to find out why - missed the rest of the season, and of course 2020 was a write-off. However, before things shut down, he had been assigned by the team to the Reno Aces, so it seems possible he may end up there again, when the minor-league season starts (currently scheduled for May, but...).
You can never have too many catchers, so it’s no surprise the team’s first minor-league signing was in this department. Ritchie was part of the Houston Astros organization since the picked him in the 13th round of the 2014 draft. In 2019 was the everyday starter behind the plate for their AAA affiliate in Round Rock, where he played alongside now-Diamondback Josh Rojas. Ritchie batted .270 with five home-runs, though this was the PCL - for comparison. his OPS was about a hundred points below that of Rojas. But I’ll still be cheering for him, since Ritchie and I share a common heritage, with his father having been born in Scotland!
Ellis was picked by Arizona with #44 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and has been almost exclusively a third-baseman, making 253 of 259 starts at the hot corner. But beyond that, I will confess to not having been able to find out much about him. Michael did write about Ellis in January 2019, where he concluded the player’s upside “is that of an average regular at either corner infield position. Ultimately I think he ends up at 1B long term.” His line that year for AA Jackson was close to that in 2018 for High-A Visalia, but we’ll have to see how the lost season has affected him. With this being Eduardo Escobar’s last year under contract, Ellis could potentially be a replacement at third for 2022.
If Leyba (pictured, top) seems to be around every spring training... That’s because he has, having first shown up at Salt River Fields in 2015. After getting his feet wet in the majors in 2019, appearing in 21 games, he was expected to see more action last year. But that was derailed in early March, MLB handing down an 80-game suspension after Leyba tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid. That ban wiped out his whole year -
and I imagine, the first 20 games of this season [See the comments] His issue may have been a factor in why the D-backs were able to sneak him through waivers in November, taking him off the 40-man roster. His first step back is showing he’s worth a spot on it again.
Lopes was drafted back in 2011, but that was out of high-school - he’s still only 28. As a kid, his stock seems to have been pretty high, being named the national U-13 player of the year by National Youth Baseball. Even in September 2010, he was regarded as “a five-star Baseball America prospect”. But for whatever reason, he became a 7th round pick by the Blue Jays, and has yet to make the show, now after more than 3,500 minor-league PAs. In 2019, he split time between AA and AAA in the Rangers organization with a line of .265/.366/.422. His brother, Tim, was drafted in the sixth round the following year, and played in the majors for Seattle in 2019-20.
One of the best things about yesterday’s broadcast was hearing the Angels’ announcer tiptoe around the player’s surname, with a pregnant pause after “Juniel”. Per Baseball Reference, the pronunciation is yoo-nee-EL care-uh-KOO-toh. #TheMoreYouKnow Over his minor-league career, Querecuto has started at every position bar pitcher and catcher. Hell, in 2019, he started at seven different positions for Reno, perhaps making him the most versatile prospect Arizona has (though Daulton Varsho’s C/CF combo takes some beating!). Juniel has, however, primarily been a shortstop, and actually reached the majors with the Rays, playing four games with them back in 2016.
For completeness, I’ll tack Swarzak on here, as it was announced yesterday that he signed a minor-league deal with Arizona, and will join the team in spring training. As recently as the 2018 season, he was considered quite valuable, signing a two-year, $14 million deal with the Mets prior to that campaign. It didn’t work out and he was worth -0.4 bWAR over 2018-19, being traded first to the Mariners, then on to the Braves. Curiously, last year, he was released by the Phillies twice within a month. After the first time, on June 28, he re-signed with them on July 9, only to get the boot again 11 days later. No shortage of experience - he made his MLB debut in 2009 - but not sure how much he has left in the tank.