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Diamondbacks non-roster invitees, part 2: Left-handed pitchers and catchers

Oliver Perez is the not only former D-back making a return to the desert...

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Left-handed pitchers

Miguel Aguilar [reassigned to minor-league camp, 3/24]

We start with someone who should be known, at least for his first appearance. He made his MLB debut last year a couple of months short of his 30th birthday, entering against the Dodgers with the tying run on third and no outs, but retired Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Corey Seager to strand the runner. But it was kinda downhill after that, as he ended the year with a 6.43 ERA over his seven innings. He was taken off the 40-man roster on November 19, and with the bullpen being one of the main areas strengthened by Mike Hazen, now likely finds himself further down the depth chart than he was at the end of the season. Fun fact: 3rd-oldest pitching debutant in team history, behind Yoshihisa Hirano and Matt Buschmann

Junior Garcia [reassigned to minor-league camp, 3/24]

This will be his tenth season in the minor leagues, though Garcia is still only aged 26, having signed with the Astros when still in his teens. He made it to Triple-A for the first time last year, and did pretty well in the offense-heavy PCL. Garcia posted a 3.94 ERA over 32 innings of work for the Reno Aces, with a K:BB there of 31:17. For comparison, the team ERA was 6.29. He has an Olympic medal, having been part of the Dominican Republic roster which won bronze in Tokyo last year. Garcia threw a scoreless inning in their 3-1 loss to Team USA. Fun fact: Became a D-back in August 2015, after being traded from Houston in exchange for... Oliver Perez!

Yorvin Pantoja [reassigned to minor-league camp, 3/18]

Yorvin, we hardly knew ye:

  • March 15: Arizona Diamondbacks signed free agent LHP Yorvin Pantoja to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
  • March 18: Reassigned the following to Minor League camp: LHP Yorvin Pantoja

Oh, well. For the record, the 24-year-old Venezuelan was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox. He had spent his entire minor-league career with them, until electing free agency on November 7. He had a 3.71 ERA across 2015-21, and spent last year in High-A. There, Pantoja had a 4.83 ERA across 50.1 innings, with a pretty decent K:BB of 73:17. Fun fact: Is on Twitter, but has never Tweeted and has precisely one follower, apparently his agent.

Oliver Perez

Returns to the Diamondbacks for his second stint, having pitched for the team in 2014 and 2015, before (as noted above) being traded to Houston. Has played for eight different franchises, reaching the post-season with four of them, most recently the 2020 Indians. It was reported last month he’d be retiring at the end of the Mexican League season, after playing for the Toros de Tijuana. But it seems something was lost in translation, or perhaps the subsequent end of the lockout changed his mind, and he signed with Arizona on March 21. Fun fact: Pretty sure he’s the only active guy who was in pro-ball pre-Y2K, since he debuted in the Padres system in 1999. Even Albert Pujols didn’t start until 2000.

Catchers

Juan Centeno [reassigned to minor-league camp, 3/24]

The 32-year-old has a bit of major-league experience, having played parts of seven years in the majors. Though he last did so in 2019, and just once (2016 with the Twins) has he had more than 60 PA in a season. His career OPS+ is 63, and doesn’t have much power, with just 13 home-runs in 719 minor-league games. His reputation seems more on the defensive side, with a career 35% caught stealing rate, across both the majors and minors. Might have a shot as backup to Carson Kelly, depending on whether or not the team wants to use Daulton Varsho behind the plate. Fun fact: Centeno was the first catcher ever to throw out Billy Hamilton stealing a base.

Juan Graterol

Similarly to Centeno, Graterol hasn’t been seen in the majors since 2019. He was also fringey even when he was, with only 129 PA across four years. It is actually his second stint with the Diamondbacks, having been claimed off waivers on Christmas Eve 2016. However, he was deemed surplus to requirements when the team signed Chris Iannetta less than three weeks later. That winter, he was designated for assignment on five different occasions - including twice by the Angels. Such is the life of a journeyman backup catcher, I guess. The 32-year-old Venezuelan is still looking for his first major-league home-run. Fun fact: Here’s a video from 2016 of him discussing the fundamentals of throwing out runners.

Grayson Greiner

He is the most experienced in terms of major-league PAs of the three catchers here, and the former 3rd-round draft pick did play last year, appearing 31 times for the Tigers. Over his 137 MLB games, he has a 57 OPS+. In 2019, he took over as Detroit’s everyday catcher, replacing James McCann, but a back strain ended that. He was taken off the 40-man roster by Detroit in November last year, perhaps because he had become arbitration eligible. Greiner elected free agency, from where the D-backs signed him to a minor-league contract on March 15. Fun fact: Listed at 6’6”, Greiner is tied as the tallest catcher ever to appear in the majors, and is the first of that height since Pete Koegel in 1971.