clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Your Guide to 2023 D-backs non-roster invitees, part 3

Left-handed pitchers and catchers, for your consideration

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Left-handed pitchers
Jesse Biddle (97)

We already wrote about the signing of Biddle when it happened, so I can largely refer you to that for an introduction to the player, who spent last year pitching for the Orix Buffaloes over in Japan. On that basis, he could be described as a left-handed version of Scott McGough, though realistically “...if you ordered McGough on” might need to be tacked onto the end of that, to keep expectations managed. Certainly, and ERA above five in his hundred innings of MLB work through the end of 2021, explain why he had to find work on the other side of the Pacific. Fun fact: he’s very distantly related to bassist Owen Biddle of hip-hop group The Roots.

Sam Clay (46)

A fourth-round draft pick in 2014, it took Clay seven years to reach the majors, which he did only after the team who drafted him (the Twins) let him go. He was a fixture in the Nationals bullpen of 2021, but was unable to stick with the team last year, being DFA’d in July, and being picked off waivers twice within a week, first by the Phillies, then the Mets. He only saw 5.1 innings of MLB action in 2022, but managed to hit four batters and walk four more. Being a left-hander, the arrival of Andrew Chafin pushes him down the depth-chart there, but he does have the ability to generate ground-balls with his sinker. Clay also has an option available, so could offer some bullpen depth.

Tyler Gilbert (49)

Ah, the rise and fall of Gilbert. After working as an electrician with his father when the 2020 minor-league season was canceled, he was selected by the team in the minor-league section of the Rule 5 draft that winter. Then, on August 14, 2021, I need hardly remind you that Gilbert threw only the third no-hitter in franchise history, and the first by a D-back at home. Now, his star has faded again, and Tyler has dropped off the 40-man roster entirely, having been designated for assignment on December 15. Gilbert then cleared waivers, so we’ll see what happens. I think it’s safe to say he’s now quite a way down the team’s depth chart as a starting pitcher: certainly no higher than ninth, I would estimate.

Blake Walston (87)

Walston was selected 26th overall in the 2019 draft, the second of four Diamondbacks picks in the first round that year. The youngest of the four, his progress has obviously been a little more measured, and he spent most of last year in the pitchers’ hell which is Double-A Amarillo. He had a Game Score of -4 for his July 13 outing, allowing 10 earned runs in 3.1 innings, but really turned things around thereafter. Over his final 10 starts, Walston posted a 2.89 ERA with a K:BB of 60:17 over 56 frames, despite being three and a half years younger than the average player in the league. Spring 2023 will be valuable experience: if he can sustain that second-half pace, spring 2024 could see him contending for a rotation spot.

Juan Centeno (56)

Centeno debuted back in 2013, but a decade later, he has only slightly over two years service time, so won’t be arbitration eligible until next year. That gives you an idea of his limited playing time: only once has he reached even 60 PA in a season, and was last seen in the majors in September 2019. Since then he has bounced around between the Red Sox and Tigers, before signing with the D-backs last winter. He spent most of 2022 as a veteran presence in Double-A Amarillo. He’s now 33, and you imagine his role this season is going to be something similar, working with the young pitchers in the minors, most likely back in Amarillo.

P.J. Higgins (96)

Although Jose Herrera is on the 40-man roster, it’s possible that Higgins could end up being the third-string catcher this year. He saw a fair bit of action with the Cubs last year, appearing in 74 games, and didn’t disgrace himself at the plate, with an OPS+ of 95. That’s certainly an improvement over Herrera’s 33 OPS+ for 2022, and is impressive considering that Higging had Tommy John surgery for a partially torn UCI in his right arm, in July 2021. Jose is younger though - he’ll turn 26 on Friday, while P.J. has his 30th birthday in May. He is probably better with the bat, but less effective defensively than Herrera, so which way the team goes, may well depend on which they value more at the time.

Dominic Miroglio (59)

It has been a slow climb up the farm system for Mirogliao, since he was picked in the 20th round of the 2017 draft by the D-backs. Last year was his first time appearing above Double-A, playing 63 games - mostly at catcher, but also at first-base - for the Reno Aces. He had an .823 OPS there, which was slightly better than team average (.803). Reno adjustment applies, of course. Above are some highlights from his season, as well as him confessing his love for... Nickelback. Let’s not hold that again him though. :) He’ll be taking part in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, as part of the Italian roster which will be playing in Taiwan, so will miss a chunk of spring training.

Ali Sánchez (41)

He was picked off waivers from the Pirates in December, the D-backs becoming Ali’s four organization of 2022. At the time, it seemed possible Sánchez could be the backup at catcher to Carson Kelly. However, later that month, the team acquired Gabriel Moreno from the Blue Jays, and Sánchez ended up losing his 40-man roster spot as a result. If he’s to see playing time, he’ll now have to fight with the others in this category, and show that he is worth replacing someone on the 40-man roster - that’s a considerably tougher climb. The team did manage to get him through waivers unclaimed, so this glove-first catcher stayed with the organization and will likely begin the year with Reno.