I was thinking we might have a fifth one here, which would have balanced up nicely with the five from the first half. However, Collin Snider, placed on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster after the signing of Joc Pederson, failed to make it through to become a non-roster invitee. Snider was instead picked up off waivers by the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, which I guess makes this transaction the Snider Cut. [Random aside: while I can take or leave most of his stuff, I will defend the extended version of Sucker Punch to the death] That just leaves us with four right-handed pitchers to get through in this batch, making for a nice short installment over the weekend. I’m sure you all have better things to do too. :)
Christian Montes De Oca (80)
I’m not sure how we got MDO. Unlike most Dominican-born prospects, he doesn’t seem to have joined the club there. A player by that name was an honorable mention in the 2017 El Paso All-District 1-6A baseball team, which could match the time-frame (another D-back prospect, Ivan Melendez, was also listed). But he wasn’t drafted and doesn’t seem to have gone to college or even played indie ball. Instead, he signed as a free agent in late 2021 at age 22. MDO has moved quickly through the system, since debuting in April 2022 for the A-ball Visalia Rawhide. He ended last year in the Fall League where he had a 3.12 ERA over 8.2 innings. Michael talked to Christian there, noting his “mid-90s fastball and a big slider.”
Francisco Morales (67)
At one point, Morales was seen as a top international prospect, getting a $720K bonus when he signed with Philadelphia in 2017. The Venezuelan pitcher reached the majors, albeit briefly, in 2022 for them, getting three relief appearances. He also had a great Arizona Fall League performance that year, striking out 17 over 10.2 innings, and allowing only one unearned run. But he was taken off the 40-man roster that winter to make way for Craig Kimbrel, and released by the Phillies last July, due to the control issues which had long been a concern. He had walked 26 batters in 25.1 Triple-A innings, and the struggles continued this winter in the Venezuelan league, with eight walks in 5.2 innings.
Austin Pope (79)
It’s probably fair to say Pope has over-performed, considering he was a 15th-round pick by the D-backs, back in June 2019. Even then, Austin was selected out of Fairfield University, CT, which has produced just one MLB player in its history - and he was drafted back in 1979. Initially a starter, Pope moved to the bullpen in August 2021, just before moving up to High-A Visalia. Last year, he split time between Double- and Triple-A, and actually did better after his promotion to Reno, posting a 2.45 ERA over 22 IP there. The AFL was a bit of a mixed bag: he struck out 12 over 8.1 innings, but still had an 8.64 ERA. Again per Michael, he has “a mid-90s fastball with a lot of carry, a big breaking curveball in the low-80s, and a slider.”
Chris Rodriguez (59)
Rodriguez has the most major-league experience of this batch, having appeared 15 times for the 2021 Angels, including a pair of starts. He had a decent 3.64 ERA there, but has been plagued by health issues ever since. Chris had capsule repair surgery on his shoulder in November 2021, and has struggled to get back since then. He didn’t even take the mound in the minors until almost two years later, in September 2023, and then had a back problem which limited him to just 2.2 innings. The Angels finally DFA’d him in October; the D-backs picked Rodriguez up, then got him off the 40-man roster while prepping for the Rule 5 draft. Very obviously, health is the first thing he needs to prove come spring.