The San Diego Padres claimed former Reno Aces outfielder Socrates Brito off of waivers Wednesday.
Brito, 26, was out of minor league options and when he failed to make Arizona Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster, he was placed on waivers on Tuesday. A former standout with the Reno Aces, the left-handed batting Brito hit just .167 in 54 at-bats in spring training with the Dbacks.
Meanwhile, former Aces Christian Walker, a first baseman, and infielder Ildemaro Vargas appear that they will start the season with the big-league team.
The switching-hitting Vargas was promoted back to the Dbacks’ on Tuesday, March 26, reported Zach Buchanan of the Athletic.
Before his return to the Biggest Little City, Vargas, 27, hit .367 with 22 hits and a team-leading 11 RBIs with the Dbacks in spring training.
Vargas was named to the All-PCL team and PCL all-star team with the Aces last season. Nicknamed “El Tigre,” Vargas’ .311 batting average complemented his .977 fielding percentage. He had a franchise-record 35-game hit streak with the Aces last season.
Arizona outfielder Steven Souza Jr. suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee just hours after Brito was waived. If no team claimed Brito after three days, Arizona could have brought him back or assigned him to Reno.
Souza tore his ACL, LCL and suffered a partial PCL tear when he slipped on home plate during an exhibition game with the White Sox. Sousa’s misfortune appears to have opened a spot for Vargas, who had been optioned to Triple-A Reno on March 24. Vargas has two years of minor league options remaining.
The Dbacks have not released its opening day 25-man roster when they play at the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Souza’s absence gives the Dbacks defined roles in the outfield. Former Oriole and five-time all-star Adam Jones, who was signed as a free agent this spring, is expected to play right field. Ketel Marte, last year’s second baseman, will start in center. David Peralta will remain as the starter in left.
Brito sported a career .303 batting average with 28 homers, 152 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 265 games with the Triple-A Aces. The Dominican Republic native was named to the 2018 Pacific Coast League All-Star team and he appeared in 24 games with the Dbacks last season.
The smooth-swinging outfielder has played his entire career with the Dbacks’ organization and started out in their Dominican Summer League Team in 2010. Brito worked his way through the ranks and garnered much praise as a highly touted prospect in Arizona’s farm system.
Brito made his big-league debut toward the end of the 2015 season with the Dbacks and earned a selection to the MLB Futures Game.
“The Futures Game was a great opportunity for me,” he told Tahoe Onstage last season. “It made me think I’m one step away from the majors. And when I came back into the league it made me more hungry to adjust in order to make it.”
Battling injuries and slumps at the plate, Brito failed to make an impact in Arizona. He underwent season ending surgery in 2017 to repair a dislocated finger. Brito batted just .202 with 34 hits in 82 games with the big-league club.
The elevation in downtown Reno suited the left-handed Brito. The wind blowing toward right field at Greater Nevada field helped carry the ball over the opposing team’s bullpen. Brito hit a career-high 17 home runs with the Aces last season, nine of which were in the Biggest Little City.
Aces fans will miss Brito in the outfield this season. Newly acquired outfielders Abraham Almonte and Matt Szczur have played a combined 715 games in the majors. Yasmany Tomas played mostly in left field last season, although he played several games at first base with the Dbacks this spring. The Havana, Cuba native hit .262 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs with Reno last season. Tomas has two years and $32 million left on his six-year $68.5 million contract he signed with Arizona in 2014. He hit .448 with five doubles and seven RBIs in 29 games with Arizona this spring but apparently is considered too much of a defensive liability to stick with the National League team.
The Aces open the season on the road, playing April 4-8 at Fresno. A seven-game home stand begins at Greater Nevada Field on April 9 with a game against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
— Isaiah Burrows
Editor’s note: Christian Walker celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday by getting the start at first base in Arizona’s season opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Walker went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run.