The Reno Aces’ ace pitcher from a year ago gets the start Thursday in Fresno in the opening game of the 2019 season. A 27-year-old right-hander, Taylor Clarke led the team in wins with 13 and a franchise-record 125 strikeouts for the Triple-A squad. His competitiveness is his strength.
“He has that look about him that says, ‘No one is going to beat me,’ ” said Aces first-year pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru, who has been with the
Arizona Diamondbacks organization nine years as a coach and a player. “Nothing really jumps out at you, but (Clarke) has four pitches that he throws for strikes and he has plenty of ‘velo’ (velocity).”
Pitching and experience should be strength’s for Reno this season. Clarke, along with Taylor Widener and Joel Payamps, a pair of 24-year-old right-handers who pitched at Double-A Jackson last season, will front the starting staff. Jimmie Sherfy, who has a franchise-high 47 saves, will be the closer as long as he’s in Reno.
Sherfy had 1.65 ERA in 15 games with the Dbacks last season but failed to stick with the big club in spring training. He said he wants to become more aggressive.
“When I was up there in the spring, I wasn’t really attacking the zone that much, and was kind of shying away from contact,” he said. “When I went down, I said, ‘Let’s attack the zone. Let’s induce contact.’ ”
Sherfy is one of 10 Aces who have Major League experience.
First-year manager Chris Cron likes the make-up of his team.
“We have a group that really gets along well,” he said. “They have a good clubhouse presence. They like each other. They hang out together off the field. They’ve done a little bit of that in spring training. They feel like they want to have fun and that’s right up my alley. I am going to promote that.”
Cron is the father of Kevin Cron, who played first and third base for Reno last year, batting .309 and leading the club with 22 home runs and 97 RBIs.
“It’s a father’s dream,” Chris Cron said about coaching his son. “I’m not sure there’s been too many people in my situation.”
How does his Kevin Cron describe it?
“You could use the word weird,” he said. “You could use a number of adjectives. Weird. Cool. Interesting. If nothing else, I’m going to feel comfortable around the manager. I am not going to have to get to know him. He’s the guy, outside of myself, who knows me as a baseball player the best.”
After five games in Fresno, the affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the Aces will have their home opener at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday, April 9. That starts a seven-game homestand against Albuquerque and El Paso.
The Aces games will be aired on free online radio at this LINK. First pitch tonight at 7:05 p.m.
— Tim Parsons
Notes: The Fresno Grizzlies will start 27-year-old right-hander Kyle McCowin, a strikeout specialist who played five games last year with the parent club, Washington Nationals, including one start. … A third-round pick by Arizona in 2015, Clarke was 13-8 last season with a 4.03 ERA. He fanned 125 and had 44 walks in 152 innings. … The Houston Astros have moved their Triple-A affiliate to Round Rock, Texas, after four seasons at Fresno. … Chris Cron is the fourth manager in 11 seasons of “Aceball.” … Last year’s manager, Greg Gross, remains with the team as a bench coach. … Former Ace Socrates Brito is now playing with the Toronto Blue Jays. … The first 1,000 fans at Tuesday’s home opener at Greater Nevada Field will receive an Aces’ magnet schedule. Former “Bachelorette” contestants Diggy Moreland and James Taylor will be in attendance and will meet fans on the concourse. …