The Arizona Diamondbacks’ 30-man Opening Day roster is stacked with former Reno Aces.
All 30 MLB teams formed a 30-man Opening Day rosters from their 60-player pools to gear up for the shortened 60-game regular season. Arizona’s 30-man squad features 10 players from last year’s Reno Aces team.
The Dbacks have built a talented farm system with plenty of talent at every minor-league level. Below is a list of 2019 Aces who will don the Sedona red this season.
Kevin Cron (1B)
Kevin Cron took the minor leagues by storm last season after his torrid offensive campaign with the Reno Aces. Cron, 27, led the minors with 39 home runs at a .777 slugging percentage — the highest mark MiLB has seen in 40 years.
Cron’s power carried over to Arizona with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 39 games last year. The Dbacks’ loaded infield didn’t offer many opportunities for the slugging first baseman to get consistent plate appearances, but that could change this season. MLB will institute the designated hitter into the National League, which Cron can take full advantage of.
Josh Rojas (OF)
It didn’t take long for Josh Rojas to make his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks last season. Rojas, 26, was one of four prospects involved in the Zack Grienke trade deadline deal to the Houston Astros. He appeared in just eight games with Triple-A Reno, batting .514 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.
Rojas was called up to the Dbacks on Aug. 12 and appeared in 41 games. His quick bat and defensive versatility in the infield or outfield gives Arizona some flexibility over the course of the year. He will primarily play left or right field and be relied upon as a fourth outfielder with solid contact at the plate.
Tim Locastro (OF)
Tim Locastro’s speed on the basepaths was on full display last season. The 28-year-old stole 24 bases in 31 games with Triple-A Reno. At the plate, he hit .301 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs.
Locastro appeared in 91 games with the Dbacks and racked up 17 stolen bags. His quickness can be utilized more than ever with MLB’s extra-innings rule that automatically puts a runner at second base. He may fill in as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but Locastro may be primarily used as an effective pinch runner in key situations.
Alex Young (LHP)
Alex Young was on a steady rise within Arizona’s farm system, and he finally had a chance to showcase his talent on the mound last season. Young, 26, appeared in 20 games with the Aces before making his MLB debut with the Dbacks on June 27.
Young finished the year with a 7-5 record and 3.56 ERA in 15 big league starts. Merrill Kelly will start the season as Arizona’s No. 5 starter along with Madison Bumgarner, Luke Weaver, Robbie Ray and Zac Gallen. If Kelly gets off to a slow start, Young can potentially take over in the rotation. The southpaw is equipped with a low-90s cutter and low-80s slider.
Kevin Ginkel (RHP)
Right-hander Kevin Ginkel made strides with Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Reno last season. He was an effective relief option in Reno with a 1.62 ERA and six saves in 15 appearances. Ginkel’s success translated to the major leagues. He racked up a 3-0 record and 1.48 ERA over 24.1 innings with Arizona.
The Dbacks’ bullpen saw an immediate boost with Ginkel, 26, toeing the rubber. He will be relied upon this season as a middle-inning relief option over the course of a 60-game season.
Stefan Crichton (RHP)
Stefan Crichton spent the last two seasons in Triple-A Reno. The right-hander had a 4-3 record and 3.61 ERA in 36 games last season. He appeared in 28 games with Arizona in 2019, finishing the year with a 3.56 ERA in 28 games over 30.1 innings.
Arizona’s pitching staff needs production throughout the year, and Crichton joins Ginkel as another effective righty coming out of the bullpen.
Ildemaro Vargas (INF)
Ildemaro “El Tigré” Vargas spent most of 2019 with the Diamondbacks, but the switch-hitting infielder etched his name into the Reno record books. He batted .403 with 50 hits over 28 games last year to become the Aces all-time hits leader.
Vargas has added some power at the plate over the summer scrimmages, and it may lead to an increased role with Arizona this season.
Taylor Clarke (RHP)
Taylor Clarke made his MLB debut with the Dbacks last season, finishing the year with a 5-5- record and 5.31 ERA in 23 games and 15 starts. He totaled eight starts with Triple-A Reno last season.
Clarke, 27, struggled during the summer scrimmages. He had trouble locating his off-speed pitches and he left several fastballs up in the zone. Clarke still has a solid repertoire that fits into Arizona’s bullpen.
Taylor Widener (RHP)
Taylor Widener was added to the Dbacks’ 40-man roster this offseason. In his first season at Triple-A Reno last season, Widener had an 8.10 ERA in 100 innings pitched. He led the Aces with six wins and 109 strikeouts.
Widener, 26, also struggled during the summer exhibition games. But the right-hander is equipped with a 94 mph fastball to compliment a hard-breaking slider and changeup.
Taxi Squad: Wyatt Mathisen (INF)
Wyatt Mathisen was added to the Dbacks’ taxi squad after he made the 40-man roster this offseason. Mathisen, 26, hit .283 with 23 homers and a 1.004 OPS in 87 games with Triple-A Reno last season.
The Corpus Christi, Texas native was battling a .183 slump to start the year. His left foot landed open and exposed in the batter’s box on his follow through. The minor difference in placement didn’t let him get the ball up in the air as much, often ending in hard-hit ground balls that couldn’t get past the infield.
But he fixed his compact right-handed stance in the box and batted .324 with 17 homers over May and June. His power at the plate opened eyes throughout the scrimmages, including an opposite field blast off fellow teammate Taylor Clarke.