Feature Photo: Daniel Wright, RHP, Reds
This week’s list of debuts stands at nine, pretty much the perfect number for a baseball-related website, right?
Tying in with that theme of nine, the debuts of Cincinnati Reds pitchers A.J. Morris and Daniel Wright now give the Reds NINE players who have made their major league debuts for that team since April. Tip of the hat to their scouting and player personnel departments. We may have to create a “Little Debbie” award for the team with the most debuts. (Hey, I like snack cakes, so sue me!)
On the other side of the debut coin, we still await a debut from the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals. Come on, guys! We KNOW you have talent on the farm!
American League Debuts
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Oklahoma City University).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA at Bowie (Double-A), fanning 25 while walking just eight in 26 IP, and allowing 22 hits in 18 games, all in relief.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Bowie May 24 to fill the spot left empty when LHP Brian Matusz was traded to the Braves.
DEBUT: May 26, in a 4-2 loss to the Astros. The second of four pitchers, he walked one and struck out three in 1.1 scoreless innings. Coming on to start the sixth, he struck out Colby Rasmus swinging, got Evan Gattis on a ground out and, after walking Tyler White on a full count, retired Luis Valbuena swinging to end the threat. In the seventh, he opened the inning by striking out Jason Castro looking before being relieved by Mychal Givens.
PLAYER NOTES: Tolliver technically signed with the Orioles as a minor league free agent on February 8 of this year, but since he re-upped with the O’s after having played with them since being drafted by them in 2009 with no break in between (other than his three months at liberty as a free agent), we’re leaving his “acquired” status as-is here. He has been a solid staple of the Orioles’ minor league bullpens where he has played, with a combined 3.19 ERA in 240 innings over six seasons when healthy. He missed all of 2012 due to shoulder surgery, but when healthy put up strong numbers at every stop, including a 2015 campaign at Bowie where he had a 2.91 ERA and struck out 61 batters in 5.2 IP, limiting Eastern League hitters to a .235 average.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 10th round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of Toledo).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .319 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and 13 steals at Round Rock (Triple-A), with 10 doubles, three triples and 27 runs scored, topped off by a .409 OBP and .550 SLG.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Round Rock May 23 when OF Shin-Soo Choo went on the 15-day DL.
DEBUT: May 23, in a 2-0 loss to the Angels. The starting left fielder, he batted eighth and went 0-for-2 before being pinch-hit for in the seventh inning by Ryan Rua. In his first at-bat against Angels starter Nick Tropeano, he reached base on an errant throw after grounding back to the mound and was picked off at first. In his second at-bat he struck out swinging.
PLAYER NOTES: Hoying was in his fourth year in a row at Round Rock when promoted, but had already arguably had good enough numbers in less than two months to qualify as a very solid season, period. A power prospect, he brought his average up over 100 points thus far in 2016. In ’15, Hoying batted .214 for the Express with 23 homers, 60 RBIs and 20 steals to go with 25 doubles after batting .271 there in ’14 with 26 homers, 78 RBIs, 20 steals and 33 doubles for a .517 SLG.
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/185 B/T: R/R BORN: December 5, 1989
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 34th round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Florida Atlantic University).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-0 with a 3.57 ERA in 14 games at Durham (Triple-A), collecting two saves and striking out 29 while walking six and giving up 23 hits in 22.2 IP.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Durham May 25 when IF Tim Beckham was sent down and 1B/OF Jake Goebbert was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: May 26, in a 9-1 loss to the Marlins. The second of four pitchers, he allowed three runs on six hits in two innings without walking or striking out a batter. Coming on for starter Drew Smyly to start the seventh inning, he induced groundouts from the first two batters he faced, Miguel Rojas and Jeff Mathis, before giving up his first hit, a single to right field by Adeiny Hechavarria, before retiring Martin Prado on another groundout. In the eighth, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto led things off with back-to-back singles. Ozuna then scored on a ground-rule double by Cole Gillespie. Chris Johnson and Derek Dietrich then delivered back-to-back run-scoring singles before Rojas grounded into a double play, and then Mathis lined out to end the inning.
PLAYER NOTES: A Florida native from New Port Richey, Garton climbed the Rays minor league ladder steadily, pitching up one level every year since 2012, and emerging as a reliable set-up man at every stop. At Montgomery (Double-A) in 2015 he went 6-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 41 games, fanning 70 in 61 innings while allowing just 44 hits and walking 32. Overall, in four-plus seasons, he combined to go 21-6 with a 2.69 composite ERA, striking out 236 while walking just 108 in 247.2 IP.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent on November 20, 2015. Originally drafted by the Indians in the 27th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (New Mexico State).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 games at Durham (Triple-A) with two saves, striking out 21 while walking eight and allowing 13 hits in 17.1 IP.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Durham on May 22 when RHP Steve Geltz was sent down.
DEBUT: May 24, in a 4-3 win over the Marlins. The third of five pitchers, he tossed two-thirds of an inning, striking out one. Coming on with one out in the sixth inning, in relief of reliever Enny Romero, Sturdevant struck out the first batter he faced, Adeiny Hechavarria, swinging and got Chris Johnson to ground out to third base to end the inning.
PLAYER NOTES: Sturdevant, whose fastball occasionally touches the three-digit mark, spent the majority of his career to this point with the Indians, posting a career 2.81 ERA over seven seasons and striking out 327 batters in 301 innings, while scattering 256 hits. He missed the 2013 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery, and saw only 36.2 IP of work in 2012. He showed he was back in 2014 when he combined between Akron (Double-A/Indians) and Columbus (Triple-A/Indians) for a 2.65 ERA in 46 games out of the pen, collecting eight saves and striking out 54 batters while walking 17 in 57.2 IP. Sturdevant served a 50-game suspension in 2015 for violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (amphetamines), posting a 3.16 ERA in 26 games at Columbus that summer and striking out 30 in 31.1 IP.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of Arkansas).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .309 with 10 homers, 28 RBIs and three steals at Omaha (Triple-A).
PROMOTED: Recalled from Omaha May 26 when 3B Mike Moustakas went on the 15-day DL.
DEBUT: May 27, in a 7-5 win against the White Sox. The starting DH, he batted eighth and went 1-for-3 with a double and a sac bunt. In the second inning, he struck out looking against starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, and then struck out swinging in the fifth. In the seventh, he doubled to left field and, in his final plate appearance in the eighth, his sac bunt moved runners to second and third to set up Paulo Orlando to score the Royals’ final run of the night.
PLAYER NOTES: Eibner had been the Houston Astros’ fourth-round pick out of The Woodlands (Texas) High School in 2007 but didn’t sign, opting instead to head to Arkansas to play his college ball. While his average did not rise above .250 in his first four pro seasons, he clicked in 2015 when he spent a full season at Omaha, hitting .303 with 19 homers and 81 RBIs along with 23 doubles before continuing to show a consistent and powerful bat back at Omaha to start ’16.
National League Debuts
ACQUIRED: Signed as an international free agent (Mexico) August 17, 2012.
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA in eight starts at Oklahoma City (Triple-A), striking out 44 while walking eight and allowing 24 hits in 41 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Oklahoma City May 27 when LHP Luis Avilan was sent down and RHP Yimi Garcia was shifted from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: May 27, in a 6-5 loss to the Mets. The starting pitcher, he did not factor in the decision, allowing three runs, all earned, on five hits over 2.2 IP, walking four and striking out three while also throwing a wild pitch. After striking out the first big league batter he faced, Curtis Granderson, looking, Urias gave up a double to left field by Asdrubal Cabrera. With David Wright at the plate, Urias uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Cabrera to move to third and, after a walk drawn by Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker doubled Cabrera in for the first run of the game. Juan Lagares followed with a single to center field, which scored Cespedes and Walker. Although Kevin Plawecki also singled, Eric Campbell’s line out ended the inning. In the third, with the Mets leading 3-1, Urias retired the first two batters he faced before Lagares singled and Plawecki and Campbell drew back-to-back walks, signaling the end of the night for Urias. Reliever Chris Hatcher came on and struck out opposing pitcher Jacob DeGrom swinging to end the inning and strand both runners.
PLAYER NOTES: Urias was riding a 27-inning scoreless streak at Oklahoma City when promoted to the Dodgers and, having been sent back to Oklahoma City following his debut, he has a chance to extend that before what is an inevitable return back to the big league club. The youngest player to start a game for the Dodgers since 1963, and the first teenager to do so since Fernando Valenzuela in 1980, Urias made his full-season pro debut at age 16 when he went 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA at Great Lakes (Class A) in 2013, striking out 67 batters in 54 innings over 18 starts. With tremendous control of three pitches, including a fastball in the middle 90s and a hellacious curveball as well as a changeup, he combined at four levels in 2015 (Rookie League Arizona, High A Rancho Cucamonga, Double-A Tulsa and Oklahoma City) to go 3-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 18 starts, fanning 88 while walking 22 in 80.1 IP. That season was abbreviated as he underwent elective cosmetic surgery on his left eye (three operations to remove a benign mass during his younger years had left the eye mostly closed, though the vision itself was unaffected). As a side note, he is also the first debutante this year whose last name begins with the letter “U.”
2080 NOTES: Coming in at a robust No. 6 on 2080 Baseball’s Preseason Top 125 Prospect Ranking List, contributor C.J. Wittmann had this to say about Urias: “With the Dodgers’ rotation plagued by injuries in 2015, we could see the young left-hander getting a look early in the season. With his advanced command and quality stuff, Urias should have no problem stepping up to the challenge.” In addition, you can read contributor Dave DeFreitas’ report on Urias here.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent on November 13, 2015. Originally drafted by the Orioles in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (University of California-Davis).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .391 with two homers, 15 RBIs and two steals in 35 games at Las Vegas (Triple-A) along with 12 doubles.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Las Vegas May 23 when INF/OF Lucas Duda went on the 15-day DL and LHP Dario Alvarez was designated for assignment.
DEBUT: May 24, in a 7-4 loss to the Nationals. The starting third baseman, he batted eighth and went 0-for-4, striking out three times.
PLAYER NOTES: In Kelly’s defense, he had the pleasure of making his big league debut against Nats ace Stephen Strasburg, who struck out 11 in just 6.2 IP of work. The well-traveled Kelly is now with his fifth organization, having started baseball life with the Orioles. He was traded on June 30, 2013 to the Mariners for outfielder Eric Thames, then dealt in November of 2014 to the Cardinals, and then claimed off of waivers in July of 2015 by the Blue Jays, before earning his free agency this past winter. He enjoyed his best power season in Tacoma (Triple-A/Mariners) in 2014 when he batted .263 with 15 homers and 80 RBIs in 134 games but came into this season off a rough 2015 where he combined to hit just .226 with three homers and 33 RBIs in 117 games between Memphis (Triple-A/Cardinals) and Buffalo (Triple-A/Blue Jays).
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent December 27, 2015. Originally drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Kansas State).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in nine games, six of them starts, at Louisville (Triple-A), striking out 21 and walking nine while allowing 32 hits in 30 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Louisville May 22 when RHPs Dayan Diaz and Josh Smith were brought up and RHPs Jumbo Diaz and Keyvius Sampson were sent down and RHP Steve Delabar was designated for assignment.
DEBUT: May 24, in an 8-2 loss to the Dodgers. The fourth of five pitchers, he allowed three runs, all earned, on one hit over two-thirds of an inning, walking three and striking out one. Coming in to start the eighth inning in relief of reliever Caleb Cotham, he got Carl Crawford to line out and struck out Yasmani Grandal swinging before walking Howie Kendrick, Chase Utley and Corey Seager (all on full counts) to load the bases. Justin Turner followed with a two-run single to center field at which point the last Reds pitcher of the night, Josh Smith, came on to relieve Morris and gave up a single to Adrian Gonzalez which allowed Seager to score.
PLAYER NOTES: The well-traveled Morris gets the call in his eighth pro season (in terms of time–he did not pitch at all in 2011) and by his fourth organization, just six months shy of his 30th birthday. Despite his reasonably high draft status, Morris has missed time with injuries, and did not make his Triple-A debut until 2014 where he went 2-4 with a 4.54 ERA in seven starts at Indianapolis (Pirates) just a few short months after being picked up for a song by Pittsburgh in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. The next summer, back at Indianapolis, he went 5-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 44 games, mostly in relief, striking out 72 and walking just 22 in 84.2 IP, which earned him that second look from the Nationals during the offseason. His baseball passport saw him dealt from the Nats to the Cubs on January 17, 2011, along with fellow prospects OF Michael Burgess and LHP Graham Hicks for LHP Tom Gorzelanny. Though he did not pitch in 2011, he posted a 2.24 ERA for Daytona (High A Cubs) with seven saves in 2012. Picked up by the Pirates following the 2013 campaign, he was granted his minor league free agency on November 6, 2015. Overall, Morris had a 3.22 ERA in 186 career games, striking out 375 batters and walking 147 over 472.1 IP.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Arkansas State).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 3-0 with an 0.79 ERA in 10 games, four of them starts, between Pensacola (Double-A) and Louisville (Triple-A), striking out 32 and walking just five while allowing 17 hits in 34 innings. At Pensacola he was 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA in eight games, including two starts, and at Louisville he was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts, one of them a complete game.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Louisville May 24 when OF Steve Selsky was sent down.
DEBUT: May 24, in an 8-2 loss to the Dodgers. The starting pitcher, he took the loss, allowing four runs, three of them earned, on seven hits in 5.1 IP, walking one and striking out four. The first three batters he faced in the first inning all singled — Chase Utley, Corey Seager and Justin Turner — with Turner driving in Utley for the game’s first run. Wright then settled down and struck out Adrian Gonzalez swinging, retired Trayce Thompson on a fly out and Joc Pederson lined out to end the inning. In the fourth, Thompson led off with a single to center and Pederson doubled him home, and subsequently stole third base, which allowed him to score on a throwing error by Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart. In the sixth inning, after Gonzalez grounded out, Thompson doubled which prompted the Reds to bring in reliever Dayan Diaz. After walking Pederson, Diaz gave up an RBI single to Yasiel Puig, which scored Thompson and closed the book on Wright.
PLAYER NOTES: Basically, if you need a starting pitcher and you have a guy dealing like Wright has been dealing these first several weeks of the season, how do you NOT bring him up? Wright brought a modest career 4.27 ERA into the 2016 campaign, after going 10-11 with a 4.53 ERA in 27 starts for the Blue Wahoos of Pensacola in 2015, striking out 130 and walking 47 while giving up 154 hits in 155 innings. In his first full season, 2014, he was a combined 14-7 between two Class A stops at Dayton and Bakersfield, fanning 141 while walking just 22 in 152.1 IP, giving up 141 hits.