The Arizona Diamondbacks are running out of options when it comes to their Triple-A affiliate Reno Aces.
Various Aces sluggers and pitchers, including first baseman Christian Walker and hurlers Braden Shipley and Jimmie Sherfy, are in the third and final year of their unlimited minor-league options with Arizona. Next year, the Diamondbacks will face tough decisions on the prospects, who will be free agents if they don’t make the 25-man roster. But this season, the trio might build up frequent flyer miles on trips back and forth from Reno and Phoenix.
An option allows a Major League Baseball organization to send a player on the 25-man roster to the minor leagues without being placed on waivers. A waiver is when an opposing Major League team can purchase the contract of the player. All players within an organization receive three minor league options in their career. When a player is optioned from the big leagues, an option has been spent. When a player is out of options, he either is permanently placed on the 25-man big league roster or designated for assignment and placed on waivers, where he can be claimed by another team.
“I know their ultimate goal is getting to the big leagues,” Aces’ skipper Greg Gross said. “But the guys here have been keeping their heads up and are focused on contributing to what’s going on here.”
The D-backs have used these tactics to full effect on Walker. The 2016 PCL MVP was recalled to the desert on April 8 and optioned back down to Reno on May 3. Walker was once again recalled May 15 and optioned just three days later on May 18. In that span, Walker, 27, hit.125 with a homer and 2 RBIs.
“With Christian, I think it’s a matter of him finding his swing and getting some more at-bats once he gets called back up,” Gross said. “I think it’s really important for him to make the adjustments necessary at the plate down here. That way he can gain some more confidence in his next stint over in Arizona.”
Before his departure to Arizona on May 5, Shipley led the Aces with 28 strikeouts. Shoulder inflammation placed The UNR alum on the disabled list before he was optioned down to the Biggest Little City on May 18. Shipley, 26, tossed 2.2 innings on Wednesday in relief during the Aces’ 8-5 victory against the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
“I know it’s been a bit of a transition, but Shipley is making more of an adjustment in the bullpen and not starting on the mound,” Gross said. “That’s the only difference I see with him. He’s always composed out there on the mound and he will get an opportunity.”
Sherfy has also been thrown into the fire with the Diamondbacks. After spending the latter end of the season with the Aces’ big league affiliate in 2017, Sherfy was optioned back down on March 20. The 26-year-old righty was recalled back to the desert on May 13 and optioned on May 20, appearing in three games without allowing a run. Sherfy recorded his ninth Aces’ save of the year during Wednesday night’s win.
“Sherfy has the big game experience,” Gross said. “He’s pretty steady every outing with us so we need to see as a unit if he can carry that into the majors.”
Expect the Diamondbacks to shuffle the deck and weigh their options with their Aces prospects.
Buchanan loses no-hit bid, then the game
Jake Buchanan’s no-hitter was broken up by Todd Frazier, and all-star with the Cincinnati Reds in 2014, in the seventh inning in a 2-1 loss to the Las Vegas 51s on Friday night in Greater Nevada Field. Buchanan allowed two hits in 6.1 innings. He struck out eight batters and had just one walk. His record fell to 3-5. Rey Fuentes led off the game with a home run. It was the only run for the Aces, who scored 20 runs the night before. Reno leads the five-game series 2-1. Game 4 starts at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Greater Nevada Field. The Aces’ 31-year-old lefty Anthony Vasquez (3-2, 4.58 ERA) gets his fourth start of the season. Six-foot-5 inch, 250-pound Corey Oswalt will make his seventh start for Las Vegas. He’s 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA. He had one relief appearance with the Mets this year.
– Isaiah Burrows