Domingo Leyba worked seven years for a shot at the Major Leagues, and he jumped at his first opportunity.
Leyba, who was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday afternoon, laced a single down the third base line in his first career at-bat on Saturday against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.
In his seventh professional season, Leyba, 23, was promoted to the Dbacks. First baseman Kevin Cron was optioned back to Triple-A Reno.
When Leyba heard the news of his call-up to Arizona, his gleaming smile grew even bigger.
“For a young kid, it was great to see,” Aces manager Chris Cron said. “He had a big smile on his face and everybody hugged him and congratulated him.”
On Friday’s 5-1 victory over the Albuquerque Isotopes, Leyba was slotted as the starting shortstop before he was taken out of the contest in the fourth inning. After the game, the manager made the announcement of Leyba’s promotion to the show.
“Instead of doing the traditional calling him in the office and coming up with some B.S. story, I decided to do something different,” Cron said.
“It was another nice win (last night), so I went into the clubhouse and congratulated everybody and just said, ‘Oh, and that guy right there, Domingo Leyba, he’s going to the big leagues.’ It was in front of everybody and it made it a bit more special.”
On Saturday, the Aces escaped with a 1-0 victory over the Albuquerque Isotopes on Archie’s Superhero Birthday Party at Greater Nevada Field.
Before he departed from Greater Nevada Field, Leyba made sure to give his thanks and appreciations to the rest of the team and staff members.
“He came in and thanked everybody here in the office,” Cron said. “He’s a great kid. We’ve known him for a long time. With me being the hitting coordinator, I’ve had a pretty good relationship with the kid the last five or six years.”
No matter the outcome of the game, Leyba’s energetic and joyful personality fit in like a glove with the rest of the team. He is one of six Latin players on the Aces’ active roster.
“Domingo was a big part of that,” Cron said. “He always has fun and plays like it too. He’s had some positive role models to look up to with guys like Abraham Almonte, Yasmany Tomás, (Ildemaro) Vargas when here was here and (Juniel) Querecuto. They’ve really come together .”
Dbacks’ infielder Ketel Marte’s injury concerns helped bring Leyba to Arizona. Marte suffered a groin cramp on Friday against the Giants. He did not play on Saturday.
Leyba’s defensive versatility can help fill the mold. In 66 games with the Aces this season, he has 30 starts at shortstop and 31 at second base. Leyba also subbed in at third base in double-switch situations.
The rangy infielder has flashed the glove in Reno all season, something Cron has taken note of.
“It’s his ability to step in and play those three positions,” he said. “With Ketel (Marte) down, Leyba can play those three positions and play them all at a high level. He’s been in the middle of the infield his whole career and he’s capable of doing it with what he’s done this year. … He’s been very consistent and I’m excited for him.”
While Leyba can use either hand to get the job done defensively, he translates his ambidextrous play offensively, as well. A switch-hitter, Leyba’s quick hands helps turn on pitches and drive baseballs the gaps.
He hit .289 with 10 home runs, 24 doubles, three triples and 42 RBIs for the Aces. Seven homers were launched from the left side and three from the right side.
An anomaly for left-handed batters in downtown Reno, Leyba doesn’t swing for the fences.
“I don’t want to change anything about my swing,” he told Tahoe Onstage through an interpreter this season. “Teammates have told me about the air here in Reno, but my short game is what got me here.”
A Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native, Leyba’s journey through professional baseball began as a 16-year-old. He competed in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series, a youth initiative program dedicated to provide baseball competitions and activities for kids in underserved and diverse throughout the United States, Dominican Republic and Cuba.
Leyba dazzled on the diamond, which caught the eyes from a few Major League scouts.
“That’s where I was first discovered,” he said. “The Detroit Tigers saw me, scouted me and ended up signing me.”
The rangy infielder spent two seasons with the Tigers’ organization before being dealt to Arizona in 2014. Following, an injury-riddled 2017, Leyba rebounded in 2018 with 86 hits and 30 RBIs at a .269 clip with Double-A Jackson.
After a short stint with Triple-A Reno, Leyba is now living the big-league dream with the Dbacks.
“I’m so grateful, I thank God every day that I’m in good health,” he said earlier this season. “It’s been a ride that I am even here now…. I’m excited and I’m ready.”
Kevin Cron returns in Aces shutout victory
Kevin Cron returned to the Biggest Little City in the Aces’ 1-0 win, going 0-for-1 with three walks.
Reno has won three-straight games.
The slugging infielder received the big-league treatment at the plate in his first game back. Albuquerque pitchers Pat Dean and Ben Bowden gave Cron a heavy dose of sweeping sliders that broke away from the plate, a weakness of his that opposing hurlers have focused on.
Cron, 26, was recalled to the Dbacks for the second time on June 1. He hit .213 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 47 at-bats with Arizona.
The 2017 PCL MVP Christian Walker kept first base duties, which kept Cron on the bench for most of his tenure with the big-league club. He made the most of his opportunities in pinch-hit situations with a double and a solo blast on June 19 against the Colorado Rockies.
Cron will be immediately inserted back into the starting lineup with the Aces on his father’s orders.
“He’s in such a different situation,” Chris Cron said. “Coming off the bench is extremely difficult to do at times. He’s just never done it before. … But he’s shown he’s capable of being a guy the Diamondbacks can rely on. Now he’s just going to come back down here and playing every day to get comfortable of swinging the bat the way we know he can.”
Along with Cron, 2017 MLB All-Star Jake Lamb remains with Reno during his rehabilitation assignment.
Cron got the start at third base while Lamb earned the nod at first. Both players complemented each other well defensively. Cron made a smooth scoop-and-throw to Lamb for the final out in the third inning.
With Cron and Lamb donning Aces jerseys, runs shouldn’t be hard to come by.
Both teams combined for 11 hits. Wyatt Mathisen went 1-for-4 with a solo home run to left field in the second. Juniel Querecuto added a game-high three hits.
The Reno pitching staff tossed its second shutout of the season. Aces starting pitcher Alex Young tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Reno reliever Bradin Hagens followed with four scoreless innings to preserve a 1-0 lead through the seventh inning. Joy Krehbiel tossed 1.2 scoreless innings. Lucas Luetge did the rest and recorded his first save on the year.
Notes: Aces catcher John Ryan Murphy is 7-for-34 this season. Of his seven hits, four are home runs. Three of which are three-run homers. … Reno pitcher Braden Shipley threw his third quality start of the season last night, giving up one earned run in 6.1 innings. … The Aces are 21-17 at home this season and 10-9 during the month of June.
On Deck: Reno, 32-42, face Albuquerque for the fourth game of the five-game series at Greater Nevada Field. Ricky Nolasco is expected to take the hill for the Aces. Kyle Freeland, who has started 12 games for the Colorado Rockies this season, is the probable starting pitcher for the Isotopes.
— Isaiah Burrows