Reno Aces outfielder Tim Locastro is sending baseballs back to his old East Coast stomping grounds.
The Auburn, New York, native cranked a 389-foot homer on the first pitch he saw on Sunday. Locastro’s 419-foot blast on April 28 is the third-longest recorded Statcast home run by an Aces player at home this season.
On Tuesday, Locastro didn’t go yard in a 11-9 loss to the Salt Lake Bees, but he legged out a double in the eighth and recorded his team-best sixth stolen base of the season.
“Usually I’m someone who takes that first pitch,” he chuckled postgame on Sunday. “But I talked to my hitting coach (Jason Camilli) and I told him ‘I want to be aggressive today.’ And obviously it paid off.”
A right-handed batter, Locastro’s aggressiveness is the perfect complement at Greater Nevada Field. The wind and elevation in downtown Reno plays well to his power to the opposite field.
They were a perfect match on April 25, Locastro’s opposite field jack over the party zone in right field capped-off a career-high three home runs against the Fresno Grizzlies.
“It’s something I’ve really been working on all year,” he said. “Sometimes I get up there and I get a little too defensive and I’m not on the offensive side as much. So it’s something I want to pay attention here with how the wind plays here.”
Locastro lived at the Big Apple since his college days at Ithaca, a private liberal arts university founded in 1892. He’s become accustomed to the cross-country travel dates since the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the 13th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017. Locastro appeared in 18 games with the Dodgers last season before he was shipped to the New York Yankees. The 26-year-old didn’t suit up in pinstripes for his hometown team. He was designated for assignment and traded to Reno’s parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks on January 16.
Optioned to triple-A Reno on March 19, Locastro is putting on a show for his folks back home. He’s batting a team-high .324 with six home runs – three are leadoff – and 13 RBIs this season.
“My parents have to stay up until 1 a.m. to finish watching some of the games,” he said. “So a part of me wants to keep them entertained.”
“No matter what league you’re in, you have to get used to the non-stop timezone changes,” he added. “We’re traveling all over and you have to adjust to it, but it’s great to travel back home at times.”
Waiting in the on deck circle, Aces cleanup hitter Kevin Cron is the first spectator to view Locastro at the plate. Both sluggers help launch baseballs over the walls to help stack runs up in Reno’s favor.
“I like watching him work,” Cron said. “He’s got quick hands and you don’t know when he can turn on one (pitch). … We both have a lot of power in the lineup.”
Locastro’s quick hands in the batter’s box translates to his nimble feet in the outfield. Over his seven-year career, he’s split time between second base and center, right and left field.
The Aces’ loaded infield kicked Locastro to the outfield permanently and he’s passed with flying colors. As the starting center fielder, he made a sliding catch in the gap to keep the Aces deficit within two runs in the third inning.
Locastro credits his range and athleticism defensively to some pre-game batting practice.
“This is my first year where I’ve primarily played out there,” he said. “So I take it seriously in batting practice. That’s the most game-like experience I can get where the guys are doing their best to launch it over (the wall) and I try to get a good jump on them.”
Equipped with plenty of power and sneaky speed on the base paths, Locastro has the makings to stick with the Dbacks. He has been called up to Arizona twice, hitting .235 with four hits in 12 games. He was added to the Dbacks 40-man roster earlier this season.
“When you’re up there (in the majors) it’s all about helping the team win,” he said. “Your numbers will take care of themselves and that’s the biggest thing. It’s all about getting more comfortable and establishing yourself as a guy the organization can depend on.”
Vargas tops Aces hit record in loss
Ildemaro Vargas’ 2-for-4 performance marked a franchise-record 400 career hits with the Reno Aces.
Vargas, 27, tied the record with his first Triple-A homer to right-center in the first inning. The versatile infielder broke the record with a hard-hit single that sliced past Salt Lake shortstop Wilfredo Tovar in the fifth.
The loss extended Reno’s losing streak to a season-high seven games.
Cron awoke from a minor slump at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a home run, double and three RBIs . He followed Vargas with another home run off Bees starting pitcher Jaime Barria. Cron was 10 feet away from his second homer of the day, but instead settled for an RBI double in the fifth.
After Vargas and Cron went back-to-back, so did left fielder Travis Snider and manager Chris Cron, who were both ejected after getting up close and personal with home plate umpire Nick Mahrley.
Pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru leaped over the dugout padding in frustration after a questionable call in the top of the seventh. Aces catcher Caleb Joseph put a glove on Salt Lake outfielder Cesar Puello heading for home, but Mahrley called him safe, which let out a sigh from the 4,498 in attendance.
Puello was 5-for-11 with two homers and nine RBIs in the four-game series. The former Aces outfielder smacked a solo shot to left field in the fifth. His diving grab in right field took a base hit away from Domingo Leyba in the seventh.
Reno had 11 hits. Designated hitter Yasmany Tomás launched his ninth home run of the series to the opposite field. The Cuban slugger is second on the team in homers and 27 RBIs. Abraham Almonte went 1-for-4 with a triple.
Aces right-hander Taylor Clarke took the hill for the first time since his first MLB start with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Clarke surrendered six earned runs with three walks and three strikeouts in four innings of work.
Matt Koch got his first loss of the season in his first Triple-A appearance. Koch played in nine games with the Dbacks this season. The righty pitched four innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits and two walks.
The Aces jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Salt Lake answered with a five-run third inning. Reno tacked on another run in the fifth. The Bees scored one run apiece in the fourth and fifth. The Aces knotted the contest 7-7 with a four-hit, five-run fifth inning.
Salt Lake pulled ahead with another four-run seventh. The Aces plated two more in the eighth, but couldn’t complete the comeback in the ninth.
Notes: Former Aces southpaw Robbie Ray recorded his 800th career strikeout against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 13. Ray is the second-fastest left-handed pitcher to reach 800 career strikeouts in 125 games. He appeared on the mound with the Aces for a rehab assignment on June 19, 2018, against the Omaha Storm Chasers. … Reno leads Triple-A baseball with 182 walks over 39 games. They’ve allowed 131 runs this season. … The Aces have a 4-10 record so far in May.
On Deck: Reno, 14-24, will have an off day Wednesday. They begin a five-game home stand on Thursday, May 16, against the Tacoma Rainiers, Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners at 6:35 p.m.