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Reno Aces Pitching Staff Begins to Take Shape

Diamondbacks Assign Joel Payamps, Emilio Vargas, Bo Takahashi, Riley Smith and Taylor Widener to Triple-A Reno
March 6, 2020

The Arizona Diamondbacks optioned RHP Joel Payamps, RHP Emilio Vargas, and RHP Bo Takahashi to Triple-A Reno on Friday, March 6. RHP Riley Smith and RHP Taylor Widener were optioned to the Biggest Little City on Sunday, March 8. Learn more about the new additions below:

The Arizona Diamondbacks optioned RHP Joel Payamps, RHP Emilio Vargas, and RHP Bo Takahashi to Triple-A Reno on Friday, March 6. RHP Riley Smith and RHP Taylor Widener were optioned to the Biggest Little City on Sunday, March 8. Learn more about the new additions below:

Joel Payamps Age: 25 Pos: RHP

Payamps enters his fifth season with the Diamondbacks organization, and his fourth season with the Aces after making his big-league debut last season for the Dbacks. In 2019, he started the season with Double-A Jackson, where in seven starts he went 3-4 with a 2.88 ERA. The 25-year-old struck out 39 hitters while walking two in 40.2 frames. He then had eight starts with the Aces, going 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA. At Greater Nevada Field, he went 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .217 average.

The six-foot-two starter was originally signed as a Minor League Free Agent in 2011 by the Colorado Rockies, the organization whom he’d play four seasons with, climbing as high as short-season A ball. He then was signed as a Minor League Free Agent in 2015 with the Diamondbacks. In 2018, he enjoyed his best season with the organization, going 9-4 with a 2.90 ERA, while holding opposing hitters to a .217 average with the Generals.

Joel Payamps features a low to mid 90s fastball and uses a breaking ball to keep hitters off balance. He should be a key arm in the Aces pitching staff.

Riley Smith Age:25 Pos: RHP

A 2016 draft pick out of Louisiana State University, Smith has ascended quickly through the system reaching Triple-A Reno for the first time this past season. Split between Double-A Jackson and the Aces last year, Smith compiled a 6-6 record with a 4.43 ERA over 25 starts and 134.0 innings pitched while striking out 110 hitters. With the Biggest Little City and pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Smith had five quality starts which were most on the team.

During his time with Double-A Jackson in 2019, he was named a mid-season all-star. The righty was 4-4 with a 2.27 ERA and a .242 average against for the Generals in 2019. In November, he was added to the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster.

He operates with a low to mid 90s fastball to go with a slider and changeup. On paper, he'll be a mainstay in the Aces rotation this season.

Emilio Vargas Age:23 Pos: RHP

Vargas enters his eighth season in the Diamondbacks’ organization, and his first season with the Aces after being signed as a Minor League Free Agent in 2013. Last season, he spent a majority of the season with Double-A Jackson posting a 5-3 record in 17 starts with a 3.78 ERA.

The 23-year-old starter went 4-1 in 10 starts on the road, posting a .212 opposing average, and a 3.78 ERA. Following the All-Star break, he went 4-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 10 starts. In 2018, the six-foot-three-pitcher went 8-5 with a 2.50 ERA with the Visalia Rawhide. That season, he was named as a Baseball-America High Class A All-Star while also receiving Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star recognition.

He operates with a fastball, changeup, and a slider which he uses often as his swing and miss pitch.

Bo Takahashi Age: 23 Pos: RHP

Takahashi enters his seventh season in the Diamondbacks organization and his first with the Reno Aces. Bo was signed as a Minor League Free Agent during the 2014 offseason by the Dbacks. The 23-year-old pitcher was born in Presidente Prudente, Brazil, and went 9-7 in 23 starts last season with Double-A Jackson, and had an ERA of 3.72. He made two postseason starts during Double-A Jackson’s 2019 Southern League Championship run, going 1-1, tossing 10 innings and allowing two earned runs.

Last season he was selected to the Southern League All-Star Game after posting a 5-4 record in 12 starts, with a 3.60 ERA prior to the All-Star Break.

During his five starts in May, he went 2-1, with an ERA of 2.00. In 2017 with Visalia, he had a 7-10 record with a 5.33 ERA. In his eight starts at home, he had a 4-3 record and held a 2.17 ERA. Throughout 49.1 frames, he kept opposing hitters to a .198 average, while fanning 53 hitters and surrendering four walks. He was named as a California League All-Star with the Rawhide, and received Pitcher of the Week accolades twice during the season.

Takahashi was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 18 of last season but did not pitch. He was the first Brazilian-born player to don a D-backs uniform in team history and just the 6th player to reach the Major Leagues.

An interesting thing about Takahashi is he speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and understands Japanese.

Taylor Widener Age: 25 Pos: RHP

Widener was originally drafted by the New York Yankees out of the University of South Carolina in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. He was brought the D-backs' organization in a 2018 three-way trade involving Arizona, New York and the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Arizona Diamondbacks traded 3B Brandon Drury to New York Yankees. In exchange for Drury, the New York Yankees traded Taylor Widener to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Nick Solak to Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays then traded RF Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona Diamondbacks while the D-backs sent LHP Anthony Banda and a Player To Be Named Later to the Rays.

He's been a strikeout machine since starting his pro career striking out 473 batters in 395 career innings pitched.

Widener really burst onto the scene in 2018 with Arizona when he won the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. That season, he went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 137.1 IP to go with 176 strikeouts and a .197 average against. In 2019, Widener didn't enjoy the same success as the season prior going 6-7 with a 8.10 ERA in 23 starts for Triple-A Reno.

However, the D-backs don't seem worried about 2019 as they added Widener to the 40-man roster in November. Expect a bounce back season for the right-hander in 2020.