Smokin' Aces - New Ace, Common Face

By Jake Trybulski / Reno Aces | March 8, 2019 4:15 PM

While Aceball is still a little over a month away for Triple-A Reno, it has already gotten started during Spring Training. Future, current and former Aces are impacting Major League teams during big league camp and beyond.

A number of former opponents likely to suit up for Reno this season

Kelby Tomlinson ('19) is a familiar foe for Aces' pitching and the proof is in the pudding. The infielder spent parts of the last four seasons with Triple-A Sacramento compiling a godly .402 average in 92 at-bats against the Aces.

However, don't fret Aces' fans, in search of organizational infield depth, the Diamondbacks inked Tomlinson and his unmistakable 'specs' to a minor-league deal during the offseason.

A fan favorite in the San Francisco Giants' organization since the start of his career, Tomlinson burst onto the Major League scene in 2015 hitting .303 over 54 games playing all over the diamond in the process. However, never really getting consistent at-bats over the next three seasons, Tomlinson's big-league average was never able to reach that mark again.

Tomlinson does not appear on the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster to start the season, so is likely to spend time in Reno in 2019. However, a call-up is definitely not out of the picture at some point for the infielder as a veteran with postseason experience is valuable to any team.

With plenty of spring left, he's stumbled out of the gates thus far going hitless in 14 at-bats.

To continue with the theme of veteran depth, the D-backs also agreed to terms with outfielder Matt Szczur ('19) to patrol the outfield in Reno this season. Szczur, once a very coveted prospect in the Cubs' organization, won a ring with the team in 2016 appearing in 107 games batting .259 with five home runs, 24 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

Fun fact, he also won a Division I FCS National Championship with the Villanova Wildcats in 2009 racking up 270 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the final game while receiving MVP honors in the process.

In 2017, he was traded to the San Diego Padres and elected free agency after the 2018 season. In PCL games with the Iowa Cubs and El Paso Chihuahuas, Szczur went 6-for-24 against the Aces' in his career.

The outfielder is 4-for-18 with two runs scored in spring training so far. Szczur is batting leadoff and playing center field in today's Cactus League action against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Like Tomlinson, Catcher Tyler Heineman ('19) has also had success the last four seasons at the dish hitting .384 in 65 at-bats against the Aces' while he spent time with the Fresno Grizzlies and Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Heineman signed a minor-league deal with the D-backs in November and is expected to be a big part of the duties behind the plate in Reno this season. The former UCLA standout is competing with Alex Avila, Caleb Joseph, John Ryan Murphy and Carson Kelly for a spot on the big-league roster.

He's appeared in five games going 0-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs this spring. He'll need a little magic to make the D-backs roster out of camp, but the art is something the magician is familiar with judging by all the showmanship he's exhibited in the clubhouse this spring. SERIOUSLY, check out the Diamondbacks' Twitter to see "The Amazing Heineman" in action.

Andrew Aplin ('19) is familiar with the Pacific Coast League spending parts of the last five seasons with Oklahoma City, Fresno, and Tacoma. Over that time, he's batted 160 times against the Aces hitting just .219.

The outfielder signed a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks a few months ago after being with the Seattle Mariners since 2017.

The former Arizona State Sun Devil has never appeared in a Major League game but reached Triple-A in 2014 so has been knocking on the door for quite a while. What appears to be a relatively thin Diamondbacks' outfield in 2019, maybe a chance is in store this season.

Aplin is in big-league camp this spring but is just 2-for-12 with two runs scored early on. He's in the lineup Friday, batting 8th playing right field, for the D-backs.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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