Smokin' Aces - Who's On First

Former, Future Aces Ready for Big League Chance

By Jake Trybulski / Reno Aces | February 25, 2019 6:50 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 look to impact the Arizona Diamondbacks during big league camp.

Who Plays First For The Diamondbacks?

It is no secret that the departure of six-time all-star Paul Goldschmidt leaves a large vacancy at first base in the desert. A number of current and former Reno Aces look to fill that void this Spring Training and during the 2019 campaign.

A pivotal few months await former Aces infielder, Jake Lamb ('14,'15), as he recovers from 2018 left-shoulder surgery and looks to transition to first base in 2019. Lamb is 1-for-3 with one run scored early into spring training.

Yasmany Tomas ('15, '18), Kevin Cron ('18), and Christian Walker ('17, '18) will also compete at first base this spring. Tomas' value to the D-Backs could come against left-handed pitching in 2019 as Lamb has struggled against lefties in the past. Last season, Lamb went 8-for-47 against southpaws (.170) with 17 strikeouts.

"I want to see him control the zone offensively and grind out at-bats," D-backs' manager Torey Lovullo told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. "We know that there's immense power in there -- he just touches the ball and it flies. I want him to continue to build on what I've been watching through batting practice and that's just a real quiet, patient approach and using the entire diamond."

Tomas is 2-for-4 through two games played.

2017 Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker made an early splash in Spring Training with a double in his first at-bat of spring followed by a 2-run home run that left the Goodyear Ballpark entirely. He is 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBI thus far.

Lastly, Kevin Cron, who led the Aces in home runs and RBIs in 2018 is 1-for-7 with one run scored in three spring appearances.

Marte Making Transition

Ketel Marte ('17), has spent the entirety of his professional career known as a shortstop or second baseman. In 2019, the former Ace is expected to stick in the middle of the diamond, but this time in centerfield in absence of A.J Pollock ('12, '14, '17). Diamondbacks outfield coach Dave McKay told D-backs beat reporter, Steve Gilbert, he likes what he has seen from Marte so far, but nothing simulates a real game.

Marte has played one game at second base and one in centerfield so far this spring. The switch-hitter is 2-for-5 with a stolen base in two games played.

The D-Backs signed veteran infielder Wilmer Flores to play second base while Marte makes the outfield transition. Ildemaro Vargas ('16-'18) is also on the 40-man roster if more infield help is needed in Arizona. Vargas went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI Sunday and 1-for-3 with two RBI Monday.

 Promising Young Pitchers

The Aces are expected to feature the D-Backs' top three pitching prospects this season.

Reno's 2018 leader in wins, Taylor Clarke, has yet to appear in a game this spring but with a career high in innings thrown a season ago (152 IP), it's possible they want to start him slow. Clarke is on the D-backs 40-man roster.

Jon Duplantier, the No. 2 overall prospect in the organization, had two strikeouts, one walk in two scoreless innings Monday in his 2019 Cactus League debut.

Taylor Widener, acquired in a trade that sent Brandon Drury ('15-'16) to the Yankees in 2018, threw two scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out two against the Indians Sunday in his first appearance.

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

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