Manager A.J. Hinch wasn't the only new face in the Arizona Diamondbacks' dugout last week. The club also saw two players make their Major League debuts May 13.
And showing the club's desire to bring up talent from wherever it is ready, both came directly from Double-A Mobile rather than Triple-A Reno.
Right-hander Bryan Augenstein, who leaped onto radar screens this spring with a 5-0 record and 0.78 ERA in six games at Mobile, joined the team May 13 and earned the start that night against Cincinnati.
And top outfield prospect Gerardo Parra, the 21-year-old Venezuela native who got a taste of high-level competition in the World Baseball Classic, joined Augenstein from Mobile after getting off to a hot start that saw him hit .361 with three homers, 12 RBIs and seven steals, ranking fourth in the Southern League in batting when he was recalled the same day.
While all big league managers make sure to find out everything they can about prospects who join their teams, of course, Hinch's job may have been easier than most. That's because he was named the club's new manager after serving as its Director of Player Development. In fact, you could argue that there is no one in the system more familiar with what Augenstein and Parra bring to the table than Hinch himself.
Augenstein, the club's seventh-round pick out of Florida State in 2007, ranked among the Minor League leaders in wins and ERA when promoted. In his debut, he took the 10-3 loss to Cincinnati with 6 1/3 innings of work, allowing five runs on eight hits, walking two (one intentionally) and fanning three. He also hit a batter.
Parra's name is likely more familiar to the average baseball fan as one of the system's top prospects, and he now shares a nice piece of history as well.
In the lineup May 13, backing up Augenstein in center field, Parra was batting second and though more of a speed guy than a power hitter, he blasted one of the first big league pitches he saw from Reds ace Johnny Cueto for a home run in his first at-bat, becoming the 100th player in Major League history to homer in his first at-bat. Overall on the night he went 1-for-4.
Parra beat the odds this spring by making the cut for the Venezuelan team during the WBC, a left-handed hitter who has shown a live bat as he's accelerated up the ladder. Coming into 2009, he had combined for a .319 average and stolen at least 20 bases each of his four seasons.
"He's a pretty polished player and can manage the bat very well, play all three outfield positions and controls the strike zone," said Hinch. "Over the course of the last two winters, he's also had strong performances against older competition and has gotten a little more confidence, a little more swagger and his at-bats have gotten better against left-handed pitching."
Ironically, the club almost had three debuts this week. Reliever Clay Zavada had been recalled from Mobile as well two days earlier but didn't get into a game before being returned to the BayBears to make room for Augenstein. Look for his debut in the coming weeks.
The following players also made their big league debuts between May 8-14.
Daniel Bard, RHP, Boston Red Sox
CALLED UP: Contract purchased from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 10 when P Javier Lopez was designated for assignment.
DEBUT: May 13 in an 8-4 loss to the Angels. The third of four pitchers, he tossed two innings of scoreless one-hit ball, walking one and striking out one.
NOTES: "Blazing fastball" only begins to describe the out-pitch of this Red Sox relief prospect. The second of their two first-round picks in 2006, he was taken with the 28th overall selection out of North Carolina that summer as a starter and struggled before being moved to the back end of the bullpen. Sitting in the upper 90s and hitting 100 with some regularity, his fastball offsets a power sinker. He tossed 10 1/3 innings of shutout ball during spring training and had 29 strikeouts in 16 innings for the PawSox before his promotion. With Jonathan Papelbon ensconced in the closer role in Boston, Bard could provide outstanding set-up work for now.
Chris Coghlan, 2B, Florida Marlins
CALLED UP: Contract purchased from Triple-A New Orleans on May 8 when P Anibal Sanchez went on the DL.
DEBUT: May 8 in an 8-3 win against Colorado. The starting second baseman, he batted second and went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a walk.
NOTES: How do you know Coghlan is going to be looked at to provide potential offense all over the field? He made his professional debut in the outfield May 7 and got called up the next day. They needed to know he could play anywhere. But it was his bat that inspired the slumping team to make the call as he was hitting .344 with 13 extra-base hits when summoned. He responded with his first career homer shortly thereafter, which made headlines when the Milwaukee so-called superfan who caught it drove a ridiculously hard bargain to return the ball to the rookie.
Nolan Reimold, OF, Baltimore Orioles
CALLED UP: Recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on May 14 when P Bob McCrory was sent down.
DEBUT: May 14 in a 9-5 win against Kansas City. The starting left fielder, he batted seventh and went 1-for-5.
NOTES: The timing was finally right to bring up the much-heralded Reimold, the Orioles' second-round pick in 2005 out of Bowling Green. One of their top power prospects, he'd been plagued by back trouble that slowed his ascent, but his 25 homers and 84 RBIs at Double-A Bowie in 2008 showed what he was capable of. He was off to his best start ever in his Triple-A debut to open 2009, flirting with .400 with a .394 average, nine homers and 27 RBIs as well as a .743 slugging percentage that ranked second in the Minors. He's posted a .278 average in four seasons and with outfielder Adam Jones injured in Wednesday night's game, he should get some regular playing time.