Two More D-backs Rookies Start Strong

Two More D-backs Rookies Start Strong

On Friday, left-handed pitcher Zach Kroenke won his first major league start and catcher Konrad Schmidt singled in his first major league at-bat. Both Arizona Diamondbacks rookies followed a recent tradition of Baby Backs excelling in their big league debuts.

Left-handed pitcher Zach Kroenke won his first major league start in his third major league appearance, giving up only two hits and one run in five innings. He struck out two, walked one and left with a 7-1 lead. A reliever most often in his minor league career, Kroenke pitched from the stretch the entire game.

 "I've been doing that for a couple of years. Why mess with it?" said Kroenke, who stepped in for RHP Daniel Hudson (right middle finger tendon). "Getting your first win in the big leagues is pretty cool."

Even though Kroenke has been a reliever for most of his career, he has three quality pitches in a fastball, slider, and splitter, which makes him a viable option as a starting pitcher.  Moreover, Kroenke went 5-1 with a 1.43 ERA in nine Triple-A starts this season but just 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA in 53.1 relief innings.

Catcher Konrad Schmidt singled to center field on the first pitch he saw in the second inning of Kroenke's win for his first major-league hit. It was his first career start, his third game after two pinch-hit appearances, including one in which he was announced but then replaced after a pitching change.  He walked his first time at the dish.

"I was nervous, no doubt about it, but I was actually kind of surprised with how focused I was," Schmidt told FutureBacks.

Both rookies followed a recent tradition of D-back players excelling in their major league debuts.  Gerardo Parra and John Hester each homered in their first big league at-bat last year, while Rusty Ryal singled in his.  This season, right-handed starters Cesar Valdez and Barry Enright each won their major league debuts.

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