Juan Acevedo burst onto the scene back in 1995 where he posted a 4-6 record with an ERA over 6.00. Still, those numbers were in hitter friendly Colorado and back then many were predicting a long and storied career for Acevedo, either as a starter or a closer. The long and storied career may have come true, but probably not the kind of stories Acevedo was hoping to tell. He went from the Rockies to the Twins back to the Rockies to the Mets to the Cardinals to the Brewers back to the Rockies then to the Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Pirates and now the Diamondbacks. He's suffered from arm problems that took his mid 90s fastball as low as the mid 80s but is said to be healthy and will be fighting for a spot in the Diamondbacks bullpen.
He hasn't pitched in the Majors in two years, and hasn't spent a full season in the Majors since 1999. Expect him to stay in the organization, at Triple-A Tucson, and be moved up as his numbers, and injuries in the Diamondbacks bullpen, dictate.
Jon Cannon was once a seventh round pick by the Cubs who liked his long frame and power slider. Several organizations later he landed in Tucson last season and split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation where he gave up 15 homers in 121 innings. He still has the power slider, and many in the Diamondbacks organization think he turned a corner the last month of the 2004 season, where in six of his last eight starts he went at least six innings and gave up less than three runs.
Still, six innings tended to be the max for Cannon, and the bullpen is his likely destination. A good Spring will mean the bullpen at the BOB, an average or poor Spring means a return to Tucson, which is more likely.
After a disastrous rookie campaign Casey Daigle is back in camp as a non-roster invitee, and he's hoping to put his 7+ ERA 2004 behind him. At 6'5" the Diamondbacks have always liked the downward slope of Daigle's pitches, and felt he was simply overthrowing last season. Privately the Diamondbacks are kicking themselves for rushing Daigle into the rotation, but most have said he seems to have put '04 behind him.
In November Daigle was probably slotted as the D'Backs #4 starter, but with the signings of Javier Vazquez, Shawn Estes and Russ Ortiz Daigle will get a chance to regain his form, and confidence, in Triple-A.
The Diamondbacks believe Greg Aquino is their closer of the now and of the future, but you can never have too much help at the end of games, hence the signing of Jose Jimenez. The now 31 year old Jimenez is coming off a disastrous year in Cleveland where he finished 1-7 with an ERA of 8.42. There's no denying Jimenez used to be a very good pitcher (he saved 102 games in four years for the Rockies from 2000-2003 but was horrible after changing leagues. The Diamondbacks are hoping a return to the National League, and the familiar NL West, will help Jimenez recover his old form.
Jimenez had arm problems last year which caused his velocity to drop dramatically. If he regains the low to mid 90s fastball he showcased in Colorado he's certainly got the mental toughness to move into the Diamondbacks bullpen and potentially nail down the set up role. His biggest challenge may be convincing the Diamondbacks to move someone off their 40 man roster to clear space for him.
Brandon Medders had been considered a high riser in the D'Backs organization coming into 2004. He was their eighth round pick in the 2001 draft out of Mississippi State, and at the beginning of last year many would have predicted him as a lock for the D'Backs bullpen in '05. Unfortunately injuries limited him to just 11 appearances at Triple-A Tuscon last year, and he was non-tendered just before the New Year. His invitation to camp was predicated on his being healthy, and it appears he is, though maybe not 100%
A long shot of the 100 to 1 variety, what Medders is really competing for is a chance to stay in the D'Backs organization.
Donovan Osborne has long been considered one of the best lefties who could never stay healthy, and his travels around the Majors prove it. Last year was anything but spectacular, but he made some appearances for the Yankees that were encouraging enough the Diamondbacks invited him to camp and are giving him every opportunity to be the second lefty (along with Randy Choate) in the pen.
Probably the most likely to make the 25 man roster, Osborne will, as always, be evaluated more on how he recovers than how he pitches. If he stays healthy and regains the control that was his calling card when he first arrived with St. Louis he'll likely make the team, but if he doesn't prove to the Diamondbacks that he can pitch three times a week without injury he'll be looking for a new address yet again.
Phil Stockman is 6'6" and can throw the ball 95mph. That will get people's attention, but what forced the Diamondbacks to stand up and take notice was when Stockman started throwing 91mph. A little less velocity meant a lot more movement for the youngster. He made the FutureBacks.com Top 50 (#30) and was tabbed as one of the top right handed pitchers in the organization.
This is Stockman's second straight non-roster invite to Spring Training, and it will almost certainly be his second trip back to the minors, but that will have less to do with Stockman's performance and more to do with the Diamondbacks plans for him. They don't want to move Stockman to the bullpen, and he's at the back end of the six or seven pitchers competing for the #5 starter spot. Expect Stockman to have a better opportunity next season.
Kevin Tolar has been here before. Every season since 2000 he's been right on the cusp of making a big league team, but he never seems to stick. He's seen time in the bigs with Detroit and Boston, neither with impressive results. The Cubs nearly turned to him last season to fill the gaping hole at the back end of their bullpen, but installed LaTroy Hawkins instead. A hard throwing lefty who's averaged more than a strikeout per inning pitched everywhere he's gone he will always have interest, but this season he might actually find a steady gig.
That is, if Donovan Osborne can't keep his arm from falling off. The Diamondbacks' brass is in agreement with Manager Bob Melvin that the bullpen, while very good, could use a veteran influence, and Osborne seems to be the guy everybody is looking to. Still, Tolar is nothing if not dependable. He's appeared in at least 40 games every year since 1997, and if he makes the club over Osborne that durability will be the reason why.