|New Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has been aggressive this offseason in trying to breathe life into an Arizona bullpen that flat-lined last season. He added two young power arms to the organization’s stable at the Winter Meetings, acquiring righthanders Kam Mickolio and David Hernandez from the Orioles for power-hitting, strikeout-prone third baseman Mark Reynolds. Arizona also will receive a player to be named.
Towers also signed free agent reliever J.J. Putz to a two-year deal at the Winter Meetings. In October, he claimed Brian Sweeney on waivers from the Mariners. Interestingly, Mickolio, Putz and Sweeney all began their careers in affiliated ball with the Mariners.
UPDATE: The Diamondbacks announced that 27-year-old catcher John Hester is the player to be named in the deal (April 30).
|Kam Mickolio, rhp
Born: May 10, 1984 in Wolf Point, Mont.
Ht.: 6-9. Wt.: 255. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Utah Valley State.
Career Transactions: Selected by Mariners in 18th round of 2006 draft; signed June 11, 2006 … Traded by Mariners with OF Adam Jones, RHP Chris Tillman and LHPs George Sherrill and Tony Butler to Orioles for LHP Erik Bedard, Feb. 8, 2008.
This is the second time Mickolio has been traded for an established big leaguer. The Mariners previously included him in their deal for Erik Bedard. Mickolio moved quickly through the minor leagues and became just the 12th pitcher born in Montana to pitch in the big leauges when he made his debut in 2008. But he hasn’t been able to stick in a big league bullpen yet, logging just 25 innings over 23 games with the Orioles. That should change this year, as the Diamondbacks are starving for bullpen help after their relief corps combined for a 5.74 ERA last season. Mickolio has an intimidating 6-foot-9 frame and unorthodox crossfire delivery, and he fires fastballs in the 95-96 mph range and touches 98. He mixes in a hard slider and an occasional changeup. He most recently pitched in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 0.75 ERA with 18 strikeouts and two walks in 12 innings, including a scoreless inning in the league championship game.
|David Hernandez, rhp
Born: May 13, 1985 in Sacramento.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Cosumnes River (Calif.) CC.
Career Transactions: Selected by Orioles in 16th round of 2005 draft; signed July 12, 2005.
The Diamondbacks drafted Hernandez out of Cosumnes River (Calif.) JC in 2004 but weren’t able to sign him. He returned to the school and went in the 16th round in 2005. Hernandez worked as a starter for most of his climb through the minors and started 19 games for the Orioles in ’09. He started his first eight games in 2010 before the team transitioned him to the bullpen because of some funk in his delivery and the inability to develop a changeup. Hernandez always has had arm strength, and his stuff plays up in the bullpen. His fastball was in the 94-96 mph range and topped out at 98 after the switch. His go-to secondary pitch is a hard curveball around 80 mph.
|Mark Reynolds, 3b
Age: 27. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 2 years, $12.5 million plus either club option ($11 million) or buyout ($500,000).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
John Hester, c
Age: 27. Position: C (10 G).
Born: Sept. 14, 1983 in Atlanta.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 228. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Selected by Diamondbacks in 13th round of 2006 draft; signed June 15, 2006.
Arizona removed Hester from its 40-man roster during spring training after the backstop had caught 41 games for the club in 2009-10. He batted .220/.294/.366 in 136 big league plate appearances, showing occasional gap power but not the bat to profile as a regular with his solid-average defensive tools. Hester throws well enough, having caught 28 percent of basestealers in his time with Triple-A Reno during the past three seasons—compared with just 16 percent in sporadic big league time. Favorable hitting conditions in the Pacific Coast League propped up his batting line to .335/.390/.562 with 17 homers in 557 plate appearances, so while Hester won’t be able to hit anything like that in the American League, he has the power, defensive chops and price tag (major league minimum) that clubs like in their backup catchers.