D-backs' Erben Emerges As Potential Steal

PHOENIX—Jeremy Erben so impressed the Diamondbacks in his first two months in the organization that they promoted him to high Class A Visalia with two days remaining in the regular season to add an arm for the California League playoffs. That the Rawhide lost the final day of the regular season and did not advance was beside the point.

"He had a good season. Heavy sink. Love the slider. He came in and impressed," said Mike Berger, the Diamondbacks farm director last season before being named the director of pro scouting in October.

Erben, a 22nd-round pick in June after his senior year at Oklahoma, was 1-3, 4.24 with three saves in 13 appearances at Rookie-level Missoula, and he seemed to get better as the season progressed. The 23-year-old did not give up an earned run in his last eight appearances over 101⁄3 innings, and he got all his saves in that stretch. For the season, Erben gave up just 11 hits and six walks in 17 innings while striking out 27, with 12 of his final 19 outs strikeouts. Opponents hit .175 against him.

The 5-foot-11, 201-pound Erben relied on a sinking fastball that sat at 92 mph and topped out a mile or two higher, complementing that with a slider and changeup—both of which graded out as major league average.

"Twenty-second rounders aren't supposed to look like this right out of the shoot. I came away attaching major league value to him. He's definitely something in the bullpen. You hope he's a set-up guy," Berger said.

Erben started and relieved in his three years at Oklahoma, where he arrived after one season at Weatherford (Texas) JC. He pitched in relief in 2009 after missing the first part of the season with an elbow injury, then was used in both roles in his final college season. He had a 222⁄3-inning scoreless streak early in 2010 for the Sooners, where he was a co-captain, helping the team reach the College World Series.

"Love the competitiveness. Everyone praised him for his competitiveness and his work ethic," Berger said.

Snake Bites

• Scottsdale left fielder Marc Krauss hit the first grand slam in the Arizona Fall League this season and drove in seven runs in a 12-4 victory over the Peoria Javelinas on Oct. 22. He led the league in RBIs with 17 through Nov. 2.

• Righthander Kyler Newby gave up just two hits over five innings in his second winter ball start in the Puerto Rican League. Newby moved into Double-A Mobile's rotation in July and continued in that role in Puerto Rico. He allowed just two runs on five hits through his first eight innings of work.