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Aren’t They A Pair

PHOENIX–Casey Daigle may never match the numbers put up by his fiancée, Jennie Finch, one of the premier softball pitchers in the nation and a member of the touring U.S. Olympic Team. After all, Finch won 119 games with a 1.09 ERA in her four seasons at Arizona.

But after a strong start at Double-A El Paso, Daigle was emerging as a prospect in his fourth season in the organization. The righty made five consecutive quality starts and was 5-3, 4.26 in 51 innings.

"Casey is at the beginning of having a breakout season," farm director Tommy Jones said. "He is starting to figure things out with the help of (Diablos pitching coach) Claude Osteen. Claude Osteen has made a big difference."

So has Finch, whom Daigle met two years ago during spring training in Tucson when he and several Diamondbacks attended a softball game. The two began dating two weeks later, and Daigle proposed on the softball field last October.

"She’s been great for my career and my life," Daigle said. "She has me a little more focused than I used to be. Before I met her, I was kind of spur-of-the-moment.

"When she was playing at Arizona, she’d get done with a game and I would critique her. And every time she watches me, she tells me things. ‘Why did I do this in that situation?’ And I would ask her the same thing. She definitely understands the game."

Daigle’s recent success came after he shelved his split-finger fastball to stick with his primary arsenal of 92 mph fastball, slider and change, mixing in an occasional get-me-over curve.

"Physically, he is a very gifted athlete," Jones said. "He is a big, strong, strapping guy who is learning how to pitch. He has the upside to be an impact major league starter."

Daigle’s progress was stalled when he suffered a broken index finger on his first day of workouts after signing as a supplemental first-rounder out of Sulphur (La.) High in August 1999. He already had checked into his dorm at Tulane and was hours away from attending his first class before the Diamondbacks increased their bonus offer to about $1 million.

"I told myself when I was 24, I wanted to be shooting for the big leagues," said Daigle, 22.

He may be right on track.

Snake Bites

• El Paso closer Brian Bruney gave up hits to just four of the first 38 righthanded batters he faced this season.

• Class A Lancaster outfielder Marland Williams, who had 51 stolen bases in 70 games for Rookie-level Missoula last season, had 22 stolen bases in his first 31 games.

• Previous organization report: Brandon Webb, Andrew Good, Oscar Villarreal and John Patterson

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