D-backs' Cesar Valdez Gets Major Opportunity

PHOENIX—It took about a year, but the Cesar Valdez the Diamondbacks saw in 2008 is back.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander, Arizona's 2008 minor league pitcher of the year, was throwing so well at Triple-A Reno this season that he earned his first trip to the major leagues when he was promoted for a May 3 start after injuries created an opportunity.

Valdez, 25, seized the opportunity, beating the Astros by yielding just one run on five hits over five innings. "He has a good sinker and a devastating changeup," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Even in spring training, we thought he looked like the old Valdez again."

Valdez's next three outings with the Diamond­backs (including two relief apperances) weren't as successful. He yielded 10 runs in eight innings, and his record stood at 1-1, 7.82 overall.

Valdez, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, was too far down in the pecking order to merit much consideration this spring. Last year, he went 7-6, 4.76 in 96 innings with Reno and made a lackluster showing in the Arizona Fall League, but his early run while repeating Reno put him back on the map.

Valdez was 1-1, 3.80 in four starts this year with the Aces. His command was back, as shown by 25 strikeouts against five walks in 24 innings. It was reminiscent of his breakout 2008, when he was a combined 13-8, 3.14 with 140 strikeouts and 39 walks at high Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile.

Valdez's fastball sits in the 88-90 mph range, occasionally touching 92, but it's his ability to spot three pitches and challenge hitters that's made him effective.

"He's pretty unique in how he pitches. You don't quite know if it's a sinker or a changeup, and he throws enough breaking balls to keep you honest. If he throws strikes, he keeps the ball on the ground," Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said.

Snake Bites

• Visalia lefthander Wade Miley ran his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 13 2⁄3 when he went 6 2⁄3 innings in a 3-1 victory against Modesto. Miley, a sandwich pick in the 2008 draft out of Southeastern Louisiana, was 3-3, 1.80 after seven starts and had given up only one earned run in 30 innings over his last five starts.

• The Diamondbacks signed third baseman Kory Casto to a minor league deal. Casto, 28, hit .271/.334/.378 for Triple-A Syracuse in the Nationals organization last year.