Diamondbacks' Newby Keeps Rolling As A Starter

PHOENIX—If the camera is on Kyler Newby and not on the scoreboard, it's difficult to tell if he is pitching to the first hitter of the game, the final hitter with the tying run on base or somewhere in between. He is that versatile . . . and that focused.

"It's always like he is pitching in the World Series," said farm director Mike Bell, who managed Newby at high Class A Visalia in 2008.

Newby was a closer then, racking up 16 saves while going 4-3, 2.69 with 86 strikeouts in 67 innings. He has been just as effective more recently in a starting role, which he occupied in the second half of 2010 at Double-A Mobile after Barry Enright was promoted to the major leagues. He continued to excel there with Ponce of the Puerto Rican League this winter.

Newby, 25, went 4-3, 3.45 at Mobile before going 4-2 with a league-best 1.55 ERA in 10 regular-season games to help Ponce into the Puerto Rican League playoffs. Included was a midseason streak of 24 scoreless innings. With his fastball/splitter mix, he didn't give up a home run in 46 innings while striking out 45.

"He moved into the starting rotation (in Mobile) and went on a roll," Bell said. "He has a good splitter and he's not afraid to challenge hitters, and he took that into the winter league.

"He can start, and his mentality is to be a closer. He enjoys the competition of being at the back of the bullpen and pitching in that role."

Newby is a success story already. He was Arizona's 50th-round choice in 2005 out of Mesa (Ariz.) CC and made it all the way to majors for one day in 2010. His fastball ranges from 88-91 mph as a starter, but it spikes up a little bit when he throws out of the bullpen. A slider is his third pitch. Newby, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, also gets hitters off balance with a slight pause in his delivery just before he releases the ball, which has worked to disrupt timing.

Snake Bites

• The Diamondbacks signed the Owings brothers to minor league deals. Micah Owings, a third-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2005 who was traded to the Reds in 2008,  will have a shot to make the parent club in long relief and will spend some time at first base in spring training, general manager Kevin Towers said. Jon Mark Owings, who spent six years in the Braves organization, played 2010 with the Sioux City Explorers of the independent American Association.

• Jacob Cruz will make his coaching debut as short-season Yakima's hitting coach. He also played for Sioux City last year.