PHOENIX—Taylor Clarke doesn’t know why he throws from such an extreme, over-the-top arm slot, and he can’t really point to a particular reason why he has such pinpoint control of his fastball.
But those two attributes help make the 23-year-old righthander one of the more intriguing pitching prospects in the organization.
“He can be perfect, and it’s a plus fastball,” minor league pitching coordinator Dan Carlson said. “He can dot spots.”
In his first full season as a pro, Clarke went 12-9, 3.31 with 118 strikeouts and just 33 walks in 149.1 innings in 2016. He began the year at low Class A Kane County before rising all the way to Double-A Mobile.
Clarke, a 2015 third-round pick from College of Charleston, said his arm slot could be a result of his dad always urging him to stay on top of the ball and throw downhill. Whatever the reason, it’s the way he’s always thrown, and he believes it adds deception.
“The feedback I get from hitters is that the ball seems appear from nowhere,” he said.
Clarke added that he always has been good at commanding his fastball. He remembers walking just four batters in about 80 innings during his junior year in high school, and he walked 14 in 114 innings as a college junior.
“It wasn’t one of those things that happened overnight,” Clarke said. “It’s just constantly picking out your target and trying to hit it, and if you don’t, making an adjustment. It’s one of those things you constantly work on.”
Clarke’s slider is his best secondary pitch, but he said he is continuing to improve his changeup and curveball.
“He’s one of our top prospects, for sure,” Carlson said. “We need to build his innings up and make sure we don’t rush him before he’s ready. He’s one of those guys who is going to be a quality major league starter who everybody in the world would want.”
• Righthanded reliever Adam Miller, who missed most of the final three months of the 2016 season with a neck injury that ultimately required surgery, is expected to be ready to go for the start of spring training, according to farm director Mike Bell.
• Shortstop Sergio Alcantara finished his strong winter-ball showing by going 4-for-5 with a triple in Licey’s Dominican League-clinching victory.
— Nick Piecoro covers the Diamondbacks for AZCentral.com