In a rather minor move on Saturday morning, the Arizona Diamondbacks sent Tim Locastro to AAA and called up Taylor Clarke, a 25-year old right handed pitcher. Clarke started the year at AAA, his third taste of the level, so it was only a matter of time before he got the call, where he will likely see the bulk of his innings in a long relief role, although a fifth starter is his best fit long term.
Clarke comes from a high 3/4 slot but has an inconsistent delivery in terms of arm speed and effort at the finish of his delivery. There are times he can get the fastball into the mid-90s with ease, while others he pulls hard on the finish leading to some command issues. Most will likely give him average to better grades in that respect as he is a strike thrower, but he is more control over command to me, and he can miss in the zone even if those misses aren’t hit hard.
The fastball touches 95 and has some real run at its best which would typically be a 60 grade pitch, but the command concerns make it play more 50-55. He also has a cutting slider that can be an average offering and a curve that typically plays below average but can be an average pitch when at its best, a good 12-6 break. He does have a solid change that keeps hitters off balance when the delivery matches the fastball, although there are inconsistencies there.
None of his pitches are true swing-and-miss offerings, and he doesn’t get a lot of ground balls, which could be a concern when pitching at home or at Coors, although there is enough variety in his offerings he does miss a lot of barrels. As I mentioned off the top, he is probably best suited as a fifth starter as he does have the body to eat innings, although an average fifth starter might be his ceiling. My guess is he starts as the last man in the bullpen who can go an inning or two if a starter gets knocked out of the game early or eat the 5 innings in a long extra innings affair. I expect Clarke to bounce back and forth between Phoenix and Reno but should be able to stick in Arizona long enough this season to exhaust his rookie eligibility.