PHOENIX – First, it was the outfield.
Throughout the 2022 season, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen reached for the future and declared the moment is now. By August, prospects like Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, Stone Garrett and Corbin Carroll were no longer prospects but contributors at the major league level.
Then, pitching prospects received equal attention. With the team languishing near .500, and no hope for any postseason consideration, Hazen and other decision-makers pushed the clock ahead.
This included an accelerated look at lefty Tommy Henry and righty Ryne Nelson, and an opportunity to showcase skills. The result was successful auditions before field manager Torey Lovullo and pitching coach Brent Strom.
On Thursday night, it was righthander Drey Jameson’s turn and in his major league debut, the 25-year-old native of Greenville, Ind. delivered a stunning effort against the San Diego Padres.
In seven stellar innings, Jamison allowed only three baserunners and finished with an economy of 90 pitches. Former Diamondbacks’ Brandon Drury collected both hits. That included a one-out single in the second and a lead-off double in the fifth. The other baserunner was a one-out walk to Josh Bell in the second. Recording his first major league win in his initial start, that was the extend of Jamison’s charity.
“There is a little more on the line here than in the minors,” Jamison said. “It’s something I’ve been waiting for my entire life. I’m taking this one pitch at a time.”
The key for Jamison was first-pitch strikes and getting ahead of hitters. On a slight frame of 6-feet, 170 pounds, Jamison arrived in the majors with a reputation of throwing close to 100 miles-per-hour on nearly every pitch. Against the Padres Thursday night, his velocity was constantly in the mid-90s and reached 97 and 98 with several pitchers.
Power aside, Jamison credits a work ethic and the ability to execute as key factors in reaching the majors. At that level, he points out, success is not generated by power and velocity.
“In spring training, I was trying to throw that 100 miles-per-hour fastball,” he said. “Then, I found out in AAA a 100 miles-per-hour pitch works sometimes, but guys catch up to that. Now for me, it’s more about location. Going to a general area is crucial for me because if I get away with a 98 or 100 fastball, that will let me feed off the slider. I would say the biggest thing for me is becoming a pitcher and not a thrower.”
The stature and poise Jamison displayed caught immediate attention. From his first pitch, the communication with catcher Carson Kelly was as dramatic as it was telling.
“I think (Jamison) had some nervousness early on but settled in,” said Kelly. “He was similar to (lefty Tommy Henry earlier this season) with the poise and the understanding of the game plan. He stuck with the plan, made adjustments along the way and I was impressed; very, very impressed.”
Jamison used the four-seam fastball and sinker as out pitches. Afterward, Kelly told reporters that these pitches represented his strength and as a pitcher just called to the majors, there should be little deviation.
To the expectation, Jamison did not deviate and as a result, now makes preparation for his next start. That will likely occur in Dodger Stadium in one of the games of a scheduled doubleheader this coming Tuesday.
Backing up Jamison … Leading off the fourth inning, Ketel Marte gave Jamison an early lead with his 11th homer of the season in an eventual 4-0 victory over the San Diego Padres before 17,129 in Chase Field. The blast was his first since July 27 at home against the Giants. Also reaching seats Thursday was Emmanuel Rivera (in the fourth with two-outs) and Carson Kelly in the seventh with one out… Including the win over the Padres Thursday, the Diamondbacks hit six homers in last their two games …
Honors for August … the Diamondbacks announced their minor league players of-the-month for August. Among position players, infielder Leandro Cedeno earned the honor. With AA Amarillo, Cedeno hit .398 with four doubles, eight homers, knocked in 23 runs, and score 27 runs in 24 games. For pitchers, the award went to righthander Brandon Pfaadt. With the AAA Reno Aces, Pfaadt went 3-0, a 2.03 ERA. Among AAA pitchers, he was second in ERA, strikeouts, and opponent’s average and fifth in innings pitched during the month.
The homestand continues with the Padres … On Friday night, look for lefty Madison Bumgardner (6-14, 4.88 ERA) to take the mound and oppose veteran lefty Blake Snell (6-9, 4.02). On Saturday, it’s righty Zac Gallen (12-2, 2.50) opposing right-hander Joe Musgrove (9-7, 3.28). For the finale Sunday afternoon, righty Ryne Nelson (1-0, 0.00) draws veteran right-hander Yu Darvish (14-7, 3.16) as his opponent. Then, it’s off to Dodger Stadium and a five-game series, including a doubleheader on Tuesday, and right back to Chase Field next weekend. A three-game series with the San Francisco Giants concludes the home portion of the 2022 schedule.