03 May 2012
When CF Chris Young went on the Disabled List on April 18th, the Diamondbacks recalled OF A.J. Pollock from AAA Reno. But Pollock has really struggled in the Majors, going just 3 for 25 over 11 games, with just one walk and zero extra base hits. Remember that Pollock had played one full season at the AA level followed by just 12 games at AAA, and he appears to be overmatched at the Major League level right now. While he has only struck out four times, he has hit very few balls hard over the last two weeks.
What other options do the Diamondbacks have to play CF besides Gerardo Parra? At AAA Reno, the two centerfielders are Adam Eaton and Evan Frey. Eaton, 23, has played just 15 games in AAA and 67 games in AA. He does have a .439 OBP at AAA, and a career OBP of .455 for his Minor League career. But he has as little experience as Pollock, and may run into similar problems in the Majors. Frey, 26, has a .232/.357/.317 line for Reno, but his low slugging percentage (career .365) probably doesn't suggest success in the Majors. Another AAA option could be Cole Gillespie, but he is hitting only .194/.290/.269 so far this year.
The best option for the Diamondbacks may be 28 year old Brent Clevlen, who was recently signed to AA Mobile. Clevlen has Major League experience, having played 59 games in the Majors with a career line of .234/.280/.429. While the OBP has been low, he has good power and can play all three outfield positions effectively. The same has been true in Mobile this year, as Clevlen is hitting .280/.315/.520 in his first 13 games. As a right-handed batter, he would be a natural platoon partner for Parra in CF. Plus, he may be better suited to a part-time role than Pollock and Eaton, who would be better off playing every day in AAA than getting one or two starts a week in the Majors. And he would provide a power option on the bench, which is something the team is lacking.
We'll see if the Diamondbacks decide to make a move. One problem is that Clevlen is not on the 40-Man roster, although the current roster does not seem to be full (19 Pitchers, 3 Catchers, 9 Infielders, 7 Outfielders = 38 players, plus the recently released Jonathan Albaladejo and Geoff Blum on the 60-Day DL) . If they had to, they could decide to transfer Stephen Drew to the 60-Day DL, which would mean that he could not return to the Majors until early June, or designate someone else for assignment (Yonata Ortega? Cole Gillespie? Sam Demel? Mike Zagurski?). But it doesn't seem necessary right now, if the roster on the Diamondbacks web site is accurate. In any case, it wouldn't be a surprise to see A.J. Pollock sent back to AAA, and someone else given a shot as the 4th outfielder.