Bees Bullets: Previewing Bees Vs. Reno Aces

Apr 18, 2023, 2:58 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – The Aces head to Salt Lake with their cupboards stocked with MLB-level potential in the first matchup of 2023 between these teams.

The Bees (8-7) open their second home series of 2023 with a six-game set against the Reno Aces (5-9). This series begins on Tuesday, April 18 with a 6:35 p.m. (MT) first pitch.

Reno enters the series losers of their last two games while Salt Lake comes in riding a three-game losing streak. Bees pitchers gave up 29 runs in the final three games in Las Vegas. The Aces pitching staff wasn’t much better against Sacramento, with the River Cats scoring 32 runs in two weekend games.

RELATED: Bees Bullets: Salt Lake Drops Three Straight In Las Vegas

The Arizona Diamondbacks, parent club for the Aces, entered the season boasting the third-highest-rated farm system in all of MLB. Unfortunately for Bees fans, of the Diamondbacks’ four Top-100 prospects, only starting pitcher Brandon Pfaadt (No. 59) enters the series on Reno’s roster.

All prospect rankings are from

Reno Aces Top Prospects

No. 3 Brandon Pfaadt – Starting Pitcher

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55

Pfaadt was a fifth-round selection of the Diamondbacks in the abbreviated 2020 MLB player draft out of Division II Bellarmine.

Entering his age-24 season, Pfaadt returns to Triple-A after closing 2022 with a 5-1 record and 2.63 earned run average in 10 starts with Reno.

A strike thrower, Pfaadt struck out 74 batters in 61.2 Triple-A innings, walking just 14. His 4.8 percent walk rate was the lowest for qualified players in the Diamondbacks minor league system.

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The 6’4 righty uses a mid-90s fastball mixed with a low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup. Pfaadt occasionally uses a curveball to keep hitters off balance.

Pfaadt is 1-1 with a 5.40 earned run average in three starts this season. He allowed two runs, scattering six hits in his most recent start on April 14 against Sacramento.

No. 6 Blake Walston – Starting Pitcher

Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

Arizona made Walston their 2019 first-round pick (26th overall) out of Hanover HS in North Carolina.

Since being drafted, the 6’5 left-hander has been slowly developed in the Diamondbacks system, reaching Triple-A for the first time in 2023.

In the low-90s with his fastball, Walston sometimes hits 95 but without consistency. An above-average changeup, sweeping slider, and change-of-pace curveball round out his pitch mix.

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Walston is 0-1 with a 5.56 earned run average in three starts this season. He has struggled with command at times, walking nine batters in 11.1 innings.

No. 9 Blaze Alexander – Infielder

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 70 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

A versatile infielder, Arizona picked Alexander with their 11th-round selection in the 2018 draft out of IMG Academy.

Alexander reached Triple-A for the first time in 2022. He hit .259 in a seven-game cup of coffee to end the season. Defensively, Alexander is said to have plus-plus arm strength at shortstop but is capable of playing second or third base as well.

Alexander was hitting .458 with 11 hits in nine games before getting hit in the head by a pitch on April 13. Alexander was placed on the seven-day IL and may not be available against Salt Lake. He is eligible to return from the IL on Friday, April 21.

RELATED: Current State Of MLB Relocation/Expansion Talks

No. 10 Slade Cecconi – Starting Pitcher

Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45

A 2020 competitive balance pick (33rd overall) by the Diamondbacks, Cecconi was assigned to Triple-A for the first time out of spring training.

A 6’4 right-hander, Cecconi runs his fastball up in the upper-90s. He offsets that with a mid-80s slider that has good late movement, a curveball, and a low-80s changeup that he is still perfecting.

Cecconi has struggled in first first Triple-A experience. Currently 0-1 with an 11.81 earned run average, opponents have a .385 batting average against Cecconi in 10.2 2023 innings.

RELATED: Nightengale: Relocating A’s Might Be Better Option Than Expansion Team For Salt Lake City

No. 13 Jorge Barrosa – Outfielder

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 70 | Overall: 45

The switch-hitting Barrosa signed with Arizona in 2017 out of Venezuela.

Listed at 5’9 and 165 pounds, Barrosa is more a defensive & speed threat than a guy with much pop in his bat, though he did show some power in 2022 with 13 long balls.

Barrosa is hitting .316 in limited appearances with Reno this season.

No. 15 Dominic Fletcher -Outfielder

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45

Selected by the Diamondbacks with a competitive balance pick out of Arkansas in 2019, Fletcher played more that 100 games with Reno in 2022.

Last season, Fletcher hit .301 five home runs, 29 doubles and 38 runs batted in with Reno last season. Through 12 games in 2023, Fletcher has struggled to a .224 average with one home run.

Dominic’s brother, David Fletcher, was recently waived from the Angels 40-man roster and is expected to be assigned to Salt Lake this week. Both played for Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

No. 20 Dominic Canzone – Outfielder/First Base

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 40 | Overall: 40

The Diamondbacks eighth round pick in 2019, Canzone never had a batting average lower than .323 in three season at Ohio State.

In his first full season of pro ball, Canzone’s approach at the plate continued to shine as he hit .302 in 79 games between High-A and Double-A. He was promoted to Reno last season after hitting .400 in 15 Double-A games.

In 2023, Canzone is hitting .302 with four home runs and 14 runs batted in.

Up Next

Salt Lake returns to the friendly confines of Smith’s Ballpark to take on the Reno Aces in a six-game series scheduled to open on Tuesday, April 18. First pitch for Tuesday night’s game is 6:35 p.m. (MT).

Jake Kalish (1-1, 6.57 ERA) is expected to get the start in game one against Tommy Henry (0-0, 7.63 ERA)

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Bees Bullets: Previewing Bees Vs. Reno Aces