Familiar Names & Top Prospects Featured in Aces’ Potential 2023 Lineup
March 8, 2023
Reno, Nev. – With the Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona, in full swing, the competition for those final spots between the big-league roster and the 2023 Reno Aces squad will come to the last few days of camp. Once the decisions on the big-league roster are finalized, it
Reno, Nev. – With the Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona, in full swing, the competition for those final spots between the big-league roster and the 2023 Reno Aces squad will come to the last few days of camp. Once the decisions on the big-league roster are finalized, it looks like Aces’ manager Blake Lalli will have a solid combination of returning faces and potential new names that will help Reno defend its Pacific Coast League championship this season.
Let’s dive into some potential position players that could play for the Aces during the 2023 season.
Familiar Faces –Jose Herrera, Dominic Miroglio, and Juan Centeno
With the addition of Gabriel Moreno from Toronto in the Daulton Varsho trade, the D-backs will have a solid tandem between Carson Kelly and Moreno behind the dish. This leaves Jose Herrera, also on Arizona’s 40-man roster, likely to return to Reno as the primary catcher. Herrera is an elite defender with one of the top throwing arms behind the plate in the Pacific Coast League.
Miroglio played the entire 2022 campaign with the Aces, where he showcased his leadership, handling of pitchers, and plus defensive skills in 63 games with Reno. He hit .257/.342/.481 with ten home runs and 37 RBI last year. Aces fans can look for him on Team Italy’s roster with teammates Dominic Fletcher and Mitchell Stumpo during the World Baseball Classic this spring.
Centeno played most of last year with Double-A Amarillo, with a brief stint with the Aces. In 91 games, the Arecibo, Puerto Rico native, hit .305/.355/.512 with 40 extra-base hits (15 home runs) and 67 RBI.
Potential New Names – Ali Sanchez and P.J. Higgins
Also competing for a spot on the Reno Aces roster are a pair of backstops with major-league experience. Sanchez was acquired in the off-season from the Pirates, as the 26-year-old had a couple of cups of coffee with the Mets in 2020 and the Cardinals in 2021. The Carora, Venezuela native, played 74 games at Triple-A Indianapolis last season and hit .262/.354/389 with a wRC+ of 101.
Higgins also is fighting for a spot with Reno as he looks to bounce back entirely from his Tommy John surgery in 2021. The Old Dominion Product comes from the Chicago Cubs and has split time between catcher and first base. In 74 games with Chicago last year, he hit .229/.310/.383 with six home runs.
Led by Pacific Coast League Championship Game MVP Jake Hager, the Aces’ infield will potentially have several familiar names returning to Greater Nevada Field. Hager showcased his versatility as a strong defender with the ability to play every position in the infield and even suited up as an outfielder in a few games for the Aces last year. The Henderson, Nev. native saw action in 72 games with Reno and 28 with Diamondbacks in 2022.
Alexander, Arizona’s No. 11 Top Prospects by Baseball America, was promoted to Reno during the final week of the regular season and was in the starting lineup for the Aces in the playoffs. The Bradenton, Florida native possesses one of the best infield arms in Arizona’s system as the slick-fielding shortstop broke out offensively last season. He was second in the D-backs organization in OPS (.929), ranked fifth in slugging percentage (.540), and was one of six Arizona farmhands to reach the 20-home-run plateau.
Kennedy spent most of the 2022 season with the Aces but made his MLB debut on June 17th. Aces fans shared in the special ‘Call to the Show’ moment as the Millville, New Jersey native’s viral call-up video was one of the most viewed in all MiLB. During his time in Reno, the 24-year-old split time between second and third base while producing a .261 batting average and 24 extra-base hits in 93 games.
Beer and Duzenack have been fan favorites at Greater Nevada Field during their time in an Aces uniform. Beer will continue to be a power threat playing first base or DH, while Duzenack would add another Ace that can play multiple positions in the field. Last year, Duzenack played all nine positions in one game on September 26th against the Tacoma Rainiers.
Potential New Names – Phillip Evans and Yairo Munoz
The Diamondbacks signed Evans as a minor-league free agent in the off-season after he played for the New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, last year. The San Diego State product has played in four seasons at the major-league level, including a career-high 76 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021. In 103 games with Scranton last season, he saw action at five different positions to go along with a .244 batting average and 33 RBI, and 45 runs scored.
Munoz split the 2022 season between the Philadelphia Phillies and their Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley. While with the Iron Pigs, the 28-year-old utilityman hit .310/.338/.437 with 22 extra-base hits and 37 RBI in 72 games in the International League. Since 2018, the Nagua, Dominican Republic native, has seen big-league action with the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, and Phillies.
Familiar Faces – Dominic Fletcher, Dominic Canzone, Pavin Smith, and Alek Thomas
Fletcher and Canzone were cornerstone pieces down the stretch run for the Aces en route to the 2022 championship. Fletcher hit .312 in 133 games between Amarillo, and Reno led the D-backs organization in hits (163), doubles (35), triples (10), extra-base hits (57), and runs scored (98). His offensive and defensive skills will be displayed in the World Baseball Classic this spring as the Arkansas product will play with his brother, Los Angeles Angels infielder David Fletcher, on Team Italy.
Like Fletcher, Canzone spent most of last season between the Sod Poodles and Aces. In 106 games between the outfield and first base, the Ohio State product was one of five D-backs farmhands with 22-plus home runs and ranked fourth in the system with 89 RBI.
Smith and Thomas could be a part of the Aces picture as both split their seasons between Arizona and Reno during the 2022 campaign considering the Diamondbacks’ roster has exceptional depth in the outfield, and both will be competing for spots at the big-league level, which will likely not be determined until the final few days of camp. Adding either name would be a massive boost to the Aces’ lineup, but their substantial Triple-A numbers will mean their time in the “Biggest Little City” this time around could be short.
Potential New Names – Jorge Barrosa and Kyle Lewis
Barrosa had a solid season for Double-A Amarillo and High-A Hillsboro. The 22-year-old native of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, hit .276/.374/.438 in 120 games. He finished the season tied for the lead in the organization with 67 walks. He also ranked third in the system in doubles (33) and was in the top five in hits (132).
Not long ago, Lewis was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2020. Still, two injury-plagued seasons allowed the Diamondbacks to acquire the former first-round pick in an off-season trade in exchange for former Aces outfielder/catcher Cooper Hummel. The former Mercer standout’s 2022 season was reduced to 46 minor-league games and 18 with the Mariners. He is also competing with Thomas and Smith for a big-league roster spot as a right-handed alternative in Arizona’s limited outfield spots.
Look for the final Reno Aces roster to be set before the 2023 season opener at Greater Nevada Field on Friday, March 31st, against the Las Vegas Aviators, Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Season Memberships are available via RenoAces.com, texting “MEMBER” to 21003, or calling (775) 334-7000. Single Game tickets go on sale this Saturday, March 4th, at 10:00 am via RenoAces.com, the Greater Nevada Field Ticket Office, or by texting “TIXX” to 21003.