D-backs' moves create ripple effect through Minors
Arizona's staff puts in extra work as top prospects, numerous others get promotions
CHICAGO -- It seemed like a pair of simple moves Tuesday when the D-backs placed reliever J.J. Putz on the 15-day disabled list, optioned starter Mike Bolsinger to Triple-A Reno and called up reliever Evan Marshall from Reno and starter Chase Anderson from Double-A Mobile.
But the moves created a ripple effect throughout the D-backs' farm system that had player development director Mike Bell and his staff working overtime.
In all, there were 17 moves made throughout Arizona's organization Monday and Tuesday, a lot of which were related to the two moves made at the top.
It's a part of the process that fans do not often see.
With Marshall -- the D-backs' No. 20 prospect -- heading to the big leagues, that left Reno short a reliever, so Matt Stites, who is Arizona's No. 8 prospect and was pitching well at Mobile, got promoted to Reno.
But that left Mobile short a reliever, so Jimmie Sherfy, who is the D-backs' No. 14 prospect and was dominating at Class A Visalia, was promoted to Mobile.
Of course that left Visalia short a reliever, so J.R. Bradley, who had not allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings for Class A South Bend, got sent up to Visalia.
"It was a terrific opportunity to get the really good looking arms we had at the back end moving to more advanced levels," Bell said.
Lefty Steve Hathaway was promoted from the team's extended spring program to South Bend to take the place of Bradley.
Anderson's rotation spot in Mobile was a little trickier to fill, and the team reached down into the extended spring program and sent right-hander Sean Furney all the way up to Mobile. Furney pitched one game for Rookie-level Missoula last year and 15 for the team's entry in the Arizona Rookie League.
"Sometimes you're asking guys to do some pretty difficult things," Bell said of Furney. "He got late notice, 'Hey you're going to Mobile, and by the way, you're starting.' He went out and gave them four solid innings."
If that sounds like a lot of moving parts, well, it is, and the only way to be ready for such things is to plan ahead.
To do that, Bell stays in constant contact with Minor League field coordinator Tony Perezchica and pitching coordinator Dan Carlson. They, in turn, keep in contact with the other coordinators and Minor League managers and coaches -- as does Bell -- to keep on top of all the players in the system.
Player development assistant T.J. Lasita also does some scouting for Bell as well as preparing statistical reports that help in the decision-making process.
The talk is always about what-if scenarios.
"We're prepared for these things," Bell said. "We know that if one of our back-end bullpen guys goes, these are the moves we'll probably make to fill spots, these are the guys that are ready to move up. You need to kind of have a running list. What starters can help at the big league level short term and long term? What relievers are ready? What relievers need more time? What are we going to do if we need a late-inning guy in Reno? How will that impact the other teams?"
Bell also leans heavily on the organization's scouts, particularly scouting director Ray Montgomery, who Bell says has an excellent feel for the players since Montgomery was the one that drafted them.
"I think all of us are fearful that we are going to make a decision that will put one of our players in a situation that is not best for them," Bell said. "So that pushes us to get as much information as we can from as many different people as we can to make sure we're doing the right thing."
Deciding which players are going where is only one half of the puzzle. The other is how to get them where they need to go.
Heading to or from the big leagues is handled by D-backs senior director of team travel Roger Riley.
When it comes to other moves in the system, those are handled by director of Minor League administration Susan Webner, and the logistics of that can be mind boggling.
"Susan Webner has been doing this for a long time," Bell said. "When I got the job, I told her, 'Please don't let me screw up.' And she hasn't. She's on top of everything -- schedules, where teams are at. It's one of those things where you know how much there is involved and it makes you cringe."
For instance, if a player needs to join South Bend and the team is playing in Bowling Green. Well there's not a lot of flights in and out of Bowling Green, Ky., so Webner has to know what the alternative airports are. Then once a player lands, she has to take into account how he's going to get from the airport to the hotel or ballpark.
So while Webner books the flights and arranges the transportation, she also has to work with the accounting department to make sure that money is transferred into a player's account so he can pay for baggage fees and the like.
Webner then has to make sure the moves get entered into the Major League Baseball computer system promptly and correctly.
It is a lot of work for a number of different people, but at the end of a day like Tuesday, they go home happy because it means that players are moving up through the ranks.
"It was really a special day with all the prospects moving and young guys getting a chance in the big leagues," Bell said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.