D-backs Farm Rumblings: Honors for Kevin Cron and Jackson Goddard

The week in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league system:

• Reno’s pitching staff continues to struggle, but they’ve got some hitters.

• A Jackson infield prospect is getting hot.

• Kane County has two starting pitchers spearheading its recent stellar play.

Reno Aces (Triple-A Pacific Coast League)

For the week: 1-6
For the season: 14-23 (4th place in Pacific Northern Division; 5.0 games behind Fresno)

The Reno pitching staff was feeling a little generous last Monday night in a 12-6 road loss to Sacramento. Starter Braden Shipley and reliever Anthony Vasquez combined to give up seven home runs in the loss. Shipley offered up two long balls over four innings and Vasquez got touched up for five round-trippers over the next three innings. River Cats right fielder Mac Williamson hit three on the night, victimizing both pitchers.

It’s no surprise that Reno’s team ERA (6.47) is the worst in the PCL (it’s been in the bottom five of the league every year since 2015), but what is a little bit shocking is that five of the seven pitchers who have started two or more games this season for the Aces have ERAs over 6.00.

Shortstop Ildemaro Vargas is back in Reno after being demoted by the Diamondbacks, and he’s picked up right where he left off. Vargas went 3-for-3 with a double and a triple in his 2019 PCL debut Saturday night in an 8-7 loss to Salt Lake. He followed that up with another three-hit performance Sunday in an 9-3 loss to the Bees. Vargas hit .311 last season for the Aces and ranked second in the league with 167 hits.

Vargas also hit a milestone with his second base hit Sunday.

“El Tigre” proved to be pretty good with the glove, too.

Third baseman Kevin Cron homered on Tuesday and Wednesday, giving him 14 for the season, which is tied for the PCL league lead.

Cron got some recognition from the big club for his stellar April.

The Aces took the field in special uniforms Saturday night as Los Corazones de Reno.

Jackson Generals (Double-A Southern League)

For the week: 3-2
For the season: 18-16 (3rd place in North Division; 4.0 games behind Montgomery)

Jackson right-hander Riley Smith was good in a recent start last Monday. The bad news is his counterpart, Birmingham’s Kyle Kubat, was better. Smith allowed only three hits and one unearned run over seven innings, but Kubat threw seven scoreless frames in a 2-0 Barons’ win. Over his last four starts, Smith, a 24th-round pick out of LSU in 2016, has allowed just two earned runs over 25 innings — a stellar ERA of 0.72.

Third baseman Drew Ellis and center fielder Ben DeLuzio — hitting eighth and ninth in the order — combined to go 6-for-9 with four runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI to power the Generals to an easy 10-3 win over Birmingham Wednesday night.

Ellis, the D-backs’ 15th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, had quite the week at the plate, hitting .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs and three RBI.

Visalia Rawhide (High-A California League)

For the week: 3-3
For the season: 25-12 (1st place in North Division; 8.0 games ahead of Modesto)

Jeff Bain, a 23-year-old right-hander has carved out his space in Farm Rumblings once again. Wednesday, Bain threw five innings, allowing just three hits and one unearned run in a 6-1 win at Lake Elsinore. The 2017 16th-round pick out of Cal has won three of his past four starts while posting a respectable 3.28 ERA over that span.

Visalia second baseman Camden Duzenack hit a solo home run off of Rancho Cucamonga reliever Cameron Strain in the sixth inning Sunday, which ended up being the Rawhide’s only round-tripper of the week. Prior to Sunday, Duzenack was the last Visalia player to leave the yard when he hit his seventh and eighth home runs of the year on May 5.

Trailing 7-6 heading into the eighth inning Sunday, the Rawhide rallied, pushing across a single run to tie and then added four in the ninth to hand Rancho Cucamonga an 11-7 loss. Mark Karaviotis had an RBI single in the eighth, and then highlighted the ninth with a two-run single that scored Jose Caballero and Jancarlos Cintron.

Kane County Cougars (Single-A Midwest League)

For the week: 4-2
For the season: 21-15 (3rd place in Western Division; 2.5 games behind Quad Cities)

Right-hander Matt Tabor, a third-round pick out of Milton Academy in Massachusetts in 2017, has been used sparingly since debuting in pro ball two summers ago. But it’s undeniable — he’s been good. The 20-year-old, who is the D-backs’ fourth-best right-handed pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his second start of the season Friday night. Tabor threw 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four in a 6-2 win over Lansing. He’s posted a 2.84 ERA over 73 minor league innings.

Kane County right-hander Jackson Goddard won a little hardware from the D-backs after a very impressive first month of the season.

Shortstop Blaze Alexander had a nice week at the plate for the Cougars, hitting .300 (6-for-20) with two home runs (his first two of the season) and seven RBI, which led all Arizona minor leaguers. The 19-year-old who is the D-backs’ 9th-best prospect has shaken off a slow start to the season and has raised his batting average 31 points in his last five games.