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Diamondbacks Set Their Rotation For Start Of Spring Training With One Notable Surprise

The Arizona Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson, announced his top eight starting pitchers and the order they would be throwing in the opening days of Spring Training. He expects each starter named to pitch about two innings and throw around 30 pitches.

It was known for some time now that there would be eight guys battling for the five spots in the rotation but Jarrod Parker was always on that list and has now surprisingly dropped off in favor of Wade Miley.

Parker, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2009, is listed as the organization's top prospect by most observers and just a week ago was called a "special pitcher" by GM Kevin Towers. There's no word yet on why Parker lost this opportunity to Miley and at this point, there's certainly nothing written in stone.

"I've stated previous that there's really no position set and I have an open mind right through to the end," Gibson said about his rotation.

Miley was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round (43rd) in 2008. He's a hard-throwing lefty who has several breaking pitches in addition to his mid-90's fast ball. In three years of minor league ball (292 innings, 58 games) he has an ERA of 3.41 and a WHIP of 1.367. In his most recent assignment with AA Mobile he had an ERA of just 1.98 in 13 starts. 

The baseball web site Fangraphs lists him as the team's eighth-ranked prospect and say this about the 24-year-old:

His stuff has fluctuated wildly during his pro career, but he flashes above-average velocity for a left-hander and his heater occasionally hits the mid-90s but he sits more in the 89-93 mph range. He has a diverse repertoire, which includes a curveball, slider, changeup and cutter. Despite his good velocity, Miley does not strike out many batters - his K/9 rates sat at 5.60 in high-A and 7.80 in double-A last season. He also struggles with his command and control.

According to Gibson, hitters were impressed with Miley's stuff in live batting practice, asking, "who is this guy"? 

As for Parker, Gibby said, "He may get in one of these games, I'm not saying that. I'm pretty much just (listing) the starters right now."

The ways the list was presented was with one starting pitcher followed by another starter who would enter the game after the first had thrown his two innings. Here's the order with Saunders and Miley kicking things off against the Giants on Friday. 

1. Joe Saunders /  Wade Miley

2. Aaron Heilman /  Zach Duke

3. Ian Kennedy / Daniel Hudson

4. Armando Galarraga / Barry Enright

The pairings were made based on multiple factors including the split-squad games coming up on the schedule. Aaron Heilman and Zach Duke are second in the rotation so they can handle those opportunities to get extended innings.

Gibson also said that the second time through the order he could see flip-flopping Hudson and Galarraga and possibly Duke. These pairings will account for the first four innings of each Spring Training game which leaves the five following innings to each be handled by a different reliever. 

"Everyone's feeling good, throwing the ball good. Time to get ready to go," Gibby said about his staff.