The Diamondbacks announced that they have selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Saalfrank, with righty Slade Cecconi optioned in the corresponding move. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, outfielder Dominic Fletcher was recalled and placed on the 60-day injured list due to a fractured left index finger. Prior to the official announcement, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reported that Saalfrank had a locker in the clubhouse and Cecconi did not.
Saalfrank, 26, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Diamondbacks in 2019. He made a brief professional debut in the lower levels of the system that year, but then the pandemic wiped out the minor leagues in 2020 and Saalfrank didn’t pitch in 2021. He split last year between High-A and Double-A, posting a combined 3.52 earned run average. He struck out 29.2% of opponents but walked 11.3%.
He went back to Double-A to start this year, tossing 33 1/3 innings with a 2.70 ERA. His 14.2% walk rate was quite high but he also struck out 31.9% of opponents while getting grounders on 64.9% of balls in play. He got promoted to Triple-A Reno and continued to thrive, despite that club playing in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He’s thrown 30 2/3 innings for the Aces with a 2.35 ERA, 37.5% strikeout rate, 11.7% walk rate and 60.3% ground ball rate.
That strong showing in the minors will get him a shot at getting major leaguers out, joining Kyle Nelson and Joe Mantiply as the club’s southpaw relief mix. Saalfrank will be making his major league debut as soon as he gets into a game.
As for Fletcher, he’s been on optional assignment since early July. He landed on the minor league injured list in late August, evidently due to this finger fracture. It seems the club doesn’t believe he’ll be back this year, as he is now ineligible to return within the remainder of the season.