Per a team release, the Diamondbacks optioned catcher Caleb Joseph to Triple A Reno. Tim Locastro has been recalled to take his place on the roster, while right-hander Matt Koch – DFA’ed over the weekend – has been outrighted to Reno.
While playing all three outfield positions, Locastro went 4-11 over nine games (.364 AVG) in his first stint with the big league club this season. He has continued his hot hitting in Reno, going 17-43 (.395 AVG) with a .458 OBP and five home runs. He was sent down just two weeks ago to make room for Taylor Clarke as the team awaited the arrival of Blake Swihart from Boston. While Clarke only stayed long enough to record one scoreless, 3-inning save, the Diamondbacks have cycled through a number of players in their 25th roster spot since Locastro’s demotion, including Jimmie Sherfy, Jon Duplantier, and Koch before activating lefty T.J. McFarland from the 10-day IL for his first action of the season. Despite the rotating clubhouse door, the D-backs have soared in that time, going 7-2 in their last nine games and 12-4 over their last sixteen.
Joseph, 32, returns to Triple-A as Arizona will make due with only two catchers on the 25-man roster for a time. The former Oriole started five games behind the dish this season, hitting only .176/.176/.235. Carson Kelly (.182/.211/.309) and John Ryan Murphy (.222/.317/.500) should benefit from additional playing time in what is already a fairly widespread timeshare. Kelly has started a team-leading 12 times through the season’s first month, with Murphy starting ten times, Joseph five, and injured veteran Alex Avila starting four times. There’s certainly something to be said for avoiding undue pressure on Kelly early on after he was acquired for team icon Paul Goldschmidt, but after starting slowly with the bat, manager Torey Lovullo may be ready to give Kelly a bigger slice of the pie moving into May. Joseph’s demotion aught to at least temporarily afford Kelly opportunity for regularity, though the Diamondbacks generally prefer to carry three catchers and it’s safe to assume Kelly/Murphy have a limited window to take advantage of the two-man game. Swihart, of course, could serve as a third catcher, but the club has been pretty forthright about their plans to use Swihart primarily in the field.
Koch, meanwhile, heads to Triple-A after struggling through nine games out of the Diamondbacks bullpen. He did soak up some volume for the Snakes, spanning 20 2/3 innings with five multi-inning outings and three appearances of at least four innings. All in all, four home runs allowed certainly contributed to a 9.15 ERA, but he also surrendered more than a hit per inning while striking out only 3.5 K/9. Fun fact: the 28-year-old heads to Reno tied with Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull as the current league leader in hit batsmen with five.