While the Arizona Diamondbacks are currently the first wild card team in the National League, they will get a chance to see a potential part of their future tonight when they take on the Washington Nationals. Since Taijuan Walker is on paternity leave, Arizona is going to call up left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda from Triple-A Reno to start tonight:
Back in December 2016, John had Banda ranked as the number one prospect in the Diamondbacks organization. While Arizona’s farm system has taken a hit in recent years with the Dansby Swanson trade, that’s still a good honor to have. Here is what John wrote:
Anthony Banda, LHP, Grade B: Age 23, acquired in Gerardo Parra trade in 2014, posted 2.88 ERA in 150 innings in Double-A and Triple-A with 152/55 K/BB and 144 hits; pitched very well in difficult Pacific Coast League; smooth 6-2, 190 pound lefty with fastball at 90-94, peaks at 96; very good curveball out-pitch; change-up is mediocre; general control is ahead of his command to specific spots within the strike zone but he’s made progress and will be ready for a trial soon. Upside: number three starter. ETA 2017.
At Reno this season, Banda is 7-5 with a 5.08 ERA in 18 starts. The ERA’s in the Pacific Coast League tend to be high. However, his strikeouts per nine are down from 9.9 in Double-A last year to 8.3 this year (8.3 last year in Reno as well). Plus, he has walk over three batters per nine.
While the ERA is high, Banda has been the innings eater this year in the Reno rotation. He is one of six pitchers in the PCL to throw over 100 innings (101) and he’s thrown over 100 pitches in eight of his 18 starts (three of those outings were 110+ pitches).
As you will see in the video from his start against El Paso back on April 23, he has the pitch mix to generate strikeouts when needed. In this start, he struck out 11 over 5.2 innings:
A promotion should be celebrated, but Banda isn’t coming into his major league debut on the greatest of results to say the least. In his last start against Las Vegas on July 17, he gave up seven runs on 15 hits and struck out only one batter in five innings. You rarely see any pitcher stay in long enough to give up that many hits.
When pitching in a ballpark like Chase Field, the ball can tend to fly out of the ballpark. That might not help Banda when you consider his groundball percentage is at 41% this season while the flyball rate is at 36% (Fangraphs). With that being said, out of his 11 home runs allowed this year, three of them have been allowed in a visiting ballpark.
Since Walker should be back soon, Banda probably won’t be up in the big leagues for much long. However, he gets a chance to face one of the best offenses in baseball for his debut. It should be a good first test for him.