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No. 10 prospect Clarke makes immediate impact

First pitcher since 1969 to record a save, get a hit in debut
@SteveGilbertMLB
April 20, 2019

CHICAGO -- It didn’t take Taylor Clarke long to make an impact in the Majors. Called up from Triple-A Reno on Saturday to add some depth to a tired Arizona bullpen, Clarke tossed three shutout innings in his Major League debut, picking up a save and his first career hit

CHICAGO -- It didn’t take Taylor Clarke long to make an impact in the Majors.

Called up from Triple-A Reno on Saturday to add some depth to a tired Arizona bullpen, Clarke tossed three shutout innings in his Major League debut, picking up a save and his first career hit in the D-backs' 6-0 win over the Cubs.

The D-backs have used their two long relievers -- Matt Andriese and Matt Koch -- a lot recently, so they chose to add an extra pitcher in Clarke while optioning outfielder Tim Locastro to Reno.

Clarke relieved starter Zack Greinke in the seventh inning Saturday and allowed just one hit over the final frames.

“It’s pretty fun,” Clarke said. “It’s just pretty special to be a part of that and experience all that and have success. It kind of just went fast. I mean, I tried not to get too overwhelmed by it. I just tried to focus on what I was throwing and take it one pitch at a time, then I got into the dugout and they’re like, ‘You’re hitting.’”

Clarke did not bring any bats with him when called up, so he took the first one handed to him. It happened to be from first baseman Christian Walker, who came into the game with the Majors’ best hard-hit rate at 73.2 percent.

As for batting gloves, well, Clarke didn’t figure he’d need those, so he left them in his locker.

“I just had a good grip barehand, which I used to do in high school, so it wasn’t that new to me,” he said. “Then I just got a fastball right where I wanted it and put a good swing on it. I guess I owe Walker a lot of credit for the bat.”

Clarke is ranked as the organization’s No. 10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. His stay in the big leagues could be short, as the team is expecting the newly acquired Blake Swihart to report Monday in Pittsburgh. Arizona will then likely go back to carrying 12 pitchers rather than 13.

Clarke, 25, was set to start Friday for Reno when he got a call midway through the day from Aces manager Chris Cron informing him that he was being scratched from his start and could possibly be headed to the big leagues for the first time.

“I was just trying to stay nice and calm when he gave me that phone call,” Clarke said. “Just still trying to process it all and take it all in. It’s definitely a dream come true.”

D-backs to use Swihart in OF
Swihart, who was acquired Friday along with $500,000 in international bonus pool money from the Red Sox in exchange for Minor League outfielder Marcus Wilson, still has some loose ends to tie up in Boston before joining the D-backs.

“Blake’s a pretty good player and we feel like there’s a lot of offensive potential there and we want to try and uncover that,” Lovullo said.

When Swihart does arrive, the D-backs do not plan to use him as a catcher initially, the position where he spent most of his time in Boston. Instead, they want to use him at the corner outfield positions to give left fielder David Peralta and right fielder Adam Jones some time off.

“We have to watch out for the amount of games played for David and Adam,” Lovullo said. “I know that they will disagree with that because they want to play every single day, but we’ve got to find some depth and I think this creates a little bit of an opportunity to get Blake on the field and get those guys some rest when it’s needed.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.