Freaky accident sidelines D-backs' No. 4 prospect for six weeks

May 1st, 2024

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHOENIX -- The bad luck with injuries is not just limited to the D-backs' players in the big leagues. It has also spread to the Minor League system.

Double-A Amarillo left-hander Yu-Min Lin, ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Arizona's system by MLB Pipeline, was sitting in the dugout during a game on Friday when he was struck in the face by a foul ball.

According to farm director Shaun Larkin, Lin suffered multiple fractures to his jaw area that will require surgery on Wednesday and will force him to miss around six weeks.

“It’s minor surgery, nothing major, but long-term it’s best for him to have it,” Larkin said. “Full return to play for him should be about six weeks. Injuries are never good, especially ones like that. It was just a freak thing. He’ll get after it when he gets back and he’ll have a good year. He’s going to be OK.”

Lin was the starting pitcher in the D-backs' Spring Breakout game against the Rockies on March 16, and he was impressive. Lin added a cut fastball during the offseason, and one of his main focuses when he returns will be continuing to refine that pitch to go with his fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.

“Making sure that’s consistent will give him a nice full arsenal of pitches,” Larkin said. “He can use the cutter more to righties. It will just give him more options. He’s still working on it. And when it’s good, it’s really good. And then some will back up on him, which is understandable because it’s still new. As his rehab process continues, it’s something he’ll continue to work on.”

We’ll stick with the pitching theme as we look at the other levels of the D-backs' system:

Triple-A Reno: Right-handed closer Christian Montes De Oca was promoted from Double-A Amarillo to Reno on April 18 after dominating in 4 1/3 innings for the Sod Poodles.

De Oca has a power arm with a fastball in the upper 90s and a sharp slider to go with it. He’s added a changeup that the organization thinks he can use as a weapon against left-handed hitters.

After two scoreless outings (three innings) with Reno, De Oca gave up seven runs (four earned) over 3 2/3 frames in his next two outings.

“I'm looking forward to him getting challenged,” Larkin said. “Dominating at every level is great, but you also want them to be challenged. He had a little hiccup recently -- and that’s good for him, it will make him battle tested. That’s why we put him there this early in the year.”

High-A Hillsboro: The Hops recently got a new addition, as right-handed reliever Jhosmer Alvarez got promoted from High-A Visalia on Tuesday after allowing just two runs over 10 innings in his first seven appearances of the year.

“Another big arm in the bullpen,” Larkin said. “He runs it up there 97 mph, 98 as well. He dominated Visalia to an extent, so he should really help the bullpen in Hillsboro.”

Single-A Visalia: Right-hander Landon Sims, the D-backs' No. 23 prospect, has been shifted from the rotation to the bullpen. Sims had Tommy John surgery in March 2022, in his final season for Mississippi State before Arizona selected him in the Competitive Round A of that year's MLB Draft.

“It’s not for a lack of performance, but just the way he profiles,” Larkin said. “He’ll have two-inning stints, more frequent outings and let him just go out there and rip it. He’s gaining confidence in his arm after the surgery. Let him go out there more often and let it loose. His velocity is ticking up again, which is great. He’s got the mentality of a back-end reliver and he loves the idea of moving back to the 'pen.”