The Diamondbacks’ acquisition of Jean Segura from the Brewers has been the brunt of the focus of the baseball world since the trade went down on Saturday.
Lost in the shuffle of this trade is that the Diamondbacks also acquired another player in Tyler Wagner. With just three major league starts under his belt, this right-handed pitcher is far from a household name. So, who is he?
Wagner is currently ranked as the Diamondbacks’ tenth-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Prior to being traded, Baseball Essential had Wagner as the 13th–best prospect in Milwaukee’s system. He throws a mid-90’s fastball to go along with a slider, sinker and changeup. Baseball Essential’s scouting report on Wagner said that his go-to pitch is his slider.
Last July, Wagner was mentioned by MLB.com columnist and former scout Bernie Pleskoff as a “prospect to watch,” citing his control and 6-foot-3 frame. Pleskoff said that he felt Wagner was capable of becoming a back-of-the-rotation major league starter with the ability to eat innings.
Wagner was first drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of Utah, where he was a star reliever. In college, Wagner set his program’s single-season and career records for saves as he compiled a 2.72 collegiate ERA over 57 appearances. Prior to Utah, he played shortstop and pitched for Bishop Gorman High School, where he won a Nevada state championship in 2008. That year, Bishop Gorman was ranked second in the nation by Baseball America.
Wagner has been used as a starter in the minor leagues, where he has statistically excelled. In 88 starts over the last four seasons in the minors, Wagner has gone 35-23 with a 2.95 ERA. He has shown exceptional statistical improvement over the last two seasons, as he went 13-6 with a 1.85 ERA in High-A ball in 2014 and 11-5 with a 2.25 ERA in AA last season.
Wagner briefly spent time in the majors last season. He made one start in May before making a pair during the season’s final two weeks. The early results on Wagner’s career were not particularly positive, as he went 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA in the majors. He did, however, end the season on a high note: he allowed just one run in six innings during his last big-league start against the Cubs.
With the amount of depth the Diamondbacks have in their rotation to begin the season, Wagner is unlikely to become an MLB starter out of the gate. He figures to begin the season in Triple-A, with the chance of possibly reverting to his college roots and coming out of the bullpen later in the season—unless a rotation spot opens up.