A traditional Magic 8 Ball has 20 possible outcomes when you ask a question and shake it. It has 10 positive outcomes, 5 neutral outcomes, and 5 negative outcomes. We are going to narrow this down a bit as we ask our Magic Snake Ball questions. The Magic Snake Ball will have 2 each positive, neutral, and negative. They will be; signs point to yes and most likely for positive, for the two neutral answers we will have, ask again later and cannot predict now, as far as the possible negative answers, don't count on it and very doubtful. So, I am going to write a series of fun, lighthearted, articles where in the end we ask the Magic Snake Ball to answer a question about our beloved Diamondbacks. So grab it with both hands, give it a good shake, and let's see what the answer is!
As we shake the Magic Snake waiting for a result, here is some background on the Diamondback catcher. His full name is Jose Gregorio Herrera, he is from Venezuela and is the definition of homegrown talent. The Arizona Diamondbacks signed him as a free agent on July 8th, 2013. He then made his debut with the organization for the Arizona League Diamondbacks as well as the rookie-level Missoula Osprey in 2014. Herrera started his career with the Diamondbacks well as in the AZL he hit a slash line of .304/.415/.380 in 24 games with them in 2015. When he returned to Missoula in 2016 he hit a slash line of .277/.351/.438 with 5 home runs and18 RBIs in 36 appearances. In 2017 he played in 66 games, mostly with the Single-A affiliate Kane County Cougars he had 1 home run 29 RBIs, and a slash line of .227/.291/.318.
Just as he was rising up the depth charts and prospects lists, he was suspended for 50 games by MiLB for testing positive for two different banned substances, Methylhexaneamine and Oxilofrine. Methylhexaneamine, also known as DMAA, was developed by Eli Lily and Company and marketed as an inhaled nasal decongestant from 1948 until it was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in the 1970s. Since 2006 methylhexanamine has been sold extensively under many names as a stimulator and energy-boosting dietary supplement but its safety has been questioned as several adverse events, and at least five deaths have been associated with methylhexanamine-containing supplements. They are banned by many sports authorities and governmental agencies. Yet despite multiple warning letters from the FDA, as of 2019, the stimulant remains available in sports and weight loss supplements. Oxilofrine is basically the same sort of substance. But Jose is not the only player who has been banned in the minors for these drugs as Marcus Stroman was banned for Methylhexaneamine and Michael Kopech for Oxilofrine.
Herrera only played in 38 games in 2018 due to the suspension. In 2019, Herrera split the year between Kane County and the High-A Visalia Rawhide, slashing .252/.383/.371 with 5 home runs and 43 RBI in 90 total games. Herrera did not play in a game in 2020 due to the cancellation of the minor league season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then split the 2021 season between the AA Amarillo Sod Poodles and the Triple-A Reno Aces, batting a combined .258/.364/.422 with career-highs in home runs (11) and RBI (57).
Last Friday, in his first game back from the COVID-19 injured list Herrera went 3-4 with two runs. Nevertheless, he is improving at the plate, and the numbers tell us so. In his last 30 games, his batting average was.212 In the previous 15 games, his average has gone up to .282. In the last seven games, it has improved even more to .333. In addition, his defense is more than adequate; in 21 games over 161 innings, teams have nine total stolen bases off him, and he has caught five would-be base stealers with a .971 fielding percentage, although he has four errors and two pass balls.
I am not sure if he will be part of the next great Diamondback team. But I believe the switch-hitting backstop has accomplished one crucial thing for Arizona. He has done enough to be the backup catcher. Combine that with the emergence of Alek Thomas in center field that will subsequently push Daulton Varsho to catching duties to keep him in the line-up has essentially made catcher Carson Kelly a trade candidate, which will be explored in an upcoming article. But, let's see what the magic snake ball says when we abruptly stop shaking it ...... cannot predict it now.