Diamondbacks Waive Catcher James Skelton

The Arizona Diamondbacks waived catcher and Rule 5 draft selection James Skelton on Wednesday. Skelton must now clear waivers before the D-backs offer him back to the Detroit Tigers for $25,000. If the Tigers decline the offer, Skelton may report to the Diamondbacks' minor leagues.

The chances of the Detroit Tigers not wanting Skelton back in their system are almost non-existent.  He was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft not because the Tigers had soured on him in any way, but rather because they did not believe anyone would take a risk on a player who had only 24 games of experience above Single-A ball.  Skelton proved this spring that he was not yet ready for major league pitching, as he went 6-for-40 (.150) with just one double and one RBI.  The Diamondbacks also weren't certain that he could handle positions besides catcher well enough, which he would need to have done playing behind two other backstops.

Josh Wilson, Joshua Whitesell, and Ryan Roberts are the three players now battling for the final position player spot on the 25-man roster.  Roberts is the clear favorite, as he can play anywhere on defense, even catcher, as he showed in March.  He was bating .304 with six doubles, two homers, and nine RBI through April 1st. 

Wilson is another strong candidate, as he has led the D-backs with 23 hits so far this spring.    He primarily plays second, third, and shortstop, manning each position at a high level.  The offense he has displayed this spring is a surprise out of line within his professional track record.

Whitesell is the least likely candidate, as first base is his only viable position.  He has crushed the ball this spring with a .450 OBP and .551 SLG, but is blocked by veteran Tony Clark, who is also limited to first base.  Should Clark, Chad Tracy, or perhaps even Conor Jackson fall prey to an injury, Whitesell would certainly get called up and factor into the first base/pinch hitter platoon.

The club will make its decision on this trio of players over the weekend.  The Diamondbacks' 40-man roster has been trimmed to 37 this past week with Skelton's departure and the outright assignments of pitcher Travis Blackley and outfielder Alex Romero.

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