Contract of RP Jesus Balaguer Purchased by Arizona Organization

October 5, 2018 - Frontier League (FL) - Washington Wild Things News Release

WASHINGTON, Pa. - For the fourth time franchise history, the Washington Wild Things have had a player purchased by the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization. Friday, the Wild Things announced the D'Backs have purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Jesus Balaguer.

"When talking to him yesterday, he was very excited about the opportunity moving forward and so grateful for the time he spent in Washington," said assistant general manager of baseball operations Tony Buccilli. "He was able to come to the ballpark with a smile on his face every day, play with a great group of guys and be part of something very special as a Wild Thing."

Balaguer becomes the fourth player from the Wild Things' to have his contract purchased by the Arizona organization, joining Stewart Ijames, Scott Kalamar and Troy Marks. The three of those players moved into the D'Backs organization between 2014 and 2015.

The Cuban-born right hander is the second Wild Things' pitcher to move on to affiliated ball directly from the Wild Things' active roster in 2018, as left hander Nick Wegmann was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in June.

Balaguer played parts of two seasons in the Houston organization after three professionally in Cuba to start his pro career. Once he was released by the Astros, he came to Washington and dominated. In 10 regular season games, Balaguer had a K/9 of 17.0, fanning 34 batters in 18 innings of work, while scattering 12 hits and seven runs with 11 walks.

He'd go on to pitch in seven playoff games, including appearing in all five of the Frontier League Championship Series' games. In 7.2 playoff innings, he didn't allow a run and only allowed two hits while striking out 13 opposing batters. Had Washington won the series, Balaguer was a candidate for the Series MVP award.

"Jesus quickly became one of the best strikeout artists in the league upon joining us. The stability he brought our bullpen and the electricity he provided crowds were key factors in our push to the championship [series]," said Buccilli. "We heavily relied on Jesus and his demeanor carried over to others on our staff."

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One of the things the Frontier League prides itself on is its ability to move players back into, or to affiliated baseball. It's no different for the Wild Things, or any team in the league. The Frontier League has had more than 70 players purchased by affiliated organizations since May of 2016.

"We are in the business of creating memories for our fans and creating dreams for our players. We are always proud of success stories like Jesus' today, earning an opportunity to chase down his dream with Arizona," said Buccilli. "Not everyone's path is direct and streamline to their ultimate goal. We strive to make their experience in Washington, for however long that is, both memorable and beneficial to their future endeavors."

From the Wild Things' perspective, three players (all pitchers) that have played for the Wild Things have appeared on a big-league roster: Vidal Nuño, Tom Cochran and Chris Smith. Having a player's contract purchased is nothing new for the organization, either. Balaguer is the 38th player to have his contract purchased in the team's history, which is over two per year on average. Besides Wegmann going in the draft, Jesus is the first pitcher to move to the next level since pitchers Zac Grotz and Trevor Foss were purchased by the Dodgers and Indians, respectively, in 2016.

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The Wild Things wish Balaguer the best of luck in the next step of his career as he moves back into affiliated ball to chase his dream. The team is set to follow Balaguer's path, and will continue to look fondly on Jesus' days with the team, and the success he helped bring the organization on the field in 2018.

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