7/28/2013 12:47 A.M. ET
D-backs second-round pick thriving early
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Selected 52nd overall by Arizona in the second round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Justin Williams is already flourishing in his first taste of professional baseball, playing for the Arizona League (Rookie) D-backs.
Williams, a 17-year-old outfielder from Terrebonne High School (Houma, La.), is batting .356 with seven doubles and a league-leading 23 RBIs in just 22 games.
"It's going great," Williams said. "This is a great organization and we have a fun group of guys. I'm just trying to stay focused and get better with every chance I get. It's a dream come true."
So what's been the biggest adjustment coming straight from the prep ranks?
"Pitchers here are more precise and you see low-to-mid 90s almost every day," he said. "Plus high school guys will leave it over the plate, but here they put the ball where they want."
Also new to Williams in professional baseball is the type of tutoring he receives on a daily basis. His batting coach is none other than former D-backs and Cubs great Mark Grace, who Williams credits for a lot of his early success.
"He is just naturally gifted with the bat in his hand," Grace said. "He knows he's good, but he's not arrogant. He's one of those guys that hits when he wants to. It seems like every time there are a couple guys on base, mail it in. This kid is good."
Skaggs sent down following rocky outing
PHOENIX -- After struggling with his command over 3 2/3 innings on Saturday night, Tyler Skaggs was optioned to Triple-A Reno. The club will make a corresponding move Sunday and call up an extra arm for the bullpen.
Once Skaggs' spot in the rotation comes around again, Brandon McCarthy, who completed his rehab stint in Reno on Friday, will be activated and take his place.
Skaggs allowed just three hits Saturday, but walked five batters and hit two more as he surrendered seven earned runs, the most of any start in his young career.
"It's my fault, it's not on anybody behind me, it's me not throwing strikes," Skaggs said. "I just could not find the zone with any pitch."
Skaggs began the season as the D-backs' top ranked prospect, but in six 2013 starts the 22-year-old has a 5.35 ERA.
"He wants to be better, we want him to be better, but he's got a good future ahead of him," Gibson said. "It's part of his development."
McCarthy scheduled to join D-backs in Boston
A day after Brandon McCarthy completed his rehab stint with Triple-A Reno, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson announced the right-hander will rejoin the club's rotation in Boston next week and pitch in place of Tyler Skaggs, who was optioned to Reno following his rough outing Saturday night.
On the disabled list since June 1 with right shoulder inflammation McCarthy threw 85 pitches over six innings on Friday in Reno, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits.
"It was good, honestly, everything was there," McCarthy said. "I felt comfortable and I was able to get back into mental game shape. Nothing bothered me. I was able to get into the sixth and felt strong. I felt like I had more in the tank, too, so that was encouraging. In terms of pitching, I feel like I'm where I need to be."
McCarthy believes he'll be able to jump right back into the swing of things, especially since he has gone through the same recovery process with his shoulder several times in his career, including twice last season.
"The first time or two I went through this, I came back and was garbage because it feels like Game 7 of the World Series when you come back, you're amped and there's too much energy," he said. "Now I feel like when I come back again, it's just a normal start."
With the Trade Deadline approaching, McCarthy hopes he and Trevor Cahill (right hip), who isn't far behind, can give the D-backs a lift similar to if the club acquired a player via a trade.
McCarthy is 2-4 with a 5.00 ERA in 11 starts while Cahill has gone 3-10 with a 4.66 ERA.
"We sucked in the first half, there weren't a lot of positives except for a few starts here and there," McCarthy said. "So I think it's a point of pride for both of us to come back and pitch well. If you go out and trade for someone, it is kind of a slight. I get it, but just from a point of pride, you want to be that guy. If you want to call it a deadline acquisition, I think that's fair."
Rested Montero returns to D-backs lineup
PHOENIX -- After missing four games with back inflammation, D-backs catcher Miguel Montero returned to the lineup Saturday, batting seventh and catching Tyler Skaggs.
"I definitely was hurting, but it's good to be back," Montero said. "I feel good."
The four games off was the most time Montero had missed in a row since the middle of May last season, when he sat five games with a groin injury. The D-backs hope the time off will refresh Montero, who is hitting .224 this month after a solid June in which he batted .278.
"He should be recharged," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I hope it does some good for him, he did a lot of strengthening the last couple days."
To help ensure Montero stays healthy for the remainder of the season, Gibson has said in recent days he plans to use backup catcher Wil Nieves more regularly down the stretch. Even after the four days off, Montero still entered Saturday leading the Majors in innings caught with 778.
• As planned, Aaron Hill (right hamstring) was out of the lineup Saturday after being removed from the game early on Friday. The veteran second baseman is expected to return Sunday.
• With an off-day coming on Monday, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he might give Paul Goldschmidt a day off Sunday so the All-Star can rest back-to-back days. Entering Saturday's game, Goldschmidt was hitless in his last 10 at-bats.
• On the disabled list since mid-June, Matt Reynolds played catch with a lightened baseball this week and plans to begin throwing regularly with a normal ball off flat ground next week.
"It's getting the motion back so that when I go to a regular baseball, everything is comfortable and smooth and I won't risk injuring it again," Reynolds said.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.