SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Diamondbacks' game against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday provided a perfect "only-in-spring-training" moment when D-backs starter Patrick Corbin was removed from the game after throwing five hitless innings. The outing was just the latest and most impressive performance from the 22-year-old left-hander.
While he has flown under the radar a bit compared with Arizona's elite pitching prospects Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs, Corbin has put together an impressive spring and might just have done enough to make himself the D-backs' first option in the minors this season.
"We all look at (Bauer) and Tyler Skaggs as the guys everybody talks about," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Tuesday. "But as I said earlier in camp, there'll be somebody that will make an impression on us, and Patrick's one of those guys."
Corbin showed the D-backs enough to survive two rounds of cuts -- the second of which saw Bauer sent out -- and Gibson said Monday he and Skaggs would be in major league camp through most of the remainder of spring training. As if Corbin's spring impression wasn't strong enough already, he went out Tuesday and made sure everyone took notice.
After issuing a four-pitch walk to start the game, Corbin retired 14 of 15 batters to hold Colorado hitless over five innings. He only allowed two base runners, both on walks, and struck out three.
"The first two innings I felt a little rusty, couldn't find the strike zone as well," Corbin said. "After the first two innings I was able to pound the zone in and out and able to throw my breaking ball for a strike and a strikeout pitch, which I felt really good about today. That pitch is really coming along."
Gibson refused to shut the door on Corbin's chances to make the Opening Day roster.
"There's some things that still could happen," Gibson said. "He's come out of the bullpen for us, he's started for us, and again, he's very athletic with what he does. If he should go down (to the minors), we would feel very confident bringing him back."
In four major league appearances this spring, Corbin has thrown 15 23 innings (three starts) and allowed just one run. The run came in his first outing, and he has since thrown 14 scoreless innings, allowing just six hits.
Corbin's strong day also went beyond the mound, as he went 2 for 2 at the plate, including a run-scoring triple in the fourth inning.
"We work on (pitchers' hitting) all the time," Gibson said. "He's come a long way with that as well. He didn't have a very good swing initially."
Even before Corbin's impressive showing Tuesday, Gibson spoke highly of Corbin and the way he has risen to the occasion with each opportunity he's been given. Tuesday's chance came because the D-backs wanted Daniel Hudson to throw in an intrasquad game so the Rockies, who the D-backs play the second weekend of the season, wouldn't get an extra look at him.
"He's done well," Gibson said. "We'll continue to give him tests. We keep trying to get these guys as much (major league) exposure as we can in preparation."
In preparation for what, exactly? Anything and everything. With Corbin, Bauer, Skaggs, Charles Brewer, Wade Miley and Barry Enright, the D-backs are not short on options should a starting pitcher get hurt or traded, or if the team needs a long arm in the bullpen. Corbin's spring seems to have helped him climb the depth chart into position as one of the first considerations.
But is Corbin major league ready now?
"We're trying to determine that," Gibson said. "He's pretty close. I think he's pretty mature, and he's got more experience than some of the other guys."
Corbin, part of the haul in the 2010 Dan Haren trade (along with Skaggs), was a second-round draft pick in 2009 and spent last summer at Double-A Mobile, where he went 9-8 with a 4.21 ERA. He's 26-14 in his minor-league career with a 4.00 ERA.
Gibson wouldn't say much about how Corbin fits into the future of the rotation, but he's definitely in the mix if he stays on this trajectory.
"I dont know, but he's done well so far," Gibson said. "They all have. We've got Wade Miley in the mix as well, Charley Brewer, Bauer. Weve got some good arms, guys that grasp what we try to do."
Corbin, like the rest of the pitching surplus, also gives the D-backs a solid trading chip, which could prove crucial if the team is unable to re-sign Miguel Montero and has to acquire a catcher.
With the rotation set and the bullpen relatively firm, Corbin might be unable to crack the roster no matter how well be does this spring, but regardless, he's put himself on the short-term radar.
"I've worked hard in the offseason like I do every year and I just came in here just trying to show them what I can do," Corbin said. "I feel like I've done that coming here pitching as best as I could and just getting a shot to see what happens this year."