Nationals outfielder Destin Hood has always stood out for his raw physical tools. The biggest question for the former Alabama football recruit has been how those tools would translate to pro ball.
Based on the results of his first year in a full-season league, Hood looks to be coming along quicker than most ex-football players.
Hood, 20, got off to a great start at low Class A Hagerstown, hitting .356 in April, but his approach was still expectedly raw, as his 30 strikeouts against only three walks in 95 plate appearances attest. The hits started drying up over the next couple months, but the contact issues didn't. Hood bottomed out in June, batting just .225/.247/.315 in 89 at-bats. Suffice it to say he's pulled out of that slump in a big way.
Hood looks like he's turned a corner with his approach. He drew nearly as many walks in July (10) as he did in the first three months of the season combined (12). He cut down on his strikeouts at the same time and hit .324/.383/.490 in 102 at-bats in July, and has continued his hot hitting into August. Hood went 3-for-5 against Delmarva last night, his fourth multi-hit game in the last week, and he's hitting .327/.426/.462 in 52 at-bats so far this month. Hood has just a modest five home runs all season, but has the strength that he should be able to hit more as he matures, as some of his 28 doubles and three triples this year should start turning into long balls.
Back In The Saddle
Returning to Triple-A Sacramento after his forgettable first week in Oakland, Chris Carter hit his 28th home run of the year to help the River Cats knock off Iowa. Carter started in left field, where he'll spend the remainder of the season after manning first base for most of the year, and homered off Cubs righty Jay Jackson in the sixth inning. He finished the night 1-for-4, putting his Triple-A line at .266/.366/.534 in 429 at-bats.
Carter's time in the majors saw him drop to eighth in the minor league home run race, but he pulled back within four of minor league home run leader Paul Goldschmidt. Not that he wouldn't rather be hitting homers in the majors. He'll just have to settle for trying to help the River Cats—a fixture of the Triple-A postseason—catch Fresno, which leads Sacramento by two games for first place in their division.
Finding A Way
Triple-A Columbus righthander Carlos Carrasco didn't have his usual low- to mid-90s velocity on Tuesday night, but he still had enough to baffle Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's hitters for seven innings. As mentioned in yesterday's Prospect Bulletin (which subscribers can access here), Carrasco has learned to mix all of his pitches more effectively this year, so pitching with diminished velocity wouldn't have inhibited him too much. The 23-year-old permitted just five hits, walked none and struck out six. The win was his 10th of the year, putting his line at 10-5, 3.71 in 135 2/3 innings.
"(Carrasco's) fastball wasn't as strong as it is normally, but his command was good," Columbus catcher Damaso Espino told the Columbus Dispatch. "He pitched really well. There are days when (pitch velocity) is down, especially in August. It's late in the season."
Though he pitches in the shadow of teammate Tyler Matzek with low Class A Asheville, Rockies righthander Chris Balcom-Miller has quietly put together a solid first full season. Balcom-Miller, a 21-year-old who was a sixth-round pick last year form West Valley (Calif.) JC, won his fourth consecutive start yesterday, beating West Virginia with six innings of three-hit ball. He allowed one run, struck out seven and walked two.
Balcom-Miller doesn't have Matzek's upside, but what he does have is a good sinking fastball and a promising slider, allowing him to generate plenty of groundballs, including nine yesterday. Balcom-Miller improved to 5-6, 3.09 in 96 innings for the year. After a slow start, he's 5-2, 2.54 over his last 10 outings.
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