The Double-A Arkansas Travelers last season hit just 21 home runs as a team at home and 63 at the other seven Texas League venues, easily the largest disparity in the league. Hardly an isolated incident, North Little Rock's Dickey-Stephens Park is a notorious pitcher's park.
That foreknowledge didn't stop Angels center field uber-prospect Mike Trout from homering in yesterday's 15-inning, 4-3 win by Arkansas against Frisco. The 19-year-old racked up seven total bases and scored twice in batting 3-for-6 with a single and a double to go with his homer. The jump to Double-A after 50 games in high Class A a year ago has done little to deter Trout, who now is batting .318/.412/.659 with four homers and a 7/9 walk/strikeout ratio on the young season.
Angels pitching prospect Garrett Richards, a righthander, pitched the first eight innings for Arkansas, limiting Frisco to two runs on 10 hits. He struck out four and walked none, improving his season ratio to 14-to-7.
• The Angels other dynamic, tooled-up prospect, Jean Segura, went 2-for-4 yesterday for high Class A Inland Empire, raising his season line to .412/.474/.569 through 51 at-bats. A second baseman through last season, Segura moved across the keystone to play shortstop this season. The 21-year-old has committed only one error through 12 games (.983 fielding percentage).
• The Nationals' 22nd-round pick last year from Kansas, righty Cameron Selik completed five scoreless innings for low Class A Hagerstown yesterday, running his season-opening tally to 15 innings. Only the Mets' Matt Harvey (16 innings for high Class A St. Lucie) has a 0.00 ERA with more work.
• Speaking of Mets pitching prospects, Harvey is only one of three righthanders in the system to carry a scoreless streak through at least 12 innings. Triple-A Buffalo's Jenrry Mejia, who starts today, has allowed no runs on seven hits through 12 2/3 innings, while Double-A Binghamton's Brad Holt has logged 12 innings, also giving up no runs on seven hits.
• Rick Ankiel may be the most successful pitcher-to-position player conversion since Babe Ruth, but those daunting odds haven't stopped others from attempting to follow in his footsteps. Amateur two-way standouts such as the Blue Jays' Adam Loewen (Chipola JC) and the Astros' Brian Bogusevic (Tulane) washed out as pitchers but kept their pro careers alive by migrating to right field. The fourth overall pick in 2000, the Royals' Mike Stodolka (HS—Corona, Calif.) attempted the same switch in ’06 before calling it quits after the ’08 season. The Diamondbacks' Micah Owings (a college teammate of Bogusevic's at Tulane) has pitched well in two starts for Triple-A Reno (2.70 ERA in 10 innings, 7/3 strikeouts/walks) this season, but with a big league batting line of .293/.323/.538 with nine home runs in 198 plate appearances, he might ditch pitching once and for all if he hits an extended rough spot.
The latest ex-pitcher to try to make his way as a position player is the Phillies' Joe Savery, a first baseman with high Class A Clearwater. The 25-year-old from Rice collected two hits in three at-bats yesterday and now has a hit in 10 of 11 games this season. Oh, and he leads all minor leaguers with his .550 average—that's 22-for-40 with five extra-base hits.
With an average draft position of 13th overall, the quartet of Loewen, Bogusevic, Stodolka and Savery all went off the board in the first round, luring teams with their potential as lefthaned pitchers. But the fact that all four also bat lefthanded—not to mention the nearly $8.5 million in bonus money paid out—has played a role in extending their careers.
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