When the Angels picked second baseman Taylor Lindsey in the supplemental first round last year, they were taking a player who was not a consensus pick. Other teams' scouts worried about whether Lindsey's swing was too much of a metal bat swing that wouldn't play nearly as well when he started swinging a wood bat.
It's only been a year since Lindsey signed, but it appears that the Angels were right, the second baseman doesn't seem to have a problem hitting with wood.
Lindsey hit for the cycle on Saturday night, adding an extra single for a 5-for-5 day for good measure. But as impressive as that night may have been, his overall season is even better. Lindsey is hitting .358/.396/.616. The Pioneer League is a great place for hitters (the league leader in batting Frazier Hall is hitting .400), but Lindsey is among the league's leaders in batting average, extra-base hits, hits and slugging percentage. The extra-base hits are notable as Lindsey projects to hit for below-average power.
NEARLY PERFECT: While several Rangers pitchers have had excellent seasons (including most notably Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who were just traded to the Padres), Miguel de los Santos has struggled to find his way at times this year.
That wasn't the case on Saturday night. De los Santos threw seven hitless innings against Potomac. His chances for a combined no-hitter fell apart when Potomac finally got its first and only hit of the night in the ninth, but de los Santos' seven hitless innings was easily his best outing of the season.
The 23-year-old lefthander needed four pro seasons to make it completely out of the Dominican Summer League, thanks in part to visa issues. Because of that, the Rangers tried to put him on the fast track since he's already on the 40-man roster, but he showed he wasn't ready for the jump from low Class A Hickory (where he pitched last year) to Double-A Frisco. De los Santos went 1-3, 8.64 in six starts with Frisco then was shut down with a minor shoulder strain.
When he was healthy enough to return, the Rangers sent him to high Class A Myrtle Beach, which de los Santos has found much more to his liking. De los Santos is still somewhat erratic—he walked four and gave up three runs in only 1 2/3 innings in his previous start, but he has generally settled down in high Class A. He's now 3-3, 2.95 in eight starts with the Pelicans.
De los Santos still faces a long road. Since he's already on the 40-man roster, he'll have to be on a reasonably accelerated timetable to make it to the majors before he runs out of options, but his low 90s fastball gives the Rangers' reasons to be patient.
SPEEDING UP THE TIMETABLE: When James Paxton didn't sign with the Blue Jays in 2009, his plan was to return to Kentucky for his senior season. But the NCAA quickly squelched that option with a standoff that left Paxton stuck. The NCAA wanted to investigate whether Paxton has used an agent in negotiations with the Blue Jays (something that nearly every early round draft pick does, even if it isn't admitted).
So instead Paxton ended up pitching in independent baseball to prep for the 2010 draft. Taken by the Mariners in the fourth round of the '10 draft, Paxton didn't sign until spring training this year. But for a pitcher who has had very little work over the past year and a half, the lefthander has had a very impressive debut.
Paxton went 3-3, 2.73 with low Class A Clinton (Midwest) before a July promotion to Double-A Jackson. He's been even better there, going 2-0, 1.97 with 41 strikeouts in 32 innings. Paxton struck out 10 in 6 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, which was his second double-digit strikeout game in his six Double-A starts.
GETTING BETTER: When Martin Perez made the jump to Double-A Frisco in 2009, he struggled to get adjusted to a new level. He's faced a similar problem with his promotion to Triple-A Round Rock this year.
In his first four starts Perez had an ugly 8.45 ERA with 36 hits allowed in 18 1/3 innings. Finally on Friday, Perez showed more of what makes him one of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in the game. Perez threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out eight while walking two and giving up two hits.
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