It’s been a long first full season for Kyle Skipworth. The 19-year-old catcher, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Marlins, is hitting only .203/.257/.344 in 256 at-bats for low Class A Greensboro. He’s often looked overmatched at the plate, having a hard time catching up to fastballs or laying off breaking balls out of the zone, having struck out 89 times in 68 games. The lefty-hitting Skipworth has been especially bedeviled by lefthanded pitchers, who’ve held him to an .070/.091/.209 (3-for-43) line.
But last night, he made sure he would have at least one game to remember in what’s been a challenging season. Skipworth homered twice, the first multi-home run game of his young career, to lead Greensboro over Hickory 7-6. In the bottom of the fourth, Skipworth homered off Crawdads righthander Wilfredo Boscan, the first home run Boscan has given up to a lefthanded batter all sesaon.
Later, with the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Skipworth belted what proved to be the game-winning two-run home run to right field off reliever Jake Brigham. The shot was his seventh of the season.
"I wasn’t trying to hit a home run," Skipworth told the Greensboro News-Record about the homer off Boscan. "I was just trying not to pull off and stay through some pitches in case I got a changeup. Lucky I got a fastball and he got it up. I got out on the front part of my swing and it carried. It was nice to get the first one and get a quality at-bat off a guy who was throwing good."
Gose Still Going
By now, you’re probably familiar with Anthony Gose‘s base stealing exploits. The 18-year-old (he turns 19 Monday) center fielder retook the minor league stolen base lead last night, swiping two bases in low Class A Lakewood’s 4-3 loss to Lake County. That gives him 60 steals in 77 attempts. But Gose has shown he can do more than just steal bags.
The athletic 6-foot-1, 190 pound Gose is hitting .299/.377/.416 in the second half of the season. His nine triples on the year rank second in the South Atlantic League, and while he only has two home runs on the season, his manager sees all the other tools being there.
"When (Gose) comes to the ballpark everyday, he’s here to work and have fun," Lakewood manager Dusty Wathan said. "Any time a guy’s having fun, he’s going to have success. No matter what happens every day, he’s got a smile on his face and he’s excited to be here, and he just brings that to the clubhouse every day and it wears off on the other players. Once he gets on the bases, the whole game changes. It’s just exciting. You never know what could happen. He could hit a ball in the gap and run for a triple, he could steal a couple bases, maybe make a diving catch and throw somebody out. There’s been games where he’s done that all in the same game. He’s just an exciting player to watch with four tools, and you never know if the power comes later on.
"He’s still learning a lot (about stealing bases). His aptitude is so high that he learns it quickly. With some other players, it has to be repeated to them over and over. But he picks it up right away and is able to put things into a game situation almost immediately."