Stromsmoe Is The Ultimate Utility Man
Infielder also saw some time on the mound
CARY, N.C.—Skyler Stromsmoe was the definition of an organizational player, and at the start of the 2011 season, he had less than 500 career at-bats as a pro thanks to injuries and a late start.
The 27-year-old Canadian grew up on a cattle ranch outside the town of Etizcom, Alberta, in the southwest corner of the province. He wound up at a junior college in the Kansas City area, then transferred to Southern Arkansas, where he played three seasons. He signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Division II school, and injuries and his own modest tools had kept him from ever having a regular job in the minors.
In 2011, though, promotions and an injury to regular shortstop Nick Noonan presented Stromsmoe—who said in the first part of the season he was often not on the active roster but still with Richmond—with an opportunity. The Giants, with few options, gave him a chance to play shortstop for Double-A Richmond.
He became the Flying Squirrels' everyday shortstop in early August and got hot in mid-August. A patient, pesky hitter, he brought patience to a lineup steeped in overly-aggressive hitters such as Charlie Culberson, Chris Dominguez and Francisco Peguero.
"I had an opportunity," Stromsmoe said, "and I was able to take advantage of it."
He even filled in on the mound when needed, pitching four times. And he made just four errors to help Richmond reach the playoffs, then went 8-for-26 with a game-winning homer in the postseason as Richmond eventually lost in four games to New Hampshire in the championship series.
"I can't say enough good things about him," Flying Squirrels manager Dave Machemer said. "He's not the prettiest player but he's (David) Eckstein-like in his approach to the game. He played all over the place for us the first part of the year and was steady when we put him at short. He did a lot for us and even throws a hell of a knuckleball."
Stromsmoe will make his first appearance on Canada's national team in the World Cup in Panama, which trained and scrimmaged with USA Baseball at the National Training Complex before departing for Panama.
• Stromsmoe's Richmond teammate, Scharlon Schoop, will join his younger brother on the Netherlands' World Cup roster.
• Dominguez reported to instructional league as one of the organization's highest-level players in camp. The Giants also have 2011 draftees such as first-rounder Joe Panik, third-rounder Ricky Oropesa and high Class A San Jose catcher Tommy Joseph in camp.