While out in Goodyear for spring training a few players caught my eye for one reason or another. I’ve written about some of them and I’ve yet to write about some of the others. Today I’m going to write about the guy that stood out the most, performance wise: Jose Siri.
Last year Jose Siri began the year with the Dayton Dragons and things didn’t go well. In fact, they went so poorly that he went back to extended spring training in early May after hitting .145 with two walks and 34 strikeouts in 87 plate appearances. He simply wasn’t ready for that level yet.
When the short-season leagues began he joined the Billings Mustangs. Things got much better there as the 20-year-old hit .320/.348/.560 with the Mustangs. One issue was still present though: the strikeout-to-walk ratio. While it improved on the 34-to-2 ratio in Dayton in the first four weeks, he still had 66 strikeouts and just eight walks with the Mustangs. The generally accepted ratio that’s at the bottom of the scale for being enough to make it work in the Major Leagues is 3-to-1. That leaves a whole lot of room for needed improvement moving forward.
Every time I saw Jose Siri at the plate over the course of three games he made contact. Every time he made contact he hit the ball hard. Really hard. We are dealing with an incredibly small sample size. It was just a few games over the course of five days, so let’s note the small sample size alert flashing in big bright red lights. With that said, several times I was able to see him hold back on offspeed offerings that he would have swung over, badly, in 2016.
In one game he fell a double short of the cycle. The triple that he hit was the softest hit ball he had the entire game. In the big league game that he played in on Saturday he doubled. Even his outs during the week were loud, hard hit outs (except for the strikeout in the big league game). He puts on a nice power display in batting practice. When he hits the ball it jumps off of his bat. That’s always been the case, and it certainly showed up in Billings in the second half last year.
I was able to speak to some coaches and instructors out there about him. One thing that was brought up was how much he matured in the offseason in terms of his approach. While I am going to want to see how that plays out during the 2017 season, the comments matched up with what little bit I was able to see out in Arizona.
The offensive tools have always been present for Siri (and the defensive ones for that matter). It’s the approach/pitch recognition that’s held them back from playing up. Given the past struggles in that department, I don’t want to say with confidence that I believe he will come out and hit the cover off of the ball this season. But, given what I saw and what I heard from some of the Reds staff, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did, either.