Brian O’Grady missed a week in April. If he hadn’t we may be talking more about him than we have been. The Louisville Bats first baseman/outfielder has played in 18 games this season. And he’s been raking for almost every last one of them. Last night he went 2-4 with his 6th home run of the season. That helped push his line on the year to .375/.455/.734. His 1.189 OPS leads the International League by 58 points. He’s 4th in average and on-base percentage, and he’s on top of the leaderboard in slugging percentage.
Jose Siri making some adjustments?
For Jose Siri it’s always been apparent that the tools were there. On the bases, in the outfield, and at the plate. But he’s generally struggled in the past when it comes to plate discipline, and in particular drawing walks. Drawing walks became less of an issue when he reached the Double-A level. In 2018 with Pensacola he walked 24 times in 283 plate appearances. That was good for a rate of 8.5% – basically the average rate in the Major Leagues. But that also came with a whole lot of strikeouts – 91 of them to be exact. That was good for a 32.1% strikeout rate. Less than ideal.
This season, he’s back in Double-A with the Reds new affiliate, Chattanooga. After last night where he went 1-4 with a walk and a double, he’s racked up 101 plate appearances. He’s walked 10 times and he’s struck out 31 times. Each rate is slightly better than what it was last year at the level. But things have been changing a bit over the last two weeks for the center fielder.
In the first 13 games of the season he walked 5 times and had 22 strikeouts in 54 trips to the plate. That’s a 9.2% walk rate and a 40.7% strikeout rate. In the 12 games after that he’s walked 5 times with just 9 strikeouts over 47 plate appearances. The walk rate is basically the same, 10.6%. But he’s struck out just 19.1% of the time. He’s hitting .293/.370/.439 in that stretch.
Keeping an eye on Juan Martinez
When I go to minor league baseball games I show up at 3-3:30 for a 7pm game. The reason I do so is to watch the pre-game stuff. Batting practice, infield practice, what’s being worked on – a lot of the time there’s nothing worth noting from these things as it’s often much of the same stuff that you see each day. But every so often you will see something that is worth making a note of. That happened earlier this year in Dayton during batting practice when Juan Martinez hit a baseball way up off of the batters eye in Dayton. And the ball wasn’t coming straight down, either. It was a massive, long, hard hit baseball. And yes, it’s just batting practice. But it was also a sign of the power potential that the 20-year-old from Venezuela has in his bat, too.
Last season saw Martinez break out a bit in Billings. It’s a hitter friendly league, so you want to always be cautious if and when a guy takes a big step forward in that league. But for the third baseman, he went from having zero career home runs in 2016 and 2017 to hitting 8 in Billings, and he also added 10 doubles and a triple in 56 total games on the season (9 games were with the Greeneville Reds).
This season he’s only hit one home run thus far in 23 games played. But he’s also added in 9 doubles already. And he’s also upped the rate at which he’s walked, too. He’s hitting .289/.393/.447 on the season for the Dragons in 23 games played. And with the weather about to start changing in the Midwest League, the baseball is likely to start flying a bit more. Keep a bit of a closer eye on Martinez – he’s starting to get quite interesting at the plate.