There’s a lot going on Daytona right now that should have Tortugas fans excited to get to the ballpark. After a slow start to the season that included some time spent on the injured list, 2020 1st round pick Austin Hendrick has really begun to heat up and turn things around of late.
Over the last three weeks, Austin Hendrick has failed to get on base in just one of the 17 games he’s played in. He’s gone 17-59 with 16 walks, seven doubles, and three home runs for Daytona in that span. The now 20-year-old outfielder has scored 12 runs and driven in 13 more while hitting .288/.447/.559.
The walks have been there all season. So have the strikeouts. Right now through 210 plate appearances on the season, Hendrick has a walk rate of 21% (44 walks). He also has a strikeout rate of 36% (75 strikeouts). Both numbers are incredibly high.
What makes it tougher to truly gauge is why exactly it’s happening. Don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely swing-and-miss happening here. But the Low-A Southeast isn’t like any other league in baseball right now. They are using the automated strikezone this season utilizing Hawkeye (the same system in Major League Baseball that supplies all of the Statcast data). That’s in place in every ballpark in the league….. except in Daytona where the home plate umpires are still making the calls. That’s meant that all season the players on the Tortugas have had to try and figure out two different strikezones – one at home and one on the road. But there’s more – two weeks ago the league changed up the size and shape of the automated strikezone. It’s now a few inches wider and a few inches shorter than the one from earlier in the season. Daytona’s now had three different strikezones to try and figure out during the season.
When it comes to looking at the stats in the league this season, knowing the context here is going to be quite important.
Elly De La Cruz. Wow.
“Wow.” That was the text message I got last week from a scout about Elly De La Cruz. Last night was another one of those “wow” moments/games for the 19-year-old infielder in Daytona. He went 3-4 with a walk, double, triple, and a steal. He has only played in 21 games for Daytona, and he only had 11 games in Goodyear with the Arizona Complex League Reds, but he’s been the story of the year on the farm. In those 32 games he’s now hitting .331/.370/.676 with 12 doubles, 7 triples, and 7 home runs. That’s 26-extra-base hits in 32 games played.
The old saying is that triples are more a function of luck than speed. And they are probably mostly right about that. But we also know that speed certainly helps. Elly De La Cruz is a plus runner who has plenty of speed to burn. And despite playing in just 21 games in the Low-A Southeast he’s currently second in the league with 5 triples – just one behind Victor Mesa of Jupiter. Mesa has played in 78 games.