Are we really surprised?

Chris Carter
, 1B, Athletics (MEX: Guasave)
Tuesday’s stats: 1-for-4, HR (2), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K

Not that it’s a big surprise or anything, but Carter is mashing again, with two home runs in his first three winter league games. The bad news is that he’s also struck out eight times in 13 at-bats, as the Mexican League is filled with finesse pitchers who throw strikes and spin a variety of quality breaking balls. That’s exactly the kind of competition Carter needs reps against if he’s going to compete for the first base job next spring.

Showing off everything he can do in one day

Trayvon Robinson
, OF, Dodgers (AFL: Peoria Javelinas)
Tuesday’s stats: 1-for-3, 3B, R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 SB

Works the count, hits for gap-to-plus power at times, runs very well, at times expands the strike zone, and whiffs a bit too much. That’s pretty much Robinson’s game in a nutshell right now, and every aspect of it was on display Wednesday. There are a lot of questions out there right now about what Robinson is right now. If he can truly play center field, he’s a starter for many, but if he doesn’t improve his jumps and routes and is forced to move to a corner in the end, he’s a bit of a tweener for some, which equals a fourth outfielder. The jury is still out.

Welcome to the pros

Dustin Ackley
, OF, Mariners (AFL: Peoria Javelinas)
Tuesday’s stats: 2-for-4, R

Ackley hit ninth in the Javelinas lineup yesterday, which I guess is fair. No need to put too much pressure on the kid in his first game, even if he was the best hitting prospect in the lineup. Just as exciting is the fact that he was playing center field, his true future position. He’s going to keep hitting here, probably beginning 2010 at Double-A, and don’t be surprised if his minor league career is over by next September-he’s that polished.

Blast from the past

Richard Hidalgo
, OF, Astros (VEN: Magallanes)
Tuesday’s stats: 3-for-5, 3 2B, 2 RBI

While he hasn’t played in the big leagues since a disastrous .221/.289/.416 showing for the Rangers in 2005, Hidalgo is still plugging away back at home. Ten years ago, he was among the best hitters in the game, but his career was derailed by injuries and off-field issues. He officially retired in 2007, but who knows? Maybe he got the bug again, or hell, maybe he just likes playing baseball. Who cares? It’s just a fun name to see in the box score.

Others of Note

  • Dominic Brown
    , OF, Phillies (AFL), 2-for-5, 2 2B, RBI: Two doubles and a home run in two games, as the power keeps on comin’ on.

  • Cole Gillespie
    , OF, Diamondbacks (AFL), 3-for-3, RBI, 2 BB: Sleeper alert? The former Brewer seems to have found his swing again after being traded for Felipe Lopez.

  • Austin Romine
    , C, Yankees (AFL), 3-for-4, RBI: Scouts would like to see him improve against the running game; his bat is plus-plus for the position.

  • Ruben Tejada
    , SS, Mets (AFL), 2-for-5, 2 R, RBI: He doesn’t blow anyone away with his tools, but his fundamentals and makeup are outstanding.

  • Josh Thole
    , C, Mets (VEN), 2-for-5, 2 RBI: Your Opening Day 2010 catcher for the Mets?

  • Donald Veal
    , LHP, Pirates (AFL), 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K: The Rule 5 pick is going back to starting; he touched 94 and threw 14 of 18 pitches for strikes.

  • Josh Vitters
    , 3B, Cubs (AFL), 3-for-4, 2B: Slowed by injury in the second half, but he’s still one of the more impressive bats around.
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Minor correction -- Ackley was ninth in the order yesterday.
Yes -- I saw the listing that had him above the pitcher (who of course doesn't hit), thus the brain fart.
Romine seems to get overshadowed by Montero in the Yankees system, but he's a guy scouts think can stick at C, right (unlike Montero)? Does he project as: 1) backup; 2) average ML starting C; 3) solidly above average; or 4) a star?
Yes, he can stay at catcher. I can find scouts who think the answer to your second question is 2, and I can find guys who think the answer is 4.
Thanks. Makes sense, since he hasn't been to AA yet. The hitting lines from A-ball don't jump off the page.
Remember, that's the Florida State League -- 13 home runs in Tampa is actually a pretty good number.
Can Ackley hit like a pre-2009 Joe Mauer?
KG, are the Brewers going to really regret that Lopez for Gillespie swat in the long run (or even next year?)... just seems like he's been raking ever since leaving their organization.
Ackley can absolutely hit like Mauer pre2009. Both have a special ability to "square the ball" and hit line drives everywhere. Mauer is bigger so his power was always assumed would come...Ackley is smaller and he can still take it out but probably won't turn into a 25+ HR guy. Can he be a Grady Sizemore type? I think so with a higher BA and OBP. It was a treat to watch Ackley in person here at UNC....since he started swinging his freshman year you could see he was different. It's amazing he was not heavily scouted/drafted out of HS.
Great. How's his defense? The M's have a stacked defensive OF right now, two of whom (Gutierrez and Ichiro) can hit. I wouldn't move Frank out of center field if he didn't hit for extra bases all next season (I'm exaggerating, but a +20 runs/150 games CF according to UZR is just ridiculously good.) What does that say for his future position? Honestly, I really liked the Ackley to second rumors that I was hearing simply because the M's are pretty deep in OF prosepects (even if none have Ackley's ceiling) and kinda short MI prospects.
Ackley can fly, but who knows how his route running and jumps will develop. Everything I've read about Gutierrez suggests he doesn't have great speed, but is still an elite defender because of his jumps and routes. Ackley definitely has more speed, but the finer points will determine what kind of defender he ends up. I don't think he's really played enough OF for scouts to have a great picture of how he looks out there. The M's are pretty deep in OF prospects, but none of them are sure-fire. Gutierrez and Ichiro are both free agents after 2012. While that is still a ways away, you might only be talking about 2 years of overlap between Ichiro, Ackley, and Gutierrez. Throw Saunders into the mix and you wonder if they will just rotate a DH through, or whether they might look to trade Gutierrez in the next 1.5 years.
Kevin, what's a good comp. for Romine's bat?
Kevin, did you hear anything on Danny Guttierez? Nice numbers in his debut.
What were Hidalgo's off the field issues? Anyone know?