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.