In 2012 Josh Vitters had a breakthrough season. It was his first year in Triple A, and he finished with a line of .304/.356/.513 that included 17 home runs. It was the sort of Triple A performance we expect from future major league regulars, and the fact that he was young for the league and only struck out at a 17% rate was even more encouraging. He came up for a month or so at the end of that season and struggled badly, but so many young players struggle in their first taste of the majors that I still considered him a strong candidate to eventually claim the regular left field job in Chicago in 2013.
In 2013, though, Vitters’ season was one injury after another. When he was on the diamond in Iowa he put up another impressive line (.295/.380/.511 with 5 HR and a 19% strikeout rate over 100 PA), but injuries kept him from capitalizing on that.
If he could stay healthy in 2014, I thought he would finally get an extended look in left field in the Major Leagues, but, instead, Vitters opened the year putting up very poor numbers. Instead of the .860+ OPS we had witnessed in 2012 and 2013, Vitters posted an OPS of just .634 in April and .678 in May.
But lately it is starting to look like he has shaken off whatever was deflating his numbers to start the season and is starting to hit like we know he can again. Through his last ten games Vitters has a much more respectable line of .343/.378/.486, and for June his line reads .306/.348/.403. The slugging isn’t all the way back yet, but the average and on base percentage are certainly ticking back up to normal territories. That’s a very good thing.
If Vitters can continue to hit at his Triple A normal pace for an extended stretch, he would be a very good candidate to come to Chicago should the Cubs deal an outfield bat or two. He may not have a ton of success there, but then again he could yet emerge as a league average type left field bat. At any rate, if he keeps this up he may get a chance before the year is out.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa - An early lead lasted as Iowa won 6-2.
Tennessee - The Smokies scored early and came away with the 6-2 win.
Daytona - A run in the eighth proved decisive as Daytona won 6-5.
Kane County - The Cougars scored frequently and came away with the 9-3 win.
Boise Hawks – Boise lost their seventh straight road game 7-3.
Arizona – Arizona struck first and held on for the 4-2 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Kris Bryant homered (his 5th), walked, and struck out. His Iowa OPS is now 1.286 (extreme sample size alert).
- [Iowa] Javier Baez singled and walked twice. He is hitting .289/.341/.474 over his last ten games.
- [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara also continues to play well. He finished 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and his 18th steal.
- [Iowa] Tsuyoshi Wada pitched an excellent game. Over 6 innings he allowed one run on just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 10.
- [Iowa] Armando Rivero allowed two hits in his inning, but he also struck out two.
- [Tennessee] Christian Villanueva finished 3 for 3, and all 3 were doubles.
- [Tennessee] Stephen Bruno singled twice and scored 3 times in route to a 2 for 3 performance.
- [Daytona] Albert Almora homered (his 3rd), and finished 3 for 5. Someone might be heating up.
- [Daytona] Rock Shoulders and Bijan Rademacher (including a double) each finished with two hits.
- [Daytona] Starling Peralta struck out 5 and allowed 2 runs (one earned) on 2 hits and a walk in his 2.1 innings of relief.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann had another big game. He finished 3 for 4 with a triple, a walk, and two steals. His stolen base tally now sits at 21.
- [Kane County] And then we have Trey Martin. Not only did he finish 2 for 3 with a walk, he also stole 5 (FIVE!) bases. His season total now sits at 16.
- [Kane County] Kyle Schwarber‘s games without an extra base hit streak ended at two. He doubled, walked, and struck out twice.
- [Kane County] Paul Blackburn was not at his best, but Michael Wagner and Michael Heesch combined to strike out 7 in their 4 innings of relief.
- [Boise] Jesse Hodges homered (his first) and finished 2 for 4.
- [Boise] Trey Lang pitched another scoreless 1.1 innings with one strikeout. Through his first 6.1 innings he has allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out 8.
- [Arizona] Gleyber Torres finished 2 for 4. Tyler Alamo also had two hits.
- [Arizona] Luis Hernandez had the start and pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out a pair.
- There hasn’t yet been word on the reason, but Eloy Jimenez is in Arizona right now, but not playing in the AZL games. He’s had just one pinch hit appearance.
- Courtesy of BN’er Noah, here’s a video of Schwarber’s double against Wisconsin.
- It has been far too long since I last linked some of the fantastic photography of Dylen Heuer in this space. He was at the Iowa game yesterday with camera in hand, though, and here are the results. Is that seriously gray hair in Ryan Kalish‘s beard?
- Dylan was also at the game on June 23rd, so be sure to check out those picture as well. And while you’re at it, he got shots from June 21st you should check out. Be sure not to miss these pictures from June 20th, either.