Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rangers CF Brandon Boggs; Duran; Saltalamacchia

As I type this, Boggs has swung three times as a major leaguer; the three swings have resulted in two singles and a home run. He has neither swung and missed, swung and hit a foul ball, nor swung and hit a fly ball out or a ground ball out. For good measure, Boggs also has received a 4 pitch base on balls.

Even without having gotten the hits, Boggs would still look like a future hitting success because of his command of his own strike zone. This is very difficult skill/knowledge for hitters to acquire. So many minor leaguers and major leaguers a-l-m-o-s-t succeed, and only fall short because they never acquire this skill of commanding their own strike zone.

From Boggs very first AB in Arlington, it was clear he had this skill. He let teasing pitches, just off the strike zone, go by without so much as checking his swing. How many young hitters - with adrenaline pumping during their major league debuts - can confidently lay off of teasing pitches? It's clear Boggs knows exactly where he wants the pitch, and he knows exactly which pitches he will not offer at. Not many young hitters fully understand that. Some hitters never, ever understand that.

It's also clear Boggs is a cool customer.


After replacing an ejected Ian Kinsler in last night's game, German Duran is today's starter at 3B. Thank goodness. So far, tonight, Duran has a single in his only at bat. Duran, also, displays a strike zone prescience and confidence which Botts and Cruz, for instance, rarely displayed in big league at bats.

Watching Duran play, one has an odd sensation that nothing can keep him from succeeding as a major league player(even though he almost surely will return for a while to AAA). I don't know why I have this sensation when watching him. I've seen lots of young players display lots of varying levels of confidence. Duran just has a really solid game. It's easy to see he has no holes in his swing(he even has HR power), he has no holes in his defense, he has no problem with his speed or with his arm strength, and he appears to have the good face of a player who is focused, confident, and able to move through competitive ups and downs.

How can I look at Duran and be so confident of this? I don't know. I can only compare it to attending a spring training Dallas Cowboys practice last season. I especially wanted to watch Jason Garrett's coaching body language. By the end of the practice, I could tell, from 50 yards distant, Garrett had the "it" which he would need to succeed. You look at Duran and you get the same feeling.


Saltalamacchia, very happily, looks to have a much improved idea at the plate. Last season, Saltalamacchia was all about high adrenaline and swinging from the heels. This season, Saltalamacchia clearly has a plan for each AB, and he is following his plan. He looks much better. I liked him pretty well last season, I like him even better this season. He is now a VERY intriguing prospect - a VERY intriguing hitting prospect. His ceiling is now very high. Saltalamacchia has skills.


Update: in his second AB of tonight, Boggs ripped a line drive JUUUUST foul - just missing a double. He ripped his next swing for a single in the hole. Current Boggs: Five swings, four hits, 1.000 career batting average, one walk. If he retires now, he's at least tied for highest Batting Average of all time.

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