Brett Tomko was the Storm Chasers’ top performer on Friday night, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about how the game went. It’s not that Tomko was bad – he wasn’t – but there weren’t many bright spots from the offense in their 3-1 loss. I could give you a quick scouting report on what I saw from Tomko, but since it’s not 1998, you’re probably not too interested in that. Instead, here are a few notes on some other players that stood out.
- Brett Eibner led off the home half of the first inning with a home run to right field that was an absolute laser. Eibner ripped a 1-1 fastball, and the ball exited the ballpark in no time. The fascinating thing to me about Eibner’s swing is that there aren’t many moving parts. He has a little bit of a bat wiggle, but his timing step is very small, and his hands go straight to the ball without any time-consuming load. Despite the simple swing, Eibner generates a ton of power because he gets such great rotation with his hips, and his upper body is very strong.
He had been slumping lately, with just 3 hits in his previous 47 plate appearances, so it was nice to see Eibner square up a ball like that. However, the high strikeouts still appear to be a problem, with 22 strikeouts in those 47 plate appearances, and he added another one last night on a slider down and away. If Eibner hopes to contribute at the big league level, he’s going to have to learn to hit breaking balls, because big league pitchers will feed him a steady diet of them.
On defense, Eibner played a very solid center field. He made 10 putouts, which was just 1 shy of the Pacific Coast League record, despite not recording any putouts in the first 3 innings. Most of the balls he caught were fairly easy to get to, but there were a couple he had to range into the gap to grab, and Eibner did seem to get good reads off of the bat. I didn’t notice any poor routes or missteps.
- Francisco Pena has shown a surprising bit of power this season, with a .569 slugging percentage before last night’s game, in which he crushed a triple off of the wall in left-center field. I would have scored it a double with an error since the left fielder mishandled it, but the official scorer didn’t ask me, so we’ll call it a triple. Regardless, I liked what I saw from Pena. He’s not going to be an on-base machine, and this burst of power may be a result of some Werner Park magic, but Pena showed a short, powerful stroke.
In addition to what I saw from Pena at the plate, I also thought he did well behind it. He blocked a few pitches in the dirt that Tomko buried, and from my vantage point, seemed to be quiet with his pitch framing. I didn’t get a chance to see him throw down to 2nd, but he’s caught 42% of would-be base stealers this season, so I think he’s ok there. If Salvador Perez‘s shin bruise doesn’t improve soon and forces the Royals to make a move, Pena appears to be the best option to call-up.
- Johnny Giavotella continued his assault on Triple-A pitching, going 3-4 on the night. All three hits were hard-hit line drives. At this point, it’s not really news that Gio is crushing, but it’s fun to see.
In the field, Gio played third base and did alright. He wasn’t able to range far enough left to field a hard grounder, but he did make a nice play on a tough short hop later in the game, including a strong, accurate throw across the diamond. He didn’t get many chances, but it seems like Gio could play the position at the major league level and not completely embarrass himself. You know, if the Royals ever have a need for a third baseman.
- On the non-Royals front, Astros prospects Jon Singleton and Domingo Santana were pretty impressive. Singleton drove a pitch over the right field fence in the 6th inning off of Tomko, and also drew a walk. He’s apparently lost a bit of weight, but he’s still a large human being. As for Santana, his hands are insanely fast. When he starts the load in his swing, his hands seem to go back more than necessary, which usually slows the swing down too much. Santana was able to still get around on inside pitches and hit them with authority.