Like the upper levels of the D-backs farm system with Bauer, Skaggs and Charles Brewer, the arms are piling up in single-A Visalia like its the Cold War again, but there are no bats to compliment them.
Are you ready for some hard-hitting analysis? You sure? Okay, here goes: David Holmberg is a stud.
I was able to finally get to a live ball game on Sunday, May 20, (living in rural Montana doesn’t lend itself to seeing a ton of ball games), so I was really excited to learn that I would be able to see Holmberg in action against a good Bakersfield Blaze lineup featuring Billy Hamilton.
In a system that is loaded with pitching talent, guys like Holmberg can go unnoticed at times. But he has legitimate upside to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Holmberg is a lefty with a low 90s fastball that cuts in to righthand hitters. He pairs that fastball with an outstanding change-up that made more than a few Blaze hitters look like they shouldn’t even be in single-A ball.
He seemed to also throw a slider/slurve but it lacked form and didn’t break sharply. He probably needs to develop that third pitch into an at least average major league pitch to be completely effecting at the major league level. But the two pitches he does have are plus pitches and will give hitters on both sides of the plate fits with the cutting action of the fastball and the plus change-up.
Holmberg went seven innings, striking out nine, while only giving up one hit and no walks. Holmberg, along with fellow pitching prospect Andrew Chafin, form a dynamic duo in Visalia’s rotation.
Holmberg wasn’t the only guy to watch on Visalia as short stop prospect Chris Owings is in his second year at Visalia.
Owings has always had the potential for legitimate power out of a middle infield spot and shows flashes of defensively excellence. But his approach at the plate has always been awful. I mean AWFUL. In a little over 1,100 plate appearances, Owings has struck out 258 times and only walked 37.
That includes striking out 130 times and walking 15 times in Visalia last year. He has not improved much this year, in fact, he may have regressed. He has struck out 53 times in 200 plate appearances this year.
While I was watching, I counted at least 5 times that Owings swung at a pitch WAY outside of the strike zone. One of which came on a 3-0 count where he swung at a pitch at his chest and grounded out to the short stop.
If he doesn’t improve shortly, it will be about time to give up on him.
On the bright side, another prospect that needs to prove something soon, Bobby Borchering, hit two home runs. Borchering is also repeating the single-A level as a 21-year old so a lot is riding on this season. Borchering also strikes out a ton, to the tune of 162 in almost 600 plate appearances in 2011. He has continued to strike out too much this year, especially in a league he is repeating.
He does choke up on the bat in two-strike counts, maybe trying to help his strike out total, and thats not a good sign for a slugger with his type of power.
Still, he did put a really good swing on a couple of offerings and blasted them over the right field wall, one of which came on an 0-2 pitch.
Both Borchering and Owings, absolutely have to do better than striking out once every few at bats at the single-A level.