Brandon Webb took away some encouraging signs after throwing six innings against Padres minor leaguers in Arizona on Tuesday. He hit 84 mph on the gun while allowing four runs — one earned — and six hits in six innings, Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports.
He struck out five and walked none, though he did hit two batters.
“Today I felt like I was able to locate more,” he said. “The other times I was just throwing it down the middle, trying to get velocity and not really worrying about where it went and stuff like that. Today it was more about pitch-ability.”
Webb said he hit 86 mph on the gun a couple of outings ago. He wasn’t there today, but he has picked up some velocity while getting his arm back into shape.
“It’s probably some of the best stuff I’ve had, I think,” he said. “My curve ball has been kind of loopy. For the most part it was pretty good today. It was just a matter of getting the hand speed out in front instead of kind of babying it in there or whatever.”
Webb is probably going to have to start throwing in the mid-80s consistently if he’s going to help the Rangers this year. The team hasn’t announced what’s in store for him next, but it sounds like he’s about ready to begin an official 30-day rehab assignment in the minors.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.