With the top pick in the Rule 5 draft the Astros snagged right-hander Josh Fields from the Red Sox.
Fields was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2008, going 20th overall out of the University of Georgia, but never reached the majors and is now 27 years old.
He’s always had very good strikeout numbers, but walked 5.9, 5.7, and 6.7 batters per nine innings in his first three pro seasons. That all changed this year, as Fields cut his walk rate to 2.8 per nine innings while posting a 2.01 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 58 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Red Sox.
Boston got Fields in the Erik Bedard trade and chose not to protect him, so the Astros will gladly add his mid-90s fastball to their bullpen mix and hope the improved control is for real.
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.