We haven’t been this excited about an undersized Brewers infield prospect with a funny name since Callix Crabbe.
21-year-old Scooter Gennett hit for the cycle Sunday against the Royals, homering off Louis Coleman in the eighth inning to complete it.
Gennett, who is listed a 5-foot-9 and 164 pounds, entered the day with just five at-bats and one hit this spring. The 2009 16th-round pick hit .300/.334/.406 in the Florida State League last year and then further impressed by batting .411/.470/.556 in the Arizona Fall League. Baseball America ranked him the Brewers’ No. 5 prospect.
Gennett is expected to open this season in Double-A. His natural position is second base, but with Rickie Weeks signed for the long haul, his future in Milwaukee is murky. He doesn’t have the range to play shortstop regularly and his bat probably wouldn’t survive a move to an outfield corner. He might work out as a utilityman, but he could also become trade bait at some point.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.