Nick Pratto had a solid season hitting .280/.343/.443 at Lexington. Pratto had an even better South Atlantic League Playoff hitting .333/.481/.667 in 6 playoff games. This is a small sample but perhaps it’s enough to give us a sense that Pratto may be a clutch player. Pratto was 7-21 with 2 HRs, a double, 4 singles, and 6 BBs. He scored 5 runs and had 4 RBI while stealing 3 bases. The only knock against him was his 8 strikeouts which equated to 29.6% of his plate appearances.
I took a look at all of Pratto’s at bats to get a sense of what he does and his approach. Let’s talk about his two solo home runs first. His first home run was an opposite field line drive that just crawled over the fence and hit the fencing on the bleachers above the wall. Pratto ended up at third before umpires met and sent him the last 90 feet. The pitch was from a RHP and a fastball away and down. Pratto got it deep and just shot it the other way. It wasn’t a power swing but he put some power into it. The second was against a LHP who tried to get him with a two strike curve which he left up. Pratto recognized the pitch, let it travel, and then turned on it and hit a line drive out to right field showing quite a bit of pop.
Pratto hit a deep fly ball that just missed going out for a double off a tall LHP. It was a curve ball that he was able to stay back on and did try to lift.
Pratto also had several singles. One RBI single stands out to me. He got a pitch middle away and hit a line drive to CF driving in Isbel. Pratto also stole second immediately after reaching on the first pitch. He pulled two other balls through the 3/4 hole for singles. One was a fastball down and in. The other was a curve ball away. The other single was a change up away that he was able to muscle into center. The ball was off the end of his bat but it is good to see him adjust to the change up and stay behind it instead of rolling over it because Pratto said that was the most difficult adjustment he had in his rookie season.
One of the best at bats I watched was his 7th inning at bat against Lakeland on September 13. Pratto got down in the count early and fouled off a few pitches. He then continued to work and eventually drew a walk. It was a very gritty at bat.
Film doesn’t always show great things. It’s the eye in the sky for a reason. After Pratto’s great at bat he comes back up in the 9th with a runner in scoring position and two outs. Again, he works a great at bat but ends up striking out after fouling off four pitches on a slider in the dirt. The problem was the film showed he missed several mistakes from a LHP. Pratto will continue to improve in this area but still has to learn to punish all of a pitchers mistakes. Three of his six strikeouts came in his last at bat of a game. Perhaps he tries to do too much at times.
The film study made me feel really good about Pratto. He was solid defensively with a few scoops at first. He did a good job while he was on the bases stealing and running instinctively. With the bat he did damage as his slash line told us. He hit the ball out of the park relatively easy two different times. He can hit good pitchers pitches and rip them for singles. It also showed his swing improvement on change ups. There is still a lot of projection left for him and room for growth as he enters his third season as a professional.
Image from MiLB.com taken by Doc Riddle.