Kris Bubic tore it up Thursday night striking out 11 Woodpeckers in a complete game victory for the Blue Rocks. Bubic set a career high in pitches thrown and innings worked in the dominate performance. With 1 out in the bottom of the 9th and a runner on third, Bubic gave up a sacrifice fly to RF Brewer Hicklen. Bubic had been given the chance to throw a shutout and came up one out short.
When Vallot advanced to Wilmington for 2017, he continued to follow his familiar pattern at the plate: lots of strikeouts (127), but an .818 OPS made that a bit easier to set aside. He still swung and missed, frequently, but the power continued to hint that there was at least a chance for greater things to come. More injuries robbed him of much-needed experience, costing him two months’ playing time. He did get into 89 games in 2017, and finished with a .231/.380/.438 slash line, hitting 12 homers in 281 at-bats. That home-run total would be good for second on the team, even so.
As the baseball season begins to wind down, we reflect on what went well and what can be improved upon next season. We look back on all the great plays and the players who made them. We look back on the impact of rookies, and what this season meant for them and how it will shape them going forward. Some will never play in an MLB stadium again, some will go on to become Hall of Famers, and some will grind out a professional career in the shadows of the superstars. A few of those players we will forget about until we are reminded of their cup of coffee and wonder what ever happened to them. One such player for the Royals could be Frank Schwindel.
With an injury to Cam Gallagher, the Royals needed another catcher to back up Meibrys Viloria. Nick Dini really caught the eye of Royals Farm when he moved from Lexington to NWA to fill in for an injury in 2017, and hit .379/.472/.466 in his first month seeing AA pitching. The transition from High-A to AA is often the toughest in MiLB, but it didn’t even phase him. Although he didn’t hit for a lot of power, Dini had some pop, and was able to hold his own with the bat. I’ve seen him many times in person at NWA, and never had questions about his bat. My questions were always about him being able to handle high velocity pitchers, as Dini seems to struggle initially at times.