Roger Brown's On Baseball: Fisher Cats' Ryan Schimpf turning on the power
ALTHOUGH he’s 5-foot-9 and weighs 180 pounds, Ryan Schimpf has become a powerful man.
The proof? Look at Schimpf’s home run totals. Entering Tuesday’s night’s game against Akron, Schimpf, a 25-year-old infielder with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, was tied for second among Eastern League players with 13 home runs.
Schimpf seemed to discover his power last year, when he hit 22 home runs in a season split between Single-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. He hit 21 home runs in his three previous professional seasons.
“I really can’t explain it,” Schimpf said. “It’s not that I’m going up there trying to do it. I’m really just trying to go up there, get a good pitch and cut loose on it.
“I have a few homers right now, but it’s not what I’m trying to do every time up there. I’m just trying to get a good pitch and stay up the middle. Fortunately I’ve just put a couple of good swings on balls and they got out of the ballpark.”
Binghamton’s Cesar Puello also had 13 home runs entering Tuesday night’s action. Altoona’s Andrew Lambo led the league with 14.
The 12 home runs Schimpf hit in April and May established a franchise record for most home runs in the first two months of the season. He hit six in each month.
Schimpf, who played college baseball at LSU, has played both second base and third base for New Hampshire this season. His power seems to be contagious, since 14 of the 19 runs the Fisher Cats have scored in June have come on home runs.
Where he’s lacking is batting average. Schimpf is a career .256 hitter in five minor league seasons, but is batting .218 in 59 games this season.
“I really don’t want to think about numbers,” he said. “I don’t set goals on a number of home runs or what I want my average to be. I just need to put together good at bats and hit line drives up the middle.”
CATCHING ON: Catcher A.J. Jimenez joined Fisher Cats on Tuesday. He was promoted from Dunedin after catcher Sean Ochinko was sent to Triple-A Buffalo. Jimenez was on New Hampshire’s opening-day roster last year, but his season ended when he had Tommy John surgery in May. MLB.com ranks Jimenez No. 11 among Blue Jays prospects.
Jimenez led the Eastern League by throwing out 55 percent of would-be base stealers last season before his injury. Toronto selected him in the ninth round of the 2008 draft.
WHAT RELIEF: Reliever Randy Boone pitched a scoreless inning in New Hampshire’s 6-2 victory over Erie on Saturday, which extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings. Since returning from the disabled list on May 23 Boone has allowed one run in 13 innings (0.69 ERA).
The Fisher Cats have also received some strong relief efforts from Chorye Spoone, who has surrendered one run in 12 innings during his last six appearances.
HIT MAN: New Hampshire outfielder Kevin Pillar entered Tuesday night’s game leading the Eastern League in hits with 84. He was tied for sixth in the league with a .315 batting average.
Pillar set an NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hitting streak in 2011, when he played for Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Pillar also began the night as the league leader in at bats (267) and games played (63).
Email staff reporter Roger Brown at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @603SportsMedia.