When a player has a name like Torsten Boss, people tend to notice.
The Delmarva second baseman is among those battling in MiLB.com's Moniker Madness tournament to determine who has the best name in the Minor Leagues. There were also numerous mentions of his name during the 2013 Draft, when Boss was selected in the eighth round out of Michigan State. In the process, he became the highest-drafted Spartan since Bob Malek was chosen in the fourth round in 2002 and the highest MSU third baseman since first-rounder Steve Garvey in 1968.
Truth be told, Boss is much more interested in having his name stand out because of his performance on the field. Thus far in 2013, the infielder has experienced the ups and downs the Minor Leagues offer in his first full season in the professional ranks.
"It's definitely been a learning experience, but overall it's been a fun year," Boss said. "There have been times when I've been hot, and there's been other stretches when I've been cold. I'm just trying to extend those hot streaks and minimize the slumps. I'm on a little bit of a hot streak right now. The big thing is I believe I've gotten better over the course of the season, which is always good."
Boss began the current campaign on a solid note at the plate, hitting .262 with 11 RBIs in 22 games in April. The yo-yo effect started shortly thereafter, however, as he slipped to .181 for May before hitting at a .311 clip in June. In July, he batted just .113.
"July was bad," said Boss, who owned a slash line of .242/.332/.364 through 89 games.
"I was tinkering with a leg kick and I was getting too high with it. My timing was off," he admitted. "I eventually started to relax and slow down, which made it a little easier to be on time. My swing started feeling better as I made some adjustments. But the good times and the bad times … that's just baseball."
Ironically, a trip to the disabled list in late July and early August with a back injury may have provided the mental and physical break Boss needed to finish the 2013 campaign on a strong note. In seven games since returning to action, he's gone 13-for-26 with four multi-hit games. In back-to-back outings at Kannapolis on Aug. 9-10, Boss stroked three hits in five at-bats in both contests and had a total of four runs scored, three doubles and three RBIs.
Boss' recent output is what the Orioles projected from the Spartan upon adding him to the organizational fold in 2012. A career .338 hitter at MSU who was considered to have one of the top college bats in the Midwest entering the Draft, Boss was the first Michigan State third baseman to earn All-Big Ten honors three times and concluded his career tied for sixth in school history in RBIs (143) and doubles (40).
He opened his career in pro ball at Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League last summer and hit .257 with five home runs and 27 RBIs in 65 games and also took the field twice for Class Advanced A Frederick. Possessing a solid approach and a good eye at the plate, Boss showed the ability to make adjustments on offense. The Orioles, meanwhile, were uncertain about his defensive future, which has led to a game of musical chairs.
"I like playing second," Boss said. "I was drafted as an outfielder. I showed up in Aberdeen last year with my outfielder's glove before they called me into the office and said I'd be playing third base. Then they switched me to second this year, which I've definitely enjoyed. You get to see the ball a little bit longer than at the hot corner. It's required a lot of work, but I feel comfortable there and can see a lot of improvements in my ability to play the position."
The rate at which Boss continues to make those adjustments will determine how likely he becomes a household name in professional baseball. Though he feels as he is making progress, Boss also realizes he has plenty of work ahead.
"There a few things from this season that I wish had gone a little bit better," Boss said. "I definitely want to finish the year with a better batting average than .240. The ultimate goal is to get moved up, but right now I just want to finish strong while controlling the things I can control. That's all I'm worrying about right now."
Lopez makes smooth transition: After making his first 25 appearances this season out of the Kannapolis bullpen, Adam Lopez has made a nice adjustment since moving into the starting rotation July 28. On Aug. 9, the right-hander worked a career-long six innings to earn his first win as a starter in a 7-5 decision over Delmarva. Lopez struck out eight batters, one shy of his career-high, and tossed five shutout innings after giving up a pair of runs in the opening frame.
Lugo loves the league: Savannah's Seth Lugo was named the SAL Pitcher of the Week after tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits without a walk and striking out 11 Hickory batters to notch his first league victory Aug. 10. Lugo, who was promoted Aug. 3 after going 2-4 with a 4.19 ERA at Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League, surrendered only one run and two hits over six frames at Greenville on Aug. 4 in his first SAL start.
Powerful versus Lakewood: Despite losing the finale, 3-1, to Lakewood on Aug. 11, West Virginia has owned the BlueClaws in 2013, going 20-4 in the season series. The 20 victories are the most against one opponent in club history for the first-place Power, who had a 13-game home winning streak snapped Tuesday.
Big Braves in Rome: The Atlanta Braves' Major League team will face some of the top prospects in the organization when they visit Rome's State Mutual Stadium on March 29, 2014. Fourteen current Atlanta players toiled at Rome, including first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Jason Heyward, catcher Brian McCann and pitchers Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor and Kris Medlen.