|© MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
PCL notes: Choice is clear for Cats04/29/2013 10:00 AM ET
By Chris Jackson / Special to MLB.com
A broken left hand is not the type of injury a power hitter can easily shake off.
This season, however, outfielder Michael Choice has shrugged off last year's injury and is back to looking like his old self with the Sacramento River Cats.
"The recovery wasn't that big of a deal," said the A's No. 3 prospect. "Had to do a cast for two weeks. I started rehabbing right after that. The hand feels good. I haven't had any issues with that."
Choice got off to a slow start last year at Double-A Midland before catching fire. Then came the pitch on July 21 that fractured his left hand and left him stuck at 10 home runs for the season.
It was a far cry from the 30 homers he hit with Class A Advanced Stockton in 2011 in his first full professional season.
Choice was drafted 10th overall out of Texas-Arlington in 2010 with a reputation for big-time power -- and a lot of strikeouts.
"Strikeouts happen, it is what it is," he said. "I'm not concerned with not trying to strike out; that's going to lead to more strikeouts. I'm trying to go up there and do what I do best at the plate. That's taking pitches and waiting until I get my pitch."
Choice has cut his strikeouts down. After fanning 134 times in 467 at-bats -- roughly 28 percent of the time -- at Stockton, he had 88 strikeouts in 359 at-bats (24 percent) at Midland and 19 strikeouts in 83 at-bats (23 percent) this year with Sacramento.
Through 22 games with the River Cats, Choice has hit .277 (23-for-83) with four homers and 22 RBIs. He's also drawn 15 walks, leaving him with a healthy .404 on-base percentage.
Choice said he's enjoyed the challenge of facing older, savvier pitchers in the Pacific Coast League.
"The challenge as a hitter, you have to know what an opposing pitcher is going to try to do up here," he said. "A lot of guys rely on off-speed or are pitching backwards. You have to know what their out pitch is. You have to have a better understanding of what you are up against."
The A's may have a loaded outfield in the big leagues right now, but turnover is fairly consistent with the small-market club. Until he gets the call from Oakland, Choice said he will simply sit back and enjoy from afar what the A's are accomplishing this season.
"You definitely want to be a part of a winning organization. You want to win a World Series," he said. "You see what goes on up there and you have to be able to fit the model of the team up there. If you do get called up, you just go out and do your work and have fun."
Bumps and bruises: Royals No. 10 prospect Christian Colon had his own injury woes in 2012, thanks to some freak occurrences. First, he stepped on a bat and injured his foot to miss six weeks, then he fouled a ball off his face and missed the final three weeks of the season. This year, the middle infielder has been healthy with Omaha, batting .241 (20-for-83) with two homers and eight RBIs.
Signs of recovery: Another prospect who suffered a broken hand last year, albeit under different circumstances, is shortstop Jonathan Villar. The Astros' No. 11 prospect broke his right hand punching a clubhouse door out of frustration last year. After a slow start this season with Oklahoma City, Villar has hit .405 (17-for-42) with eight RBIs in his last 10 games.
The wheels are off: Not every hitter comes back at full strength after a hand/wrist injury. Rockies No. 7 prospect Tim Wheeler saw his home total drop from 33 to two last year with Colorado Springs after suffering a broken hamate bone. This year, he's hitting .183 (11-for-60) with no homers in 17 games with the Sky Sox.