Inland Empire third baseman Kaleb Cowart
made an immediate impact upon arriving in the 66ers lineup last month, driving in 21 runs with 13 extra-base hits and a .416 on-base percentage in his first 30 games for his new club.
The 20-year-old Georgia native excelled at Class A Cedar Rapids to open the year, hitting .293 with nine homers and 54 RBIs in 66 games en route to a Midwest League All-Star appearance. He earned a promotion to the Class A Advanced level June 21 and maintained that momentum, making a quick impression on both sides of the ball and achieving a personal milestone well ahead of schedule.
"Ending the year in [Class A Advanced] was a goal I set for myself," he said. "It came sooner than I thought it would."
In his first full season in pro ball, Cowart has already logged more games in 2012 than he did last season and admits to feeling some fatigue.
"My body is getting tired," he said. "We have about 40 games left, and these are the toughest of the year. We need to go out and do what we've already done 100 games into it."
Cowart was a two-way threat back at Cook High School in Adel, Ga., throwing in the mid-90s as a pitcher and showing power as a third baseman. The switch-hitter preferred to play every day, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are giving him the opportunity after choosing him with the 18th overall pick in the 2010 Draft.
"In high school I wanted to play every day," he said. "[The Angels] told me they would draft me as a third baseman and that's what I wanted. I couldn't be happier."
Cowart's focus this season has been on defensive consistency and working to improve his eye at the plate. He said he didn't play much third in high school and has had to learn the nuances of the position as a professional.
His approach at the plate includes laying off offspeed pitches while looking for pitches to drive early in the count and battling with two strikes.
The approach is paying off as Cowart has 26 walks to 25 strikeouts with 13 extra-base hits in 108 at-bats. The power has always been there thanks to a foundation of conditioning Cowart has employed since high school -- now the plate discipline is coming along as well.
Tate on time: Lake Elsinore outfielder Donavan Tate is hitting .304 for the Storm since he was called up from Class A Fort Wayne at the end of June. He has 21 hits this month and is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak. He's also showing a good eye at the plate with eight walks over his last 10 games.
B.A. gets an A: Stockton third baseman B.A. Vollmuth has also thrived since he moved up from the Midwest League. Vollmuth is hitting .292 in 28 games with the Ports and has three home runs and 13 RBIs this month. His bat came to life once the calendar turned to July. The third baseman has 25 hits, including five doubles, in 20 July games.
Isaiah saves the Nuts: Modesto left-hander Isaiah Froneberger hasn't allowed a run since July 7 and has tossed 9 2/3 scoreless innings over his last five games. The stretch helped erase a rough month of June, when he allowed seven runs over 14 1/3 innings of relief. Froneberger earned two wins and a save last week and has 61 strikeouts in 57 innings this season.