It certainly didn't take Paul Goldschmidt long to prove that the prodigious power numbers he put up during his first two seasons weren't just the product of playing in hitter-friendly leagues.
The Southern League doesn't have the same kind of reputation at all as the Pioneer League or the California League. But the Mobile first baseman remains one of the Minors' top home run hitters.
The Diamondbacks prospect homered in his first Double-A at-bat, added another blast later on Opening Night at Carolina and hasn't stopped showing off his power since as the BayBears have taken hold of first place in the SL's South Division.
Through the season's second weekend, Goldschmidt led the Minors with nine homers in 17 games. He also topped the Southern League in RBIs (20), slugging
(.845) and OPS (1.318) while posting a .345 batting average.
So much for needing an adjustment period to a higher league with less inviting fences and weather.
"You always have first-game jitters, so it was good to get a home run on my first at-bat," Goldschmidt said. "But I'm not trying to prove anything about what I did my first two years. I'm just thinking about this season and working as hard as I can to keep getting better."
Goldsmith had four homers in the opening series at Carolina, two in the first home series against Mississippi, two more at home against Jacksonville and one in the series opener at Jackson. He hadn't gone more than two games without a homer yet.
That's an even a better start than he got off to in either of his first two seasons, when he led short-season sluggers with 18 homers for Missoula of the Pioneer League in 2009 and hit 35 -- one off the Minor League lead -- for Visalia of the California League last season.
"It's early and I try not to think about numbers," Goldschmidt said. "If you do, you lose your focus."
There is no question that opposing pitchers are focusing more and more on not letting the right-handed hitter beat them. He was walked three times in the series finale against Jacksonville and was tied for the SL lead with 15 free passes.
"The pitching is better in Double-A and you don't see as many fastballs,"
Goldschmidt said. "The defense is better, too, so that also makes a difference."
But so far, the 6-foot-3 and 245-pound Goldschmidt has just kept hitting. He always has.
Teaming with present Blue Jays pitcher Kyle Drabek, Goldschmidt helped lead The Woodlands (Texas) to a national No. 1 high school ranking. Then he set the school record in career homers at Texas State with 36 and led the entire NCAA Division I with 87 RBIs his junior year as the Bobcats made the NCAA Tournament.
An eighth-round choice in the 2009 Draft, Goldschmidt quickly showed that his college numbers were no fluke by hitting .334 and leading the rookie Pioneer League in slugging (.638) as well as homers. Then came an MVP year in the Class A Advanced California League, where he led in homers, doubles (42), slugging
(.606) and OPS (.990) while batting .314.
Goldschmidt, 23, also struck out 161 times last season, which did throw up a warning flag. But he had only 12 strikeouts in his first 17 games this year, another indication that the adjustment to Double-A has come smoothly.
Parker bounces back: Right-hander Jarrod Parker, coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2009, looked more like his old self in his third start for Mobile, picking up a win against Jacksonville while allowing three hits and two earned runs over five innings. Parker, MLB.com's No. 29 prospect, missed all last season and lost his first two starts this year while giving up 14 earned runs in six innings.
Moore gets Ks, not Ws: Montgomery left-hander Matt Moore, MLB.com's No.
27 prospect, had 24 strikeouts to three walks in 18 1/3 innings, but was 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA and five homers allowed after four starts. Moore, 21, was just
6-11 last season for Charlotte in the Florida State League despite leading the Minors with 208 strikeouts in 144 2/3 innings.
Triple or nothing: Chattanooga hit 11 triples in the first 12 games and had 13 through 17 contests to set a record early pace in that category. Alfredo Silverio had four of the triples and Elian Herrera three. The Lookouts, though, were also racking up the errors, with seven in one game -- two off the SL record.