Southern notes: Gennett standing tall

Second baseman proving he can hit in heart of Stars' order

By Guy Curtright / Special to | May 1, 2012 6:00 AM ET

At 5-foot-9 and about 165 pounds, Scooter Gennett looks every bit the leadoff hitter he was most of last season with Class A Advanced Brevard County. But the second baseman is batting a bit lower in the order this year with Double-A Huntsville, and he's had moments befitting his spot as the Stars' No. 3 hitter.

Gennett, ranked as the Brewers' No. 6 prospect, had his first career two-homer game and first walk-off blast during a five-game span, showing that the left-handed hitter has plenty of pop despite his size.

"When you hit third, it's a different role," said Gennett, who turned 22 on May 1. "There is more of a responsibility to hit with power and drive in runs."

After batting .309 for Wisconsin of the Class A Midwest League two years ago and .300 in the Florida State League last season, Gennett raised his profile even more with what he did in the Arizona Fall League and in Major League camp with the Brewers.

Gennett followed up a .411 average in the AFL by hitting for the cycle in a Cactus League game and finishing 9-for-20 with the Brewers during Spring Training.

"I'd never hit for the cycle before, so it was a big thrill," said Gennett, who has been accomplishing one first after another.

He got the triple and the double out of the way his first two times up in the split-squad game against the Royals, then homered in his final at-bat to cap a 4-for-5 performance.

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run," Gennett said. "I was just trying to hit the ball hard. When I try to hit a homer, I end of rolling over on the ball or striking out."

Gennett, taken in the 16th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, didn't hit many rollers or strike out much during an 11-game hitting streak for the Stars when he went 19-for-47. But April didn't end as well.

Going from red hot to ice cold, Gennett was 2-for-24 in the final six games of the month to drop his average from .341 to .278. That is just the kind of slump that Gennett had been hoping to avoid after a poor end of May a year ago resulted in a battle to get his average back to .300 in the Florida State League.

"My goal is to be consistent," he said. "I want to avoid what happened last year."

Gennett's bat is his ticket to the Major Leagues. He is still somewhat a work in progress on defense, and he doesn't have a lot of speed, despite his nickname.

In fact, Gennett is really more quick-witted than quick-footed.

Exasperated that her 5-year-old son wouldn't keep his car seat buckled, Gennett's mother made a trip to the police station. Trying to get out of trouble, the youngster came up with Scooter as an alias in honor of his favorite Muppet character.

The nickname stuck, primarily because he wouldn't answer to Ryan -- his first name -- for about a year out of fear.

"I thought I might get arrested," he said.

Hall of Famer Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto was 5-foot-6 -- three inches shorter than Gennett.

"I've been told a lot that because of my size, I can't do certain things," Gennett said. "I love it when people say that. I like to prove them wrong."

In brief

Power shortage: Mississippi hit just four homers in its 25 games during April, and two of them came in the final three games of the month. Ian Gac had all the homers until Adam Milligan connected Sunday. Mississippi went 11 games without a home run before Gac smacked his third on Friday. The Southern League team with the next fewest homers in April was Birmingham with nine.

Perfect work: Pensacola left-hander Donnie Joseph, the Reds' No. 10 prospect, was dominant in his 10 relief appearances during April, scattering five hits in 10 scoreless innings while striking out 15 and walking three. He was 2-0 with four saves. Joseph had a 6.94 ERA last season when the Reds' Southern League affiliate was at Carolina.

Almost perfect: Chattanooga right-hander Shawn Tolleson, the Dodgers' No. 9 prospect, didn't allow a run until his eighth appearance, and it came on a homer by Mobile slugger Matt Davidson with the Lookouts way ahead Sunday. He had a 0.90 ERA to go with four saves and 18 strikeouts to three walks in 10 innings.

McNutt returns: Tennessee's Trey McNutt came off the disabled list and pitched three scoreless innings Friday against Jackson, allowing just one hit. He struck out two and did not walk a batter while lowering his ERA to 0.61. The right-hander made three starts before going on the DL, but all were four innings or less on length. He is the Cubs' No. 6 prospect.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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