Winning the Southern League championship last year with the Mobile BayBears was the only thing that kept Marc Krauss
from having a totally forgettable season.
"I was definitely disappointed in my performance," Arizona's second-round choice in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft said. "We had a great team and I felt I should have done more. I let people down, including myself."
That certainly isn't the case this season. If the BayBears -- first-half champ in the South Division -- claim a repeat title, it will be because of Krauss rather than despite of him.
The 24-year-old left-handed hitter led the Southern League in on-base percentage (.424), runs (68) and walks (64) through Sunday while ranking in the top five of most of the other key offensive categories.
Krauss had a .296 average with 14 homers, 27 doubles and 57 RBIs in 94 games. His slugging mark was .531 and his OPS was .955.
"I think I'm better for the tough times last year," Krauss said. "They were learning points for me. As you get older, you get wiser."
That applies to away from the ballpark as well as at it.
Krauss, Arizona's No. 20 prospect, is the first to admit that he wasn't in the best of shape last year. But he is about 220 pounds now as opposed to more than 230 a year ago.
The transformation came over the winter, and Krauss has been able to stay at his target weight with the help of his wife, Kelcey.
"It's hard to watch what you eat by yourself," Krauss said. "You need extra support. My wife has been a big help. She makes sure that we eat healthy."
Krauss set the Ohio University season record with 27 homers and was the first Bobcat to be named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.
The numbers that Krauss is putting up now are comparable to those he amassed at Visalia in the Class A Advanced California League two years ago, when he hit .302 with 25 homers and 87 RBIs. But that doesn't mean he is the same free swinger.
"Hitting is as much mental as physical," said Krauss, who had a .341 average through his first 24 games of the second half and had a two-homer game with six RBIs at Pensacola on July 8. "That's where I've made the most progress. I'm a more complete and better hitter."
Krauss, who had struck out 77 times, has made steady strides at the plate working with Mobile coach Jay Bell this season after falling to a .242 average with the BayBears a year ago.
Krause has also increased his value by playing first base as well as the outfield.
"I like it," said Krauss, who started at first for the winning South Division in the Southern League All-Star Game. "To be versatile should only help me in the future. It means more options to be in the lineup."
The BayBears' first-half title in the South assured a return to the playoffs. Will Krauss still be at Mobile in September? Triple-A could be beckoning.
"I try not to worry about things like that. You can drive yourself crazy," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. I try to stay in the moment."
Krauss was an invitee to Spring Training for a second time this year and got into 10 Cactus League games with Arizona.
"It makes you feel that you're not too far away," Krauss said.
A number of his Mobile teammates from this year and last have already made the jump. Now Krauss appears back on the road to Arizona as well.
Run, Billy, Run: Billy Hamilton swiped five bases without being caught in his first four games with Pensacola, keeping up the pace to break the Minor League stolen base record. Cincinnati's No. 1 prospect had 104 steals in 82 games and was batting .323 for Bakersfield in the Class A Advanced California League before being promoted. The shortstop is No. 26 among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects. He was hitting .235 through five games with Pensacola.
Streak snapped: A game after extending his Montgomery-record streak in his final at-bat, Hak-Ju Lee went hitless to end his mark at 21 games. The shortstop batted .333 over the streak before going 0-for-3 with a walk against Jacksonville on Thursday. Lee is Tampa Bay's No. 1 prospect and ranks No. 36 on the MLB.com Top 100 list. The native of Korea was hitting .269 after going 5-for-9 in the next two games following the streak's end and was second in the Southern League with 31 stolen bases.
One bad outing: Eric Jokisch was 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA in eight official starts for Tennessee, his only loss on the season coming when he took over as a reliever in a suspended game. The left-hander allowed nine earned runs in 5 2/3 innings at Jacksonville on June 24 when he began pitching in what was the third inning. Jokisch, who started the season with Daytona in the Florida State League, has allowed just three runs in 18 innings over three starts since then, going 2-0. He gave up one hit in five scoreless innings at Birmingham on Friday, although he did walk four to go with his six strikeouts.
Colome on roll: Montgomery's Alex Colome allowed just eight hits and a run over 14 innings in winning back-to-back starts. He walked seven, including six in the second start, but struck out 17. Colome was 5-3 with a 4.19 ERA in 11 starts and had struck out 59 in 53 2/3 innings. The right-hander spent most of the first two months of the season on the disabled list. He was 12-9 with a 3.82 ERA for Montgomery and Charlotte of the Florida State League last year.