The Texas Rangers aren’t the only ones surprised by Travis Demeritte’s power numbers this year for Class A Hickory.
It surprised Demeritte as well.
The 19-year-old prospect leads the South Atlantic League with 24 home runs in his first full season. The next closest among the league’s second basemen has 12.
Demeritte, who was the Rangers’ 30th pick in the first round last year, had four homers in 39 games during his first taste of pro ball in the Arizona rookie league last year.
So where did the power surge come from?
“I really don’t know. I’m just seeing the ball well and making good contact and putting good swings together and [having] good ABs,” Demeritte said. “I’ve been getting a couple pitches I can handle and making the most of them.”
Demeritte is still striking out a lot, and his batting average is lagging at .222.
He has 147 strikeouts in 105 games this season, second most in the league. But some of that is to be expected for such a young player in his first full season in pro baseball.
“To go through that grind is tough, but he’s done a really good job, and he’s improved defensively as well,” Rangers farm director Mike Daly said. “We’re really happy with where he’s at. Guys learn a lot in their first year, and he has certainly done that. I give him a lot of credit.”
Demeritte has played 82 games at second, 12 at third and one at shortstop. He’s more comfortable on the left side of the field but is glad he’s getting the experience at second.
“It never hurts to play too many positions,” he said. “I appreciate the Rangers for working with me at second base and giving me depth over there. Anywhere on the field is fine with me. If I end up staying at second base I’ll make the most of it.”
Daly said Demeritte’s bat is going to help keep his options open in the field.
“Second base is the ideal thing for him now, but as he continues to move up the ladder, he has that ability to play another position,” Daly said. “Right now we’re really focused on improving at second base and improving his bat.”
The first season has been a grind, Demeritte said, but “I’m loving it. It’s baseball, how could you not enjoy it?”
He’s also not concerned about the Rangers’ depth up the middle above him in the system.
“I’ve got to take care of what I can take care of and control what I can control,” he said. “If I do what I know I’m capable of, maybe there will be an opening somewhere. But I’m a long way away, and I’m not really worried about that yet.”
He knows there’s still tons more to improve on, like limiting those strikeouts.
“Yeah, definitely. [I have] way more than I would like. That’s also part of what I’m learning. I know it comes with time,” he said. “We’ve got some other guys who I’m learning from and getting bits and pieces of information from, growing myself. Every day is a grind. We’re out here all day every day preparing for the big step.”
He saw older teammates make adjustments with experience and expects to do the same next season.
“I feel the same will come with me,” Demeritte said. “I’ll have a better understanding of my swing, so I’m pretty confident I’ll turn it around.”
Rangers prospect Nick Williams was promoted from Class A Myrtle Beach to Double A Frisco on Friday.
Williams, a second-round pick in 2012, is the fourth-best prospect in the organization, according to MLB.com.
He had 13 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .292 batting average in 94 games in Class A.