Tre Carter is showing the Tri-City Dust Devils — and the San Diego Padres — that he’s more than just a base-stealing center fielder; he’s an all-around offensive weapon.
After getting drafted in the 11th round by the Padres in the 2016 draft out of Soddy Daisy (Tenn.) High School, Carter has reached base in all 12 games he’s played for the Dust Devils this season. Among current players with at least 20 at-bats this season, Carter ranks third on the team in batting average (.294) and fourth in on-base percentage (.368), putting him well inside the top 20 in both categories in the Northwest League.
That being said, no one inside the organization is a tougher critic of Carter than himself.
“For the most part, it’s been pretty good, but still not quite where I want to be,” Carter said. “I want to limit my strikeouts, because they’ve been way up.”
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That’s about the only area Carter has regressed since his rookie season in the Arizona League. He struck out 10 times in 47 at-bats in the AZL last season, and has punched out 22 times in 51 AB’s with the Dust Devils.
At the same time, his power numbers are significantly better than they were last year — slugging .451 as opposed to .383 in 2016 — and harder swings tend to create more misses.
“It’s a combination of both (swinging harder and making better contact),” Carter said of his four extra-base hits in the early part of the season. “I’m striking out more, but at the same time I’m squaring up a lot more balls, and the power has been a lot more consistent than it was last year.”
Carter has been a key offensive cog in some wins for Tri-City (10-4) this season, in particular his efforts against Spokane to produce a walk-off, broken-bat RBI single he hit in a 5-4 win June 23, and the two runs he scored in Tuesday’s 4-3 victory.
In addition to his work at the plate, Carter fits the Padres’ aggressive base-running philosophy — he’s 3-for-3 in swiped bags this season. Dust Devils manager Ben Fritz has been pleased with the work he’s put in to become a threat on the base paths.
“He’s always looking to improve on the bases,” Fritz said. “It’s a constant learning process, and he’s been eager to learn, and that’s shown.”
ASUNCION KEEPS BRINGING THE THUNDER
Last season, Luis Asuncion was mostly looking for singles, as he hit 35 of them, 12 doubles and just one home run for a slugging percentage of .317.
Fritz said the team always knew the 20-year-old out of the Dominican Republic had power in his bat, and he’s certainly shown it this season. On Monday, he mashed his second and third home runs of the season, pushing his slugging percentage to .615 (3rd in the NWL) entering Thursday’s home series opener against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
“I’ve never hit more than one in a game before, so that was pretty special,” Asuncion said.
Asuncion is also batting .327 (T-11th) and has an on-base percentage of .407 (ninth).
MOREJON CONTINUES STEADY IMPROVEMENT
For his second straight start, 18-year-old Cuban left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon (the No. 91 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com) lasted five innings, this time in a 6-1 loss on the road against the Spokane Indians on Wednesday. The only runs he allowed came on a two-run home run by Kole Enright in the fourth inning, giving up just four hits in total and striking out five.
Fritz said he’s been impressed with what the young fire-baller has shown in his first three professional starts.
“I don’t think he had a base runner until the third inning, again he looked really good,” Fritz said. “It’s nice to see him, as an 18-year-old, up there around 95 (mph), topping out at 96, and he’s got a few good secondary pitches as well.”
If the Dust Devils stick with the six-man rotation they’ve had the first few trips through, Morejon will have his next turn Tuesday in Everett in the opener of a brief two-game series against the AquaSox.
Here are the announced starters for the rest of the Dust Devils’ five-game home series against the Volcanoes, which started Thursday, with Salem-Keizer’s starters listed first:
Friday: RHP Alejandro De La Rosa (0-0, 0.90 ERA) vs. RHP Henry Henry (0-1, 4.05)
Saturday: LHP Alex Bostic (0-1, 6.52) vs. RHP Dauris Valdez (1-0, 3.38)
Sunday: RHP Stetson Woods (1-0, 1.59) vs. RHP Emmanuel Ramirez (2-0, 2.89)
Monday: RHP Jose Marte (0-1, 10.13) vs. LHP Osvaldo Hernandez (0-0, 2.84)