Statistically, Greg Halman is having another Greg Halman-like season – an impressive number of home runs but also a healthy amount of strikeouts.
He has hit 19 home runs in his first season at the Class AAA level, but also has struck out 87 times with the Tacoma Rainiers, ranking fourth in the Pacific Coast League in each category.
Strikeouts have been the stain on Halman’s resume, especially last year when he whiffed 183 times at Class AA West Tennessee despite leading the league with 25 home runs.
This year, the Mariners are thrilled with Halman’s production and are willing to accept the strikeouts that come with the power.
“I’ve got mixed feelings on that,” said Pedro Grifol, the Mariners’ minor league director. “We don’t like to see strikeouts, but at times I’d rather see a strikeout than a ground-ball double play. With guys like this who put the ball in the seats, you have a high-risk, high-reward type of thing.”
After all, anyone hoping for a high-homer, low-strikeout hitter may be waiting for the next Albert Pujols.
“I’m always looking for a three-run bomb,” Grifol said. “These guys, the Greg Halmans and Carlos Pegueros (now at West Tennessee), can do that. They can be 0-for-2 with two strikeouts but in the seventh inning can hit a three-run bomb. Those are the kinds of impact guys we’re trying to develop.”
Grifol doesn’t discount the value of an offseason trip that Mariners minor league catching coordinator Roger Hansen took to Halman’s home in Amsterdam. Hansen, whose responsibilities with the Mariners extend well beyond catching, met with Halman and his parents to discuss the organization’s expectation of him for 2010.
“They talked about the expectations we have for him this year and the accountability that goes with it,” Grifol said. “Roger put on the table for him and his parents and everybody that, ‘This is what we expect this year from you based on your tools.’”
Halman has hit safely in 11 of his past 12 games, batting .341 with five home runs and 10 RBI in that span. For the season, he has a .253 average, a .339 on-base percentage, .585 slugging percentage and a .924 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
“He has turned it up a notch. He’s still young and this is his first stint in Triple-A, and he’s got 19 home runs. The kid has been phenomenal.”