Arizona Fall League Update: Ji-Hwan Bae, Nick Gonzales Combing To Set The Table For Javelinas
After losing their first five games of the season, the Peoria Javelinas have now won nine of their last 14 (9-4-1). They have done so with a high-flying, high-octane offense.
They have also received a boost from the top of the order, namely when two familiar names are hitting from there.
While it's hard to have to same exact lineup on a day-to-day basis, as each AFL is a combination of prospects gathered from seven separate organizations, there is no doubting that Peoria has been better with a pair of Pittsburgh Pirates at the top of the order.
Nick Gonzales and Ji-Hwan Bae are both two fo the Pirates top middle infield prospects, and the Javelinas as a team haven't lost a game the last three games that they have batted one and two in the lineup.
The team in general got off to a rough start, and it showed in their 0-4 start when Bae leads off and Gonzales follows up, but they have bounced back in the last three games.
Over the past three games that they have hit first and second, they have combined to go 9 for 26 (.345) with a home run and five runs batted in. They've scored 12 runs (that's four per game), stolen six bases and have twice as many walks (6) than they do strikeouts (3).
Nick Gonzales hits his second homer of the 2021 AFL season extending Peoria’s lead to 6-0! pic.twitter.com/IA018aDsuZ— Prospects Worldwide (@ProspectsWorldW) November 4, 2021
Small sample size, yes, that's what most of the AFL has been so far but still an insane amount of production and it's no wonder the team has performed so well as of late with Bae and Gonzales at the top of the lineup.
Overall, the pair have gone 19 of 62 (.306), with six RBIs, three extra base hits, 15 runs scored and eight stolen bases. They've also drawn nine walks compared to just eight strikeouts.
Gonzales is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, picking up his late season surge while playing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers in High-A. For Bae, he spent all of 2021 in Altoona and saw a power surge that he hadn't shown his entire minor league career.
Ji-Hwan Bae lays down the perfect bunt for an infield single. The Daegu, South Korea native has had an impressive day at the plate pic.twitter.com/ihIn7XeGVr— Prospects Worldwide (@ProspectsWorldW) November 2, 2021
Against a step up in competition, both have responded and shown why they could be big parts of the Pirates future as they look to build a contending team from within.
Bae himself has the look of the perfect leadoff hitter. He currently ranks second in runs scored, third in stolen bases and is tied for ninth in walks drawn. For Gonzales, he is tied for fourth in hits in the AFL.
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