In his first five Triple-A games, Tyler White is hitting .550 (11 for 20) with four extra-base hits (no home runs) and five RBIs.
Home runs are a mistake.
A pleasant one, for sure, but nonetheless, a mistake.
That’s how Fresno Grizzlies newcomer Tyler White views it.
Instead, he focuses his game around hitting line drives.
To all parts of the field.
And that approach has led to immediate success after his promotion last week from Double-A Corpus Christi.
Through his first five Triple-A games, White was hitting .550 (11 for 20) with no homers but four extra-base hits and five RBIs. He owns a whopping .591 on-base percentage (with the league average at .315). and a torrid on-base/plus slugging percentage of 1.341 (with a league average of .717).
“I don’t really look for home runs,” said the 5-foot-11, 225-pound White said. “Line drives is what you’re really aiming for.
“I try to think of myself more of an RBI guy who hits to the gaps. Home runs are hard. But home runs are really mistake hits. Really good mistakes. When you get under it a little bit, it’s kind of a mistake. You want to square it up.”
White, 24, has stayed true to his approach since he was selected by the Grizzlies parent club, the Houston Astros, in the 33rd round of the 2013 draft.
In 838 minor league at-bats, White has just 28 home runs but 57 doubles and three triples among his 255 hits for a .304 career average and an extra-base average of .345.
At Double A this season, White hit .284 with seven homers and 40 RBIs while sporting a .415 OBP and .842 OPS.
“He looks like a pure hitter,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He just looks like he can put the ball in play, has a little power. He’s looked good.”
The addition of White and the return of outfielder Domingo Santana on Tuesday, after he was optioned back to Fresno by the Astros, has helped replenish some of the power that the Grizzlies lost because of other call-ups over the course of the season.
Santana, 22, was hitting .320 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs in 56 Triple-A games prior to his call-up.
Home runs are hard. But home runs are really mistake hits. Really good mistakes. When you get under it a little bit, it's kind of a mistake.
Grizzlies newcomer Tyler White
As recently as last month, the Grizzlies led the 16-team Pacific Coast League in home runs, runs and RBIs.
But following the promotion of outfielder Preston Tucker, shortstop Carlos Correa, first baseman Jon Singleton, the absence of Santana for just under a month, and the departure of opening day third baseman Matt Dominguez (waived in a roster squeeze), the Grizzlies have dropped to sixth in home runs (78) while maintaining a slim lead in runs (474, or 5.58 per game) and falling into a tie with the Las Vegas 51s with 446 RBIs.
White, who has played first and third, is hoping his bat will help keep the production high, though he isn’t quite sold on the notion that he can come close to replacing Singleton’s power output.
Singleton, despite his June 26 call-up, still leads all Triple-A hitters with 17 home runs.
Of course, there’s also that matter of White winning the Double-A home run derby last month.
“I was just hoping to hit one,” White said. “I just got into a groove.”
White, however, doesn’t envision his derby swing carrying over for the long term to game situations.
“Definitely not trying to be Singleton,” White said. “He’s a great player. He’s one of the best power hitters I’ve ever seen hit.
“I try to use the bat to my advantage. Not really the big swing, home run guy. At times you try to do too much and be something you’re not, that’s when you start struggling. I try not to do anything I feel like I can’t do.”
Tyler White file
- Position: First/third base
- Age: 24
- Height/weight: 5-11, 225
- Bats/throws: Right/right
- Drafted: By the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2013 amateur draft
- Prior to Triple-A: Hit .284 with seven homers, 33 runs and 40 RBIs this season for Double-A Corpus Christi