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Bite Watch: MLB hot hitters lead the way
05/24/2019 1:47 AM ET
Outfield prayers have been answered for strong US form.
Outfield prayers have been answered for strong US form. (Ryan Schembri/SMP Images/ABL Media)

Two months into the US season and at the top our alumni are thriving, especially at a rejuvinated Tampa Bay. Other past stars are knocking on the door of a call-up, yet some experienced veterans need a change in fortune to earn another chance.

 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

 

Ji-Man Choi (2012/13 - 1B/DH, Tampa Bay Rays)

In-between Instagram posts about dogs, food and the cool life of a MLB player, Ji-Man Choi has been working hard with the pace-setting Rays. At one point they led the league with a 14-5 record but after two months have settled at 29-18 (as of May 23). Looking at the big picture, the AL East is stacked with New York Yankees in first, Tampa Bay and Boston close behind in both wild card spots.

 

Personally Choi is hitting .264 with 34 hits in 36 games. He averaged .309 in April while his safe hands at first base give the Rays a defensively sound starter.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @Ji_man_choi / @raysbaseball | Twitter @cjm0519 / @RaysBaseball | Facebook @Rays

 

Brandon Dixon (2014/15 - OF/1B, Detroit Tigers)

When Brandon Dixon made his MLB debut last year for Cincinnati he couldn't bring his hot AAA form with him. Ahead of his season with Detroit similar doubts lingered over where he would fit in… 20 games later those doubts are gone. He's averaging .291 with a .527 slugging percentage, has hit a clutch walk-off homer, and already bested his RBI tally from 74 games last year. Dixon even pitched a strikeout in a blowout loss - although we doubt a pitching switch is on the cards.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @brandonadixon / @tigers | Twitter @_badix / @tigers | Facebook @Tigers

 

 

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE (AAA)

 

Andrew Kittredge (2012/13 - Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays)

Here's a wild statement - Tampa Bay has the best pitching in MLB. Yep, you read that right. A 2.98 team ERA means there is not much room for call-ups at this stage of the season. For a AAA pitcher like Andrew Kittredge that would be frustrating, although after he struggled on the big stage last year he would be thrilled with the chance to truly make himself worthy.

 

Right now he holds a 2.30 ERA from the bullpen with three saves and 38 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. He has not allowed a run in his past 11 appearances.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @durhambulls | Twitter @amkittredge / @DurhamBulls | Facebook @durhambulls

 

Brandon Maurer (2010/11 - Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Injury has limited Brandon Maurer to just six innings and six appearances so far, all in April. When he comes back there's a 4.26 ERA to work with and a Pittsburgh bullpen that may need some new arms. If he can get his form right with Indianapolis then the Pirates will not be too far away.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @indyindians | Twitter @indyindians | Facebook @indianapolisindians

 

Travis Demeritte (2015/16 - OF, Atlanta Braves)

In most other teams, Travis Demeritte might have earned his call-up by now. The Braves are unique because they are brimming with young talent like Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley. Riley started the season at AAA with Demeritte and if Riley earned his chance, Demeritte's is not too far away.

 

He's averaging a career-best .313 with 45 hits, nine home runs and 32 RBI in 40 games. Demeritte's slugging .618 and all we can say is, don't sleep on this prospect.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @travyd_25 / @mbraves | Twitter @mbraves | Facebook @mbraves

 

 

 

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE (AAA)

 

Michael Gettys (2018/19 - OF, San Diego Padres)

Michael Gettys has clearly carried through his solid ABL form into AAA El Paso even if some of the shine has worn off recently. El Paso is a team on fire with 109 home runs in 48 games and four players, including Gettys, are already in double digits.

 

Recently his form has dipped and his average sits at .245 but with 11 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs there's been a lot of power coming off his bat. With extra bases comes extra attention and the outfielder is in a solid position for the rest of 2019.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @michaelgettys / @epchihuahuas | Twitter @Michaelgettys3 / @epchihuahuas | Facebook @epchihuahuas

 

 

Rocky Gale (2014/15 - Catcher, LA Dodgers)

After several seasons as arguably one of the top AAA catchers, has Rocky Gale hit his peak? This year has not been kind to the Dodger, with a brief five game MLB stint yielding a .133 average, while he's hitting .128 in 12 games for Oklahoma City. With limited game time and a cold bat Gale will be after a fast turnaround in form.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @okc_dodgers | Twitter @RockyGale / @okc_dodgers | Facebook @OKCDodgers

 

TEXAS LEAGUE (AA)

 

Jordan Cowan (2015-2017 - IF, Seattle Mariners)

In his first serious season at AA (there was an eight-game run in 2015) Jordan Cowan has slotted in perfectly against stronger pitchers and is one of the most consistent players with Arkansas. Hitting .284 with 38 hits, 12 RBI and 21 walks in 39 games, Cowan has brought plenty of confidence after injury limited him to 27 games last year.

 

We would be getting a little carried away saying a AAA call-up Tacoma would be a just reward (well it would be) but it's best to give Cowan more games to really find his rhythm and add more in-game strength. If this form continues, though, he could be on the way up in a few months to test his mettle.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @jcow4show / @artravs | Twitter @Jcow4show / @ARTravs | Facebook @ArkansasTravelers

 

FLORIDA STATE LEAGUE (A)

 

Aaron Whitefield (2018/19 - OF, Minnesota Twins)

 

Aaron Whitefield's best season so far was arguably 2017 at Class-A Cedar Rapids, but now in his second season with Fort Myers he looks ready to truly show America just how good he has been in the ABL. Averaging .241 with 11 doubles and three homers after 36 games Whitefield is on track for some career-best US numbers. Already he has a career-high .426 slugging average and if the extra bases continue to rack up it's going to be another good year.

 

WHERE TO FOLLOW: Instagram @aaron.whitefield / @fortmyersmiracle | Twitter @MiracleBaseball | Facebook @FortMyersMiracle

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.