The hardest major league player to strike out in 2006 was Juan Pierre, who had .051 strikeouts per plate appearance. In the Pacific Coast League, Callaspo was even tougher, with just .049 strikeouts per PA at Tucson.
-- Callaspo has struck out just once in 45 at-bats, walking four times with a home run and six doubles. When he joined the Royals last December from Arizona in the Billy Bucker trade, Craig Brown of Royals Authority wrote,
What we have here is a hitter who has outstanding knowledge of the strike zone. In other words, because he’s going to stay within the zone and not chase bad pitches, he’s going to make a pitcher work for the out. And by putting the ball in play, the defense is going to have to work for the out as well.
and so far that's what he's shown. Of course, it's early -- yes, we're still only in spring training -- but the Royals may well have found their future starting second baseman.
It'd be quite the steal. Last year, Callaspo looked like he was ready to become a mainstay in Arizona when he broke camp on the Diamondbacks' 25-man roster, but an arrest for domestic abuse in May -- the charges were later dropped -- and a prolonged hitting slump set him back. He was optioned to Triple-A Tucson in mid-June, but the change in scenery didn't dismay him, as far as we can tell. His line in the Pacific Coast League:
226 AB, .341/.406/.491, 28/17 BB/SO, 5 HR, 15 2BWhen rosters expanded in September, the D-backs made the easy decision to recall him. But in the offseason, assessing their options with Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds and Chad Tracy, the D-backs decided Callaspo was the odd man out (he's had a bit of bad luck with organizational depth charts, as he played alongside the likes of Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar in Anaheim). Young GM Josh Byrnes pulled the trigger on the Buckner deal -- he was looking to replenish his pool of young arms, having recently depleted it to acquire Dan Haren from Oakland -- and the rest, as they say, is history.
Callaspo will get more opportunities in Kansas City to prove his worth. We appreciate Grudzielanek's contributions to the team as much as the next guy, but Callaspo needs to start, and soon. After a few early setbacks, Callaspo's career may be back on track, and at just 24 years of age, we can only hope it's beginning its upswing.
The Royal Waterfall (newly added to IDWT's blogroll) has more to say.
POSTSCRIPT: The return of Royales with Cheese!