J. R. Towles is making the most of the playing time provided by the injury to Jason Castro. Towles went 2 for 4 today with a double and a run scored. He also struck out once today. While the hits are good, the strike out may be better. It was the first time he has struck out this spring. That gives him 1 K in 20 AB (5%). How good is that? Let's put it in context of his personal history.
Last year in spring, he had 10 in 45 AB (22%). Back in spring of 09, it was 7 Ks in 21 AB (33%). In MLB regular season action, he fanned 16 times in 48 AB in the 2009 season (.33). In 2010, it was 12 Ks in 47 AB (25.5%).
Towles didn't strike out much in the minors. From 04 to 08, he amassed 1303 AB, he only fanned 186 times. That is a K rate of 14%! What changed between 2008 & his time with the big club?
Towles has stated this spring that he is hitting with his hands lower, like he used to in 2007 & 2008. The reduction in strike outs could be one indication that this adjustment is having the desired effect.
I don't expect him to keep the K rate at 5% for the rest of the spring, much less the rest of the year. Thanks to this post, he may wear the golden sombrero tomorrow. If that happens, I apologize in advance. But let's just hope he can keep the K rate in the teens. That will improve his offense and his prospects for sticking at the MLB level.