Spikes outfielder Justin Toerner has been on a bit of a roll in his first season of professional baseball. After going 2-for-4 against the Lowell Spinners on Sunday, Toerner is on an eight-game hit streak, which ranks as the longest in his young career.
The Cardinals selected the Cal State Northridge product in the 28th round of last month’s draft after he hit .279 with six home runs and 31 RBIs this season for the Matadors to earn second team All-Big West honors.
St. Louis assigned Toerner, a lefthanded hitting centerfielder, to State College to make his pro debut. He hit .333 in his first five professional games and was batting .273 with a .373 on base percentage through his first 12 games of the season. Then Toerner’s season hit a bit of snag.
Toerner went just 7-for-43 (.163) during his next 15 games. A five-game hitless streak from July 11-16 dropped his season batting average to .204 and his on-base percentage to .288. Those numbers have climbed back up during Toerner’s eight-game hit streak.
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The 21-year-old is 10-of-28 (.357) in his past eight games. He also has eight walks and four RBIs. Toerner is now hitting .240 with a .348 on base percentage this season. His 17 walks rank tied for third on the Spikes.
Offense wakes up for season-long win streak
The Spikes had one of their roughest stretches of the season last week when they dropped four of five games. State College’s pitching held up, allowing more than four runs just once during that stretch, but the Spikes offense struggled as the team was shut out twice and went 22-of-151 at the plate for a .146 batting average.
State College regrouped with its longest winning streak of the season this past weekend. The Spikes won four in a row, taking the last game of their series against Connecticut before sweeping the Lowell Spinners. The offense came alive during the four-game win streak as the Spikes averaged more than six runs per game and batted .270 at the plate.
The Spikes have been helped by 19 extra base hits. They have 15 doubles, three triples and one homer in their last five games. Outfielder Wadye Ynfante has been at the center of the offensive outburst. He went 1-for-4 with a double on Friday, 2-for-4 with a double and a homer on Saturday and 3-for-4 with two doubles on Sunday.
Spikes have two of Cardinals’ top prospects
MLB.com unveiled its midseason top 30 prospects lists for each organization late last week. The Spikes have two of the names on the St. Louis Cardinals’ list. Outfielder Wadye Ynfante ranks No. 22 and shortstop Delvin Perez ranks No. 27 on the updated list. Both dropped a few spots as Ynfante was ranked No. 19 and Perez ranked No. 25 before the season.
Ynfante was signed by the Cardinals as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. After four seasons of rookie ball, he has struggled a bit in his first season for State College. The speedy outfielder is hitting .214 this season after batting .299 with the Johnson City Cardinals a season ago. Considered a prospect for his speed and projected power, Ynfante has four steals in five attempts this season and has five extra base hits in his past three games.
Perez, a 2016 first round pick, is considered a glove-first shortstop with plus speed. Still just 19 years old, Perez has had an improved year at the plate. Perez hit just .203 with five extra base hits last season in 34 games for Johnson City and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. He is hitting .266 with five extra base hits in 32 games for State College.
What’s on deck?
Coming off a six-game road trip, the Spikes (18-23) returned home on Monday to start a seven-game homestand. The stand starts with a series against the Batavia Muckdogs (17-24), who sit right behind the Spikes in fourth place in the New York-Penn League’s Pinckney division.
Batavia’s offense ranks seventh in the 14-team league with a .245 batting average, but the Muckdogs have some pop at the plate to make them dangerous. The team ranks third in the league in homers (23), second in total bases (498) and third in slugging percentage (.360). First baseman Sean Reynolds, a 2016 fourth-round pick, leads the New York-Penn League with eight homers this season.
The Muckdogs have one of the Miami Marlins’ top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com. Outfielder Brayan Hernandez, who is Miami’s 27th prospect, has had a bit of a down year so far for Batavia. He has a .240/.315/.364 slash line with nine doubles and one home run in 32 games. However, he is hitting .310 over his last 10 games.
Outfielder Brandon Benson has been on the move quite a bit this season. After finishing last season with the Spikes, Benson was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in June. He spent 11 games in the Gulf Coast League before being assigned to State College on July 10.
Benson batted .233 with two doubles and a triple in 13 games with the Spikes, but he is on the move again. The Cardinals’ 20th round pick in 2017 was assigned to Peoria on Saturday. He went 2-for-5 with a double and one RBI in his first game with the Chiefs.