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Wednesday, October 2, 2002


[MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL]



Victorino succeeded
in jump to Double A

SECOND IN A SERIES


By Al Chase
achase@starbulletin.com

Shane Victorino made a successful jump from low Class-A ball to Double A this year, but playing the entire year injury free was the best aspect of his season.

One reward for the St. Anthony graduate is the Los Angeles Dodgers are sending him to play in the Arizona Fall League. This is a competitive league for players considered to be major-league prospects and not to be confused with fall instructional league teams held at their spring training sites.

"I'm happy to be going. If you know baseball and you know what type of league it is, there will be a lot of eyes watching you," said Victorino.

Bill Bavasi, the Dodgers director of player development, said: "They send players to the Fall League based on the positions we are assigned. We got a center field spot and we felt Shane would be a good fit for that. It definitely will be a challenge for him and a good experience."

Victorino slowly grew into playing at the higher level and accelerated the process in the second half of the Southern League season when the Jacksonville Suns' hitting coach, one-time Hawaii Islander Gene Richards, suggested he return to switch hitting. He did that two years ago, but swung strictly from the right side last year.

"I went through the first half as a right-hander and was having trouble with the curveball. Pitchers throw it consistently for strikes at this level," said Victorino. "I saw the ball a lot better, but struggled with the changeup and slider because those pitches come into me. Obviously, I got better and the strikeout ratio got better."

His strikeout-to-walk ratio was almost one to one. In 481 official at bats, he fanned 49 times and drew 47 walks. Batting either first or second in the lineup, this helped Victorino set the table for Jacksonville's run producers. He also put himself in scoring position often by stealing successfully on 45 (second best in the SL) out of 61 attempts.

"The older guys on the team helped me a lot. I think I learned to play the game at a more mature level," said Victorino who turns 22 in November.

"I'm a lot more comfortable hitting from the left side this time. I know I can do it and there are a lot more right-handed pitchers. If I can finish above .250, it will be a successful year."

He ended up at .258, had 15 doubles, a triple, four home runs and knocked in 34 teammates. His defense remained superb as he was charged with only four errors in 122 games.

If Victorino has a solid fall in Arizona, he should head to camp next spring with the opportunity to challenge for a spot on the roster of the Dodgers' Triple-A team in Las Vegas.



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