CHICAGO -- As the D-backs continue to bring up young players from their Minor League system, you can see a new brand of baseball developing. It’s energetic, athletic and exciting, and it's also leading to more wins.
The latest example came Saturday night when the D-backs’ Jake McCarthy picked up a career-high four hits, stole two bases and scored three runs in Arizona's 10-5 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
McCarthy had Friday night off. But he watched from the bench as center fielder Alek Thomas and right fielder Daulton Varsho each made run-saving catches, covering a lot of ground in the outfield in a 7-2 win.
Saturday, though, McCarthy was in the middle of it all.
"Just a very energized player that’s putting a lot of concepts together," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of McCarthy. "I think there was a lot of raw talent when he entered the system. He’s done a really good job of slowing things down when needed and being very competitive on both sides of the ball. It’s showing up here. He got four big hits today."
McCarthy, 25, made his big league debut last season and hit .220 in 70 plate appearances. He made the Opening Day roster this year and did not get a ton of playing time, so he was optioned back to Triple-A Reno near the end of April.
A second stint in the Majors yielded a little more success, but it was not until he was called up just before the All-Star break that it all started to come together for him.
"I just think the more you do something, the more experience you get, [the game] should slow down," McCarthy said. "Just trying to continue to control the things I can control, trying to put good swings on good pitches. Tonight I could have easily been 0-for-5, and I went 4-for-5. That’s kind of the even keel I’ve been trying to keep. I’m just trying to be consistent."
McCarthy adjusted his mechanics at the plate this year, ditching the higher leg kick that he had last year. The result has been a simplified approach at the plate that has cut down on chasing pitches out of the zone.
"I was happy with my year last year, but I think there were a lot of inconsistencies at the plate," McCarthy said. "I think I was striking out and swinging through or fouling off pitches I usually, not necessarily do damage, but could put the barrel on. I think a leg kick kind of complicates things if guys are changing speeds a lot. Last year when I got up to The Show, it seemed like I was seeing a lot of offspeed pitches. I just wanted to combat that somehow."
McCarthy's speed on the bases is a real weapon, as well. Take the eighth inning as an example.
McCarthy led off the inning by just barely beating out an infield single. Then he stole second base, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a single. The stolen base was his 12th this year in 13 attempts.
"He puts the bat on the ball often," said starter Merrill Kelly. "He doesn’t strike out a lot. When he gets on base, he’s causing havoc. He’s stealing bases. He’s putting a lot of pressure on not only the catcher but the pitcher. I know, for me, when there’s a guy who is fast and good at stealing bases over there, my attention is definitely not 100 percent on the hitter like it should be. I would imagine he probably causes the same problem for opposing pitchers."
McCarthy, Varsho, Thomas and Josh Rojas are all aggressive on the bases. It's part of a new group of D-backs that is fun to watch.