Canzone keeps raking in Fall League

November 16th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE -- At the end of June, D-backs outfield prospect Dominic Canzone was scuffling, carrying a .220/.279/.380 line in High-A Hillsboro along with some time on the injured list. A change was in order, and the tinkering he did not only got him going with the Hops, but it helped him earn a promotion to Double-A and a trip to the Arizona Fall League. He hasn’t stopped hitting since.

Canzone led off Tuesday’s game for the Salt River Rafters against the Glendale Desert Dogs with a home run, one of three hits for him on the afternoon. It was his second long ball in as many days, helping the Rafters beat the Desert Dogs, 5-0.

Canzone’s retooled swing has helped him put up a .349/.431/.556 slash line this fall and the power has been showing up as the AFL season comes to a close, with all three of his homers in his last four games. He’s gone 9-for-19 with six RBIs in that span. He struck early Tuesday, leading off for the Rafters and depositing the first pitch he saw -- a 92.4 mph fastball from Angels pitcher Robinson Pina -- deep over the right-field fence, 432 feet from home plate and 110.6 mph off the bat.

“I was really just trying to ambush a heater,” Canzone said. “It was right down the middle and I took advantage. I was happy to be a little bit aggressive earlier in the game. Usually, I take that first pitch. It felt a little different today and I wanted to get on that first one.”

It was one of three base hits over 100 mph for the left-handed-hitting outfielder. He singled in the second and drove in a run to give the Rafters a 3-0 lead. That was more than enough for a pitching staff that combined on a four-hit shutout, with Rockies starter Matt Dennis going three frames and striking out three. Mets right-hander Connor Gray also tossed three shutout frames with four K’s. Brett Baty (NYM 2) drove in three to help put the game away, and Canzone added a double in the fifth, not looking at all like a guy ready for the season to come to an end.

“I’m definitely a little bit sore. It’s been a long season, but the swing definitely feels good,” Canzone said.

That's something of an understatement after the adjustments made following his early struggles. In 18 July games with Hillsboro, Canzone posted a 1.006 OPS to earn a bump up to Double-A Amarillo. He extended an overall hitting streak to 17 games and batted .354/.425/.592 in his 35 games at the next level.

“It was right after my injury in Hillsboro,” Canzone said about his swing change. “I was just grinding with my hitting coach, K.C. Judge. We had been pounding on the high finish, just trying to get the ball in the air and do as much damage as possible. It definitely took a little bit of an adjustment period with the new finish. I started to get some balls in the air in Hillsboro and a couple left the yard. Right then, I was like, ‘I need to stick with this. I need to keep grinding at this.’ We worked on it every single day until I left for Amarillo. It was a really good experience this year, and you always have to make adjustments, so you have to be ready at all times.”

Not that he was all in from the get-go. Hitters can be a stubborn sort and Canzone had found success in the past, putting up good numbers at Ohio State to earn an eighth-round selection in the 2019 Draft. He performed well during his pro debut that summer. But eventually his defenses wore down and he knew he needed to make some changes.

“K.C. will tell you I was a little stingy with it at first,” Canzone said. “I didn’t really want to go to it at first because it was unnatural to me. It definitely took some convincing on his part. After not doing so well at the beginning of the season, I was like, ‘I have to make an adjustment,’ so that was part of it.”

His Rafters certainly have made an adjustment and have won three in a row. Tuesday’s victory dropped Glendale a game behind Surprise in the West Division race for a spot in Saturday’s championship game.

“We definitely had a rough stretch, but at the same time, we were losing games by one run,” Canzone said. “We were definitely competing still. It’s really good to see all the hard work is paying off and got a couple more ‘dubs’ this week.”