Dodgers' Scavuzzo wins Fall League Hitting Challenge
SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- Jacob Scavuzzo may not have come into the Bowman Hitting Challenge as the favorite, but he left as the champion. Scavuzzo, an outfield prospect in the Dodgers' organization, bested all of the other hitters at the Arizona Fall League's early-season showcase on Saturday night.
Scavuzzo was in the running for the title on merit, but he needed a bit of luck to break a tie at the top. The youngster tied with Marlins No. 7 prospect Austin Dean at the top of the heap with 2,450 points, but he was judged the winner because he hit a 400-point target with his final swing. That swing, off the tee, was worth double value.
"That money ball, everybody's trying to be the guy that hits the home run because it hasn't been done before," Scavuzzo said of the tee shot. "I luckily hit it off the end a little bit and it wounded up hitting the [target], and that wound up sealing the deal for me. I'm pretty happy with the way that worked out."
The 21-year-old played in two Class A Leagues this year, and he wrapped up his year with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga in the hitter-friendly California League. Scavuzzo distinguished himself with a .308 batting average, a .376 on-base percentage and a .568 slugging mark for Rancho Cucamonga.
He showed off that hitting stroke Saturday, when he scored a 50-point bunt hit, a 200-point home run and a 300-point home run. He also hit two balls off the 300-point Bowman cutout in the infield, a 700-point knockerball in the outfield and the final 800-point shot off the inflatable target in right field.
That final shot, the money ball, was where several players were guilty of overswinging. Scavuzzo said it's tough to hit the ball out when you're generating all the power, but he enjoyed taking a hack at it.
"It's not impossible, but it's challenging," he said. "You have a lot of adrenaline and you're trying to get really big and swing as hard as you can and hit it over the fence. You have to remember the fundamentals of baseball. You grow up hitting off a tee. You just have to relate to that and be yourself."
Scavuzzo, a 21st-round selection in the 2012 MLB Draft, has methodically worked his way through the lower rungs of the Dodgers' organization, and he's managed to gain control of the strike zone. In 2014, Scavuzzo struck out 126 times in 108 games for Great Lakes, but he cut that to 98 K's in 119 games this past season.
Now, he's doing his best to stay fresh and finish strong in the Arizona Fall League.
"It's a good experience," he said of the AFL. "You get a chance to see the game's best prospects. I'm not really that tired. A lot of guys are complaining about it being a long season, but it's not my first full season. I think I've prepared my body to play well into September or October. I feel great."
Scavuzzo, a native of Orange, CA, set a personal best this season with 18 home runs combined between his top levels, and he also drilled 32 doubles between the two stops. He said he didn't necessarily have a strategy on Saturday night, but he was thrilled to see his hard work pay off.
"This was my first time doing it, and I just pretty much tried to hit the ball as hard as I can and see what would happen," he said of the Bowman Hitting Challenge. "In baseball, it's really hard to aim the ball when you're hitting. In things like this, you kind have to get lucky, and tonight I think I did."