Name: Brian Joynt
DOB: March 14, 1985
After hitting .195 without a homer and 42 strikeouts in 128 at-bats during his professional debut season, Joynt was in danger of a one-and-done minor league career.
The Padres saw something in the former 29th-round pick, however, and worked with him throughout the off-season and into the year. The rewards were quickly evident.
After beginning the season in extended spring training, Joynt was moved up to Fort Wayne in late May and went 1-for-4 across three games.
A need in Lake Elsinore moved him out west and Joynt responded immediate. In his first game, the hulking right-handed hitter went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. He homered in the subsequent game and the trend was on.
In 76 games, Joynt hit .304 with 13 homers and 67 RBI – giving the Padres' Lake Elsinore affiliate a much-needed jolt after they suspended Rayner Contreras.
In total, Joynt amassed 42 extra base hits while drawing 35 walks for a .382 on-base percentage. And – he was consistent throughout the season, hitting at least .278 in every month.
He was ninth in the league among all hitters with at least 280 at-bats with a 16.2 wRAA (Runs Above Average), the third-best mark on the team and astounding for a player who only played half a season with the Storm. He was also seventh in slugging (.548) and wOBA (.392).
"He's a big strong guy," Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano said. "When he hits that ball, he's got outstanding power." We let him play relaxed, and he got a good start and he built up from that. He worked very hard with (hitting coach) Shane Spencer, and he did a good job for us. For him to have consistency, he needs to play every day.
Joynt was sent out to the Padres Instructional League with an eye on learning to play more comfortably at first base.
The Padres were ecstatic to see Joynt come back from the 2007 off-season in terrific shape. He had mechanical flaws that were causing him to leap forward and lunge at pitches – putting his time off and making him chase pitches. When a solid fastball would come into his wheelhouse, Joynt could not make the necessary adjustments to catch up to the offering.
"He's always been a big physical guy when we signed him out of a small college program," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He kind of got forced fed quite a bit of information last year, and we weren't really sure of what type of game he had. He did some things wrong mechanically, wasn't recognizing pitches and his timing was off. He went home and in the winter; he really worked his butt off and totally re-arranged his body. The guy is ripped and he got an opportunity this year and made the most of it."
He worked hard with the coaching staff on his timing and pitch recognition. Instead of leaking forward, the California native allowed the ball to travel deeper – giving him that extra instant of time to understand the spin of the ball and type of pitch being delivered.
"We let him play relaxed, and he got a good start and he built up from that," Lezcano said. "He worked very hard with (hitting coach) Shane Spencer, and he did a good job for us. For him to have consistency, he needs to play every day."
There are times when Joynt gets antsy waiting for the breaking ball. He will dive out over the plate and lose his balance as a result. Besides his positional work in instructs, Joynt also went to work on becoming a better breaking ball hitter – understanding when to lay off and when to take his hacks.
With his powerfully built frame, Joynt has a tendency to become pull happy. He will try and pull balls that should be hit where it was pitched – hitting weak grounders or popping the ball up as a result.
He needs to work on keeping his hands inside the ball and taking the ball to right field. With his power, he can shoot the ball out of any side of the park.
Joynt had better success against starting pitchers, suggesting he needs a look or two at a pitcher before feeling truly comfortable.
Despite his size, Joynt does have some speed that he takes advantage of with timely stolen bases. It is a tool that could be used in the outfield as well, as his speed will allow him the range necessary to play the corners.
"I like him," Lezcano added. "He's a kid that can run, he's got a good arm, he's got power. He's got three tools there; he needs to work on his defense. He went to play first base and outfield in instructional league. He needs to find a place to play defensively. He needs to stay inside the ball and try not to get long and pull the ball. He needs power also to right-center."
Joynt doesn't have great lateral movement but more straight line speed. That made third base a little tougher to man. He has solid glove work but the footwork and balance need improvement. He will get looks at first base and the outfield for the upcoming season and needs game action to improve at both spots.
"We are slowly weaning him off of third, giving him some time in the outfield and also giving him some time at first," Fuson said.
Named the winner of the Leadership Award at Padres instructs, Joynt was recognized for his ability to take instruction and turn it into application on the field. Besides that, his work ethic was applauded on and off the field. He doesn't take a play off and the Padres felt it was worthy of their highest praise – a model for others to look at what can be accomplished in the span of a season.
Conclusion: His ability to play first base, third base and the outfield makes him a valuable commodity heading into Double-A. The magic word, however, is Double-A, and Joynt will have to prove his numbers were not simply a product of the hitter friendly California League.
Joynt has plus power potential and made significant strides in a single season. If he can make similar adjustments with the bat, especially as the breaking ball becomes a predominant pitch in his diet, he can take the next step in securing his prospect status.
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