While Alcides Escobar continues to hit well in the majors — he went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in Washington tonight — J.J. Hardy continues to struggle mightily at the plate for Triple A Nashville. The scuffling shortstop went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the Sounds’ 8-4 loss to Albuquerque, dropping his batting average to .147.
Hardy now has seven strikeouts in nine games played in Triple A, and has only managed five hits in 34 at-bats. Two of those five hits have been home runs, but based on the numbers it appears as though he’s still pressing too hard at the plate.
It’lll be interesting to see what happens come September 1st. As I wrote before, the Brewers are in a tough situation when it comes to Hardy’s service time. If they don’t bring him back up to Milwaukee on September 1st, Hardy’s free agent eligibility after next season may be in jeopardy. If he stays in the minors for more than 20 days, the Brewers will hold onto Hardy’s rights for an additional year, meaning he won’t be a free agent until after the 2011 season. While it might be a smart move for the organization, it would no doubt leave Hardy disgruntled and make the team’s front office look unnecessarily frugal.
On the other hand, if Hardy continues to hit this way in Triple A, the Brewers will easily be able to say he hasn’t earned his promotion back to the majors. While an additional year of team control may help Hardy’s trade value in the offseason, anything gained from that extra service year may be lost by his poor performance in the minors. He’s certainly not providing a lot of hope that he’ll figure things out and start hitting like an All-Star again.