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Giavotella continues hot start in Arizona

Giavotella continues hot start in Arizona

Johnny Giavotella said his biggest concern this fall is working on his defense. It's safe to say the other part of his game is in good shape.

"I've been pretty hot lately," the Royals prospect admitted Friday. "I'm just staying within myself and not doing to much. I'm hitting pitches where they're located, trying to hit things up the middle. And the hits are falling for me right now."

They've been falling every day.

Giavotella extended his RBI streak to five games and briefly took over the Arizona Fall League batting lead as the Surprise Rafters edged the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 7-6.

The 2008 second-round Draft pick went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Yankees right-hander Ryan Pope. He's hit safely in all five AFL games he's played and has driven in eight runs.

"To be honest, I'm not the only person who's hitting in this lineup. We're playing great team baseball," he said. "And we're winning a lot of games, we're hitting as a team right now."

The University of New Orleans product raised his batting average to .545 (12-for-22).

Giavotella led off the game with a double to center field and scored the Rafters' first run on Caleb Gindl's (Brewers) single up the middle. He homered with two outs in the fifth, doubled and scored again in the seventh and reached base a fourth time with a walk in the eighth.

"It was a 3-1 count, I was looking fastball dead red and he gave me one low and in," Giavotella said of his first AFL homer. "I put a good swing on it and and got it up."

The Louisiana native spent his first full Minor League season at Class A Advanced Wilmington in 2009 before the Royals promoted him to Double-A Northwest Arkansas this spring. He was named a Texas League All-Star ater hitting .322 with nine homers, 65 RBIs, 92 runs scored and 13 steals in 134 games.

"I feel like the pitchers are definitely a little better. But at the same time, you can't let them intimidate you," he said of the AFL. "You've got to have confidence in your abilities and good things will happen."

Giavotella saw most of his regular-season at-bats in the No. 2 spot in the Naturals' lineup. He made 13 errors at second base and is dedicated to improving his game in the field.

"My biggest thing [while in Arizona] is working defensively. I'm not what you'd call a defensive second baseman, so I wanted to work on that and fine-tune my skills around second and become an all-around good baseball player," he said.

That plan seems to be working, although Giavotella said he doesn't want to let any day-to-day success go to his head. He's also trying not to think about what 2011 holds for his career.

"I can't control that, I just go out and play my best, do the best I can and hustle every game," he said. "I'll let [the Royals] decide where I start off next year. That's not something I can control."

As for the AFL, it's been an enjoyable experience so far, beyond his on-field success.

"It's a fun league. All the players are laid back, so it's fun to hang out with the guys," Giavotella said. "You just come to the ballpark every day and have fun. That's what its all about."

Part of the new routine has been following along with the Major League Baseball postseason, especially with Surprise having several Rangers prospects on the roster.

"We've been watching all the games. We have the Texas guys on our team, so it's been fun to watch those games and see different players react differently," he said.

NOTES: Brewers 1B Hunter Morris went 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. ...Eric Hosmer, a former Royals' first-round pick, had two hits and an RBI batting cleanup for Surprise. ...Yankees RHP Craig Heyer, born in nearby Scottsdale, started for Phoenix and allowed one run on two hits and a walk over three innings. ... Pope took the loss, while another Yankees prospect, George Kontos, was charged with three runs -- one earned -- on four hits in one frame. ... Brian Broderick (Cardinals), a Phoenix native, started for Surprise and picked up the victory, holding his hometown team to a pair of runs on four hits and a walk on 61 pitches over five innings. He's 2-0. ... Cards reliever Jordan Swagerty pitched a perfect sixth for the Rafters. He recently called his AFL experience "unbelievable," adding, "The league is everything I thought it would be and more."

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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