Siani sets a strong early tone for the Lookouts

Baseball players don’t always designate a specific spring or summer as a turning point in their career.

A perfect example would be Chattanooga Lookouts center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Siani, who finished last summer with just .216 in 97 games for the Dayton, Ohio Single-A Dragons.

“I did the whole Fall League thing last year at the end of the season in Arizona, and that kind of thing ended things on a high note,” Siani told AT&T Field last week while as the Lookouts were preparing to start their 138 game South. League schedule. “It gave me some momentum heading into this season, and I felt good going into the spring, so I just have to keep that approach of being aggressive at this set and trusting what I’m doing on the field. ground.

“Hopefully it will continue to be what it is, because I want to be a guy who consistently goes on base and can hit anywhere on the pitch.”

Early returns have been promising for the 6-foot-1, 188-pound from the Philadelphia suburb of Glenside. In last weekend’s three games at Kodak against the Tennessee Smokies, he went 3-for-8 (.375) with a brace and a home run.

Siani also walked five times, giving him a .615 on-base percentage.

Chattanooga opened its 69-game home schedule Tuesday night with a 16-4 win over the Birmingham Barons. Siani took his flying start to a new level with a right single, left double and center triple as part of a 4-on-5 night.

“Hitting is one of the hardest things to do, especially in professional baseball,” Lookouts first-year manager Jose Moreno said. “It’s very different when you come from high school or college, and now you have older guys with a lot of speed and movement. I know Michael is going to do a really good job. It’s part of the process, because people go up and down like a hitter.

“You have to make adjustments almost every day, and he’s learning. He had a really good season in the fall and his second half at Dayton last year was good. Right now he just has to be constant.”

The Cincinnati Reds selected Siani from William Penn High School in Philadelphia in the fourth round (109th overall) of the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft and provided a $2 million signing bonus. MLB.com’s synopsis of Siani ahead of this season includes his ability to be a big league center back now and that he’s a threat on the way to base, as evidenced by his 30 interceptions in Dayton.

It’s just a matter of maintaining what he started in Arizona, when eight hits in two games helped erase a 3-for-21 Fall League start and catapulted him onto the wave that s continued Tuesday evening.

“I think I stuck to a routine every day and trusted it,” Siani said. “It took me a few games, because I didn’t start the best, but then I had a few games where I was just seeing a lot of throws. I was hitting the ball hard and drawing a few steps too, and he just started clicking as it went.

“You’re not going to have a ton of pitches to hit with every strike, but when you do you have to take advantage of it and put a big swing in it.”

The Eagles stun the Vols

The University of Tennessee’s 23-game winning streak ended Tuesday night with a 3-2 loss to Tennessee Tech at Smokies Park, a non-conference game in which wooden bats were used. The game drew a record crowd of 8,183 spectators to Smokies Park.

Eagles pitcher Carter Gannaway went without a hit in nearly six innings while striking out nine to lower his season ERA to 6.93. The top-ranked Vols, which have dropped to 31-2, host Alabama this weekend.

Contact David Paschall at [email protected] or 423-757-6524.

Christy J. Olson