Domingo Santana did not have high hopes coming into Friday night's game.
"My BP today was really terrible. I hit a lot of ground balls to shortstop and I got the feeling it was going to be a really long night," he said.
Santana was wrong about that, but he got just about everything else right. The Astros' No. 13 prospect became the first player in team history to hit three homers in a game as Double-A Corpus Christi rolled past Frisco, 9-4, at Whataburger Field.
Santana, who finished fifth in the California League with 23 home runs last season, upped this year's total to seven, despite missing action last month due to a pulled hamstring. He entered the night with 20 hits and 34 strikeouts in 83 at-bats. But his five-RBI night gave him extra-base hits in four straight games and he feels he's beginning to get the hang of Double-A ball.
"My timing has been up and down, so it's really nice [to have a game like this]," he said. "I'm learning that the game speeds up a little bit [at this level]. Pitchers locate their fastballs a lot more, a lot better. I'm trying to adjust really quick."
His efforts were successful in the first at-bat Friday night. He was waiting for a 2-0 fastball when RoughRiders starter Kevin Pucetas (4-3) tried to sneak a high slider by him. Santana pulled it over the left-field fence.
"I was just trying for a hit," he said. "I was trying to look for a good fastball to hit. I thought the first one was going to bang off the wall."
The next two?
"I knew right away. My second and third ones, I knew."
The 20-year-old outfielder connected off Pucetas again in the third, this time sending a 1-2 fastball over the left-center field fence. He bounced into a double play to end the fifth -- and Pucetas' night.
Santana said he had no thoughts of a third homer when he came to bat with runners on first and second in the seventh. But when reliever Ramon Mendez threw a wild pitch and the count went to 2-0, he knew something good was going to happen.
"I was ready for that fastball," he said.
He deposited it beyond the left-field wall and made Hooks history.
"I feel pretty good," Santana said of the record. "Pretty lucky."
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, the native of the Dominican Republic profiles as a power-hitting corner fielder. But he pays no attention to predictions, projects or his prospect status.
"I don't look at it too much. I know that I'm good and that I'm capable of doing good stuff, and I thank God for that," Santana said. "I'm just trying to make it to the big leagues. This is the only thing I really love to do -- play baseball -- and it's the only thing I know how to do, so I just concentrate on working hard at it."
Nick Tropeano, Houston's ninth-ranked prospect, gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk over four innings. He struck out five in his fourth start and eighth appearance of the season. Bobby Doran (5-0) got the win after allowing three unearned runs on two hits in 3 1/3 frames.
Pucetas was tagged with the loss and Mendez, the Rangers' No. 14 prospect, was charged with one run on one hit -- Santana's third homer -- over 1 1/3 innings.