Rodney Daal suspected it was only a matter of time before he started piling up multiple-hit games. Turns out, he was right.
The Padres prospect was hitting .200, despite singling twice in his last game. On Sunday, he went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers, a double, four RBIs and three runs scored to power Class A Fort Wayne to a 13-7 victory over Dayton.
"I know I can hit," Daal said, "so even though I've been working at that, I don't really worry about it too much."
The 19-year-old catcher from the Netherlands had been putting in extra time in the batting cage and felt rewarded when he smacked a two-run homer off Dragons starter Sal Romano in the third inning.
"That feels great," Daal said. "I've been working with our hitting coach [Morgan Burkhart] a lot. I've been making adjustments and it was great to have it finally pay off. I've been working mostly on hitting through the ball, not pulling off, and using the opposite field a lot more."
Both of the homers came on inside pitches that the right-handed hitter deposited over the left-field fence. But he was successful in going the other way in the fourth, poking an outside offering into right field for a single and his third RBI. He doubled to deep center in the fifth and was hit by a pitch his next time up.
"It got me on the hand, right on the pinkie," Daal said. "It hurt. It's a little swollen, but it's fine."
When he returned to the plate in the eighth, he needed a triple for the cycle. But the thought never crossed his mind.
"I wasn't thinking about [the cycle] at all," he said. "I was trying to stay within myself, trying not do too much. That's what's got me in trouble before, so I was just trying to stay under control. I saw a good a pitch inside and I turned on it."
While he was relieved to have a big offensive day, Daal's primary focus has been elsewhere in his first full pro season.
"My goals for the season are being a better defensive catcher because I struggled at that last year," said Daal, who split 2012 between the Rookie-level Arizona League and the short-season Northwest League. "I'm trying to improve on that as best I can.
"All I think about is defense. I'm definitely more comfortable behind the plate [because of the added focus] lately. Blocking balls, throwing, calling the game ... all that stuff, I can feel I'm getting better and better. I'm feeling really good back there."
Daal signed with the Padres in 2010 out of a college in the Netherlands, and he wished his mom a happy Mother's Day before the game. She watched Sunday's action from Amsterdam on MiLB.TV.
"I told her I was going to hit her a home run today," he said. "I wasn't expecting to hit two."
Jeremy Baltz also drove in three runs for Fort Wayne, while Luis Tejada hit a two-run homer and triped.
Reds No. 11 prospect Jesse Winker went 3-for-5 and was one of three Dragons who drove in two runs.