It's taken Jon Garcia longer than he would have liked, but he feels like he has a grip on the California League.
"I feel like I'm playing up to the level," Garcia said through Rancho Cucamonga manager Carlos Subero, who served as a translator. "I'm definitely feeling better [than last year]."
The Dodgers prospect clubbed his 15th and 16th homers Friday night, going 4-for-5 with five RBIs and missing the cycle by a triple in the Quakes' 13-2 romp over Stockton. The roundtrippers moved him into a tie for second place in the Cal League.
Garcia hit 14 homers in 95 games with Rancho Cucamonga last season. The five RBIs, which match the career high he set with Rookie-level Odgen in 2010, gave him 39, five more than he totaled last year.
"No doubt, I have seen the growth in him from April to now," Subero said of his right fielder. "Our hitting coach, Johnny Washington, has been working hard with him and he's had a plan for him. They have not backed off and stayed on top of the plan. It's made a huge difference. You can see Johnny's lessons being able to sink in and have [Garcia] believe in it."
Garcia, a 2009 eighth-round Draft pick out of a Puerto Rico high school, has been more consistent this year, but his bat has been particularly scorching of late. Friday was his fifth multi-hit game this month and follows a 5-for-6, four-RBI game on Sunday.
"I've been working hard with Carlos and with Johnny Washington, and I've felt really good lately," Garcia said. "Nothing too special, but working hard and swinging well."
Last year, he had difficulty shaking off shortcomings.
"Now I can put up a good at-bat. Sometimes I strike out and, mentally, it's not easy, but I'm coming out of it quicker. If I strike out, it's still possible to have a good game," he said. "I've been better at pitch recognition with breaking pitches. Maturity and confidence have helped. Knowing that I can hit a breaking pitch, having that confidence, has meant that I've been able to regroup. That's been keeping me out of prolonged slumps."
In the first inning Friday, he sent a two-run blast over the left-field fence. He did it again in the third but admitted the two homers affected the approach in his next trip to the plate.
"I got a little anxious and tried to go for a third home run," he said.
Garcia swung hard at a first-pitch fastball, which fell in shallow left for a single.
"In my at-bats after that, I said, 'Keep back, try to hit singles. Just keep doing what you're doing.'"
In his final at-bat, he slapped the ball over the head of center fielder Myrio Richard to plate another run.
"I thought I had four or something," Garcia said of his RBI total, "but I didn't realize it was five."
To Subero, who's watched Garcia's development on a daily basis, the performance was no surprise.
"You can see the growth, seeing him run the bases -- he has seven stolen bases already -- and throwing guys out," the manager said. "He's letting his talent come out."
Chris Jacobs was 4-for-4 with three doubles and two RBIs for Rancho Cucamonga, while Scott Schebler and Noel Cuevas each had three hits and three runs scored.
Stockton's Max Muncy extended his Cal League lead with his 17th homer in the first inning.