Joey Terdoslavich considers home runs to be, in a way, mistakes. You try to take a line drive swing, get just a little under the ball and you give it enough loft to carry out.
It's nice when it happens, but the overwhelming majority of the time, your real aim is simply to put a level swing on the ball and drive it into the outfield.
By that logic, the Braves' No. 14 prospect is having quite a mistake-filled season.
Terdsolavich capped a two-homer, five-RBI night with a walk-off blast in the ninth inning Saturday, giving Gwinnett a 9-8 triumph over Syracuse at Coolray Field.
"I haven't really hit home runs like this before, but I always felt that home runs were mistakes," he said. "They're line drive swings that you get a little underneath and the ball carries out. So this year I have, I guess, 17 balls that I just got a bit underneath on a line drive swing.
"A tick more on top of the ball and they're line drives in the gap. So I just try to stay gap-to-gap, and if I'm a little underneath it, hopefully it goes out."
For the most part, they have. The homers on Saturday were his 16th and 17th of the season, leaving him fourth in the International League. The 24-year-old is hitting .321/.356/.582 overall with 22 doubles and ranks fourth in the IL with 56 RBIs.
It's a marked turnaround from his introduction to Triple-A last season, when he batted .180/.252/.263 in 53 games. He earned a quick promotion after hitting .315 at Double-A Mississippi, but by the end of the year, he was working out a hitch that had developed in his swing.
"I don't know where it came from, but last year toward the end of my time in Triple-A I was working to get it fixed, get it out of there," Terdoslavich said. "Now that I have it out, I can wait longer, see the ball better and not miss my pitch. I was getting into good counts to hit in last year, 2-0 counts, and I'd miss my pitch. And then, you know, the pitcher makes a good pitch on the next one and it's 2-2 and I strike out.
"I couldn't take the kind of swings I wanted to with the way my swing was last year. Now I can wait longer, miss less pitches."
He's also been hitting as well as he has while playing the outfield full-time for the first time in his pro career. He played first base primarily with Mississippi, then shifted to third in his first stint with Gwinnett.
"I played it a little bit in the past, in college, in the Cape Cod League, a little in high school as a sophomore, but it's going well. I've had some growing pains, some misreads, those little kinds of things. But I'm learning and they're correctable problems I've had that I think everybody goes through going from the infield to the outfield," Terdoslavich said.
"It's like my outfield coordinator said, 'You never see the same ball twice.' For you to learn the play the outfield, you just have to see that ball, the way it was hit. I just need time and work, and I'm going to continue to do that."
Jose Yepez doubled and plated a pair of runs for the Braves, who erased an 8-7 deficit in the ninth to win their fifth straight game.
Nationals No. 14 prospect Zach Walters also hit two homers for the Chiefs, putting him just ahead of Terdoslavich on the IL leaderboard with 18.