Gary Sanchez had hit a rut in the past week and a half. Not a big one, nor a particularly alarming one, just the kind any hitter finds himself several times a season.
He'd gone 5-for-28 in his last eight games and, more uncharacteristically, struck out eight times for a rate much higher than his season norm. But, as good hitters almost always will, he's turned it around in a hurry.
The Yankees' top prospect collected three hits, including his second homer in as many games, and four RBIs to lead Class A Advanced Tampa to a rain-shortened 10-3 triumph at Clearwater.
Combined with his effort on Monday, Sanchez is 5-for-10 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last two contests.
"I'm not overly happy [with the past couple games]," he said through teammate and translator Manny Barreda. "I'm going about things day by day, working on things and taking it into the game. I still feel like there's a lot more improvement I can make. There's a lot more to play, a lot of season left, and I'm not going to be happy until the end."
Sanchez, MLB.com's No. 33 overall prospect, has been known for his power since the Yankees signed him as an international free agent in 2009. It's been no different this season, with the 20-year-old boasting 12 homers, 52 RBIs and a .490 slugging percentage in 64 games in the Florida State League.
His strikeout totals have been different, however. He'd cut down significantly on his strikeout rate each of the last two years, fanning in 31 percent of his at-bats with Class A Charleston in 2011 and 24.4 percent last season between Charleston and Tampa.
Now he's striking out only 18.3 percent of the time. And the native of the Dominican Republic is drawing slightly more walks.
"I've worked at having a better approach at the plate," said Sanchez, who has a .275/.338/.490 slash line. "[Cutting down on strikeouts] is one of the things I've been focusing on the most, having that better approach, and it's working. If you look at the results, it's a big progress and I am happy with that."
He also said he's been working on improving his skills behind the plate.
"Receiving, play-calling, just the all-around game I'm trying to improve," he said. "I know there's a lot of improvement to be done catching and hitting-wise, too, and I won't be happy until I accomplish those goals that I've set out."
Tampa also got three hits from Yankees No. 2 prospect Mason Williams, who fell a triple shy of the cycle, drove in a run, walked and scored three times out of the leadoff spot. Peter O'Brien contributed a two-run double.