Entering Wednesday, Manuel Margot hit only five home runs in 541 career Minor League plate appearances, and only one of those long balls came in 2013 when he spent the season with Class A Short-Season Lowell. Put plainly, no one expects him to win any home run crowns anytime soon. But on Wednesday, the youngster showed he does have the ability to put a charge into the ball every now and again.
Margot -- the No. 11 Red Sox prospect, according to MLB.com -- went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs on Wednesday to lead Class A Greenville to a 6-3 win over Charleston. It was the first career multi-homer game for the center fielder, whose power was graded as a 40 on the 20-80 scale by MLB.com.
The 19-year-old right-handed hitter opened the Greenville side of the scoring when he took a 3-1 offering from RiverDogs right-handed starter Rookie Davis over the left-field wall for a two-run shot. He found himself in another hitter's count in the eighth, when he lifted a 2-0 pitch from right-handed reliever Andrew Benak for another two-run homer to left.
Both pitches were mistakes from hurlers looking to get a pitch over the plate and were treated as such by Margot.
"He was just looking for a fastball in, right there," said Greenville hitting coach Nelson Paulino. "He was thinking about getting something he could make good contact with, and that's what happened."
After starting the season 0-for-8 with two strikeouts in his first two games, the Dominican Republic native is 6-for-12 with the two homers, a double and five RBIs in his last three contests. Though it might be fun to extrapolate his one-game power surge out over the rest of the season, it's still much too early to believe Wednesday's fireworks predict a double-digit number of homers in 2014. Still, his adequate bat (.270 average in 2013) and plus speed (18 steals) are causes for offensive optimism.
"He's got gap power right now," Paulino said. "But he is strong and he has really quick hands. Overall, he's under control. He knows how to be patient up there, take his pitches and not try to do anything extra."
Power wasn't the only thing on display in Wednesday's win. Margot also notched his first outfield assist of the season when he connected on a relay throw to shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin and catcher Jake Romanski to nail RiverDogs DH Miguel Andujar at the plate following a Gosuke Katoh double in the third inning.
It was the 19-year-old's overall package of hitting, speed and plus defense that led MiLB.com to name him a potential breakout prospect before the season began.
"Manuel has the ability to impact all facets of the game," Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett told MiLB.com. "He is an aggressive player, something that really helps him defensively and on the bases, and something he is working to refine at the plate. Often he shows excellent recognition skills and the ability to control the strike zone. It's just a matter of him progressing those skills to be more consistent day in and day out, and regardless of the game situation."
Although he's only been with the Drive for a week, those around the club already agree with that assessment.
"He's got Major League tools all around," Paulino said. "He's working hard every day, and the best part is he never shows panic. He focuses on his daily routine and gets right into every day. He knows what he's doing."
No. 18 Red Sox prospect and Drive starter Cody Kukuk allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks and struck out five in three innings.