Stephen Bruno dug into the box in the ninth inning of Saturday night's game at Jackson with two outs, a man on first base and his Tennessee Smokies holding a two-run lead.
Though he was just a triple shy of the cycle, Bruno focused simply on advancing the baserunner, thinking of insurance runs rather than personal stats. With one swing, he drove the runner in -- and himself. The Cubs prospect launched his second homer of the game, and in no way was he unhappy about missing out on the cycle.
"I haven't hit many home runs in professional baseball," Bruno said after Double-A Tennessee's 10-6 win over the Generals. "It was pretty special tonight to have two. My dad was very excited. He was the first person I called when the game was over. That was just a special moment for us."
Bruno's two-out, ninth-inning blast netted the second baseman a pair of RBIs, just like his long ball in the third. He finished 4-for-6 with four RBIs, three runs scored and his 12th stolen base of the year.
"At the beginning of the season, I struggled a little bit and made some adjustments," said Bruno, who needed only four innings to get to within a triple of the cycle. "You play through a few weeks, and I'm starting to get used to playing again after missing so many games last year, but I just got in a groove and was seeing the ball well.
"Like I said, I made some adjustments, mentally and physically. I just got a couple good pitches to hit. That's my goal, is to have quality at-bats. Luckily, some of those balls fell and I had a good night tonight."
If Saturday's performance indicated that the Cubs' 2012 seventh-round Draft pick is making up for lost time, that's because he is. His production in 2014 comes a year after he underwent Tommy John surgery and was limited to 19 games at Class A Advanced Daytona.
In nine games this month, Bruno is hitting .500 (17-for-34) with 12 RBIs. And through 29 games this season, he has a .312/.414/.523 slash line with three homers and 17 RBIs.
Those statistics might impress many, but the University of Virginia product isn't one of them.
"I'm not a stat guy, I've never been," Bruno said. "I don't like to look at stats. I don't like to concern myself with it. Like I said before, for me, I don't care if I go 0-for-10. As long as those 10 are quality at-bats, then I'm able to put my head on the pillow at night and know that I had a good ballgame. It's just great that some of those hits are falling. As long as my approach is there, that's all I'm worried about."
Bruno gives an enormous amount of credit for his success to Smokies hitting coach Desi Wilson. And he's also learned up some lessons from his good friend and roommate, Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect. Bryant went 2-for-5 with his Southern League-leading 10th homer and two RBIs.
"It's unbelievable," Bruno said of Bryant's power. "Besides the fact that he's an unbelievable ballplayer, he's just a great guy. He's one of those great teammates that just so many people learn from. He's just a great person to have around, not to mention how impressive he is."
While Bryant is the one known for dialing long distance, it was Bruno who sent the most fireworks into the sky on Saturday.
"He said something to me going into the field for the bottom of the ninth," Bruno recalled with a laugh. "I said, 'Yeah, I appreciate it, Kris, but I don't like to talk about stats.'
"Just kind of some roommate fun right there. But, yeah, he congratulated me and I'm sure he's happy for me, just like I was happy for him that he got that home run. I think it was the eighth inning, after I led off the inning with an out. So he's got my back."
The teammates weren't the only ones to leave the yard on Saturday as Jackson's Daniel Paolini crushed a two-out grand slam in the second inning. The teams continue their five-game series on Sunday at Generals Park.