Francisco Lindor's play of late might leave Akron opponents wondering, "Who was that masked man?"
The Indians' top prospect collected three singles and scored a run to help lead the Double-A RubberDucks past the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 9-2, on Thursday.
Lindor also stole his 23rd base of the season and walked once to raise his average to .282.
"I started out with a walk today, I was seeing the ball pretty good," the 20-year-old shortstop said. "I was trying to let the ball get deep in the zone and I was trying to hit it hard, where it was pitched."
It was Lindor's second three-hit game in his last five contests. The Puerto Rico native has smacked nine hits during that stretch.
"I've been working with the hitting coach, Rouglas Odor, trying to get to that consistency every day," he said. "Swing at good pitches, don't chase, stay with your approach every single day and let the ball get deep and hit it hard."
Lindor missed six games at the end of June after a batted ball struck him in the face during a game against Erie. He suffered a non-displaced nasal fracture which has forced him to play with a mask in order to protect his face. After going 1-for-15 in his first four games back, he's gotten acclimated to the mask.
"It wasn't tough at all," MLB.com's No. 9 prospect said. "It was just about getting used to the face mask that I'm using, that is the toughest thing. It wasn't really hard, just a matter of making sure I can see when I look to the sides. Right now, the mask is great and I feel good."
Lindor is set to play in his third straight Futures Game on Sunday in Minnesota and the 2011 first-round pick looks forward to donning the World uniform again.
"I'm very excited for the Futures Game," he said. "I'm very excited and happy. I can't wait until I get there on Saturday and just enjoy it and have fun. Being with all the Puerto Ricans that are going to be there ... I believe there are six of us, that's something big for Puerto Rico. I can't wait to represent the World. This time, I want to win. Two years in a row, I've lost. I can't lose this one."
Lindor is batting .282 with a .757 OPS in 81 games for the RubberDucks. He's scored 49 runs, ranks fifth in the Eastern League in stolen bases and is tied for ninth with 38 walks. He has already tied a career high with six home runs.
"I still have a lot of room to improve," he said. "I feel good. I'm learning every single day, I'm learning from each at-bat, learning from each mistake that I make on the basepaths, learning from each mistake on defense ... so I'm learning a lot. As a player, that's all you can ask. You can learn from your mistakes and learn from other people's mistakes as well."
Jordan Smith drove in three runs while Tim Fedroff was 2-for-5 with two RBIs for Akron.
Will Roberts improved to 9-9 after giving up two runs on four hits while fanning seven over seven innings.
Clayton Blackburn, the Giants' No. 8 prospect, gave up two runs on four hits and struck out five over five innings, but did not factor into the decision for the Flying Squirrels.