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Thunder's Mustelier stays homer-happy05/04/2012 11:58 PM ET
By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com
In his first exposure to pro ball in the United States last season, Ronnier Mustelier hit three home runs in 36 games. He's slugged more than that in his last four games for Double-A Trenton.
The Yankees farmhand went yard for the fourth straight game Friday, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored in the Thunder's 7-5, 10-inning loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Mustelier, a 27-year-old Cuban defector who signed with the Yankees last July, has kept his batting average above .300 virtually all season. He hit his first Eastern League homer in his fifth game, but it wasn't until Trenton visited Portland on the final day of April that Mustelier went deep again. And he's repeated the feat each of the three games that followed.
"He's a strong kid, he barrels the ball consistently, so it's not a surprise at all," Thunder hitting coach Tom Slater said. "He's been hitting from day one. The last few games are a continuation of what I've seen of him since the first time I saw him.
"I know he has a few home runs the last few games, but he's been swinging the bat very well all season."
Mustelier has hit pretty much everywhere he's gone. With Class A Advanced Tampa last year, he batted .333 with three homers and 24 RBIs in 31 games. He played 16 games in the Arizona Fall League and hit .344 with a pair of homers and six RBIs.
Through 25 games with Trenton, his average sits at .353, which ranks fourth in the league.
"He's a very good-looking player, really swings the bat well," Slater said. "He's hit everything -- fastballs, breaking balls. He has a real good balance at the plate."
The native of Santiago, who spent six seasons in the Cuban Serie Nacional, obviously has a more experienced approach than most hitters at the Double-A level. Slater said that approach has helped Mustelier thrive as he adapts to the U.S. professional game.
"He has a very good plan, a great routine and he doesn't deviate from it," Slater explained. "He's a very mature, very polished hitter.
"He's very intelligent. He watches the game and knows what pitchers are trying to do with him. So he's had a lot of success with it. We saw it in the fall in Arizona and we're continuing to see it here."
With a .412 on-base percentage and .598 slugging percentage, Mustelier also is fourth in the EL with a 1.010 OPS.
Melky Mesa went 2-for-5 with two RBIs for Trenton and Luke Murton connected for a solo homer in the second.
New Hampshire's Mike McDade went 4-for-4 and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th on John Tolisano's single. Clint Everts (2-0) picked up the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.