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Brantly hits new career heights at plate04/15/2014 1:17 AM ET
By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com
All that was on Rob Brantly's mind was going deep, and that worked just fine Monday night.
It wasn't the long ball on the backstop's mind, but rather letting opponent's pitches get deeper into the strike zone before making contact. With his weight back and the pitch in his hitting zone, the 24-year-old felt like he could do some damage.
Brantly implemented the strategy perfectly Monday, setting career highs with five hits and five RBIs for Triple-A New Orleans in a 14-8 win over Oklahoma City in Pacific Coast League action.
The Marlins farmhand finished 5-for-5 with two doubles and a pair of runs scored, raising his average by more than 50 percent to .314.
"I'm working on trying to keep the bat through the zone as long as I can," he said. "A big part of that is letting the ball travel. It's a matter of getting that contact point down to where I want."
The UC Riverside product picked up his first two-bagger in the first inning, plating a pair of runs as the Zephyrs jumped to a 4-0 advantage. He doubled in another run in the third and singled in two more runners in the fifh, later scoring on Mark Canha's triple. He capped the night with singles in the seventh and the ninth.
"It was just a matter of seeing the ball deep into the zone, getting a chance to see if it's a good pitch," Brantly said. "Once you feel it, it's just a matter of keeping that contact point. I was able to do that consistently tonight."
The backstop was acquired by Miami from Detroit in July 2012 when the team flipped Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for Brantly, Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn. All three of the acquired players saw time in the Majors in 2013, with Brantly appearing in 67 contests.
The 2010 third-round pick struggled, hitting .211 with a .528 OPS and leading the National League in passed balls with nine. He returned to Triple-A in 2014 to improve upon a number of aspects of his game, especially defensively.
"There are things I need to work on as far as game-calling and the mental part of being back there behind the plate, helping the pitchers through games," he said. "A big part of being a catcher is communicating with pitchers as much as I can.
"I'm learning from them and they're learning from me. It's one of those things where the more experience you get, the better you're going to get at it and the better you'll be at communicating."
While the defensive reps are Brantly's primary focus with New Orleans, he's still working to make consistent solid contact at the plate, as he did Monday night.
"It's just a matter of making sure you get the right pitch you want to swing at and putting your best swing on it," he said. "You have to constantly practice and reinforce that."
Houston's No. 3 prospect George Springer hit his second homer of the season. The center fielder is batting .319 with seven extra-base hits and four steals through 12 games.