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Red-hot Munoz makes history for Bristol

Pirates prospect records first Appy League three-homer game since '11
July 25, 2015

By expending less effort, Carlos Munoz maximized his output.

The Pirates prospect continued his tear by slugging three homers and driving in five runs Saturday night as Rookie-level Bristol topped Pulaski, 12-5, at Calfee Park.

Munoz got his historic night off to a quick start, slugging a solo shot with two outs in the first inning. His second homer was a carbon copy of the first as he went yard with two outs and no one on base in the third, also to right-center field.

After drawing a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, the 21-year-old first baseman launched a two-run blast over the right field wall in the sixth to finish off the 10th three-homer game in the Minor Leagues this season.

"Main thing is, I thought he was controlling his effort level," Bristol hitting coach Austin McClune said. "Stay under control, having trust in his hands and being ready to hit the fastball. In the past, he's had a tendency to see a fastball to hit and overswing at it, like a 110 percent effort. I just talked to him about 80 percent effort on the swing and just make good contact.

Of the final homer, McClune said, "I saw they tried to attack him with fastballs in. The first pitch was a breaking ball and then they tried to go fastball in. I believe there was a hanging breaking ball that they tried to go down and in and the guy [reliever David Sosebee] left it up, and [Munoz] made him pay."

It's the first three-homer game in the Appalachian League since William Beckwith had one for Danville on Aug. 14, 2011.

A native of Mexico, Munoz has been on an absolute tear. He's 21-for-40 (.525) during an eight-game hitting streak with five homers and 14 RBIs.

"He's hunting fastballs and he's not trying to do too much, keeping it real simple," McClune said. "He's a very smart kid, he'll take whatever plan you give him, he'll take it into the game and try to execute it to the best of his ability."

Munoz leads the league with a .396 batting average and 1.158 OPS. He ranks second with 19 RBIs and 69 total bases and is tied for fifth with 15 walks.

McClune said he feels Munoz's experience in the Mexican Pacific League has made him a better player.

"He plays winter ball over there in Mexico, he gets some at-bats against good pitchers -- that league is notorious for breaking balls and off-speed pitches," McClune said. "One thing Munoz does that separates him from other hitters in this league is the ability to lay off pitches. He rarely swings at a bad pitch. That's what sets him in good counts to be able to whack those fastballs."

Erik Lunde slugged a grand slam and Logan Ratledge reached base three times and scored twice for the Pirates.

Scooter Hightower (2-1) picked up the win in relief, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in five innings.

Allen Valerio slugged a two-run homer for the Yankees.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.