Tyler Heineman is grateful he doesn't catch for another team. If he did, he wouldn't have an answer for the JetHawks offense.
The Astros prospect homered twice and collected a career-high seven RBIs as Class A Advanced Lancaster routed Lake Elsinore, 26-5, on Thursday.
Heineman finished 3-for-4 with a double, two walks and five runs scored. The California native started and ended the JetHawks' eight-run seventh inning, doubling to open the frame and capping it with a three-run homer. He put an end to the club's offensive outburst the following inning with a grand slam, giving him his third two-homer game of the season.
"Our team puts up so many freakin' runs and we have so many great hitters on our team that it allowed me to hit three times in two innings," Heineman said. "The bases were loaded and I was looking for a pitch I could hit hard. I hit it a little out in front and it just happened to go out. It was a real blessing that I was able to get some runners on base, our team did an unbelievable job getting on base, and I'm just happy that I was able to capitalize."
The outburst is nothing new for the JetHawks, who lead the California League with 786 runs scored. The next closest team, the High Desert Mavericks, trails by 157 runs. The 21-year-old catcher found it difficult to describe just how good the offense is.
"This is unbelivable," the 2012 New York-Penn League batting champ said. "It's scary. Being a catcher and calling games against opposing hitters and seeing how to pitch hitters, I think about how to pitch our team and I really have no idea. There's not one person in our lineup where the opposing team can relax a little bit."
An eighth-round pick in the 2012 Draft, Heineman is enjoying his first full season in the Minor Leagues, especially with the numbers that the club is racking up. Not surprisingly the club was the first-half champion in the South Division and currently has the best record in the second half. Despite that, the UCLA product was quick to note the difficulties in staying tough mentally.
"It's fun and it's also a grind because you don't want to waste any at-bats," Heineman said. "It does take a little bit of pressure off you when the whole team is hitting well and getting on base and you can just relax. You gotta keep mentally strong. When it's a long game like that, every opportunity you get, you try to make the most of it."
Nolan Fontana, the Astros' No. 9 prospect, drew five walks and scored twice while MP Cokinos homered and drove in four runs for Lancaster, which notched a season high in runs scored.
Brady Rogers was the beneficiary of the outburst, earning his ninth win after allowing three runs on five hits and striking out seven over seven innings.