Ryan O'Hearn puts a lot of weight on his shoulders, batting cleanup for Class A Advanced Wilmington. On Saturday night, he eased his burden a little.
The Royals' No. 14 prospect homered twice and collected a career-high six RBIs as the Blue Rocks outslugged Potomac, 13-10, at Pfitzner Stadium.
After flying out in the first inning, O'Hearn reached in his next four at-bats. He singled in the third and slugged a two-run homer in the fifth.
The 22-year-old first baseman provided another long ball an inning later, highlighting a seven-run outburst with a three-run blast. He capped his career night with an RBI single in the seventh.
"Just hunting fastballs," O'Hearn said. "I think that's the big thing, swinging at pitches in the zone and not chasing. That's the big problem I've been having, swinging at pitches out of the zone."
The 2014 eighth-round pick was mired in an 8-for-37 slump but eclipsed his previous career high of five RBIs, set on Aug. 21, 2014 for Rookie-level Idaho Falls and matched on June 28 with Class A Lexington.
"I'm really happy with the performance," O'Hearn said. "That's something I needed to do, batting fourth in the lineup. We needed it tonight."
The Sam Houston State product got off to strong start in his first full Minor League, slugging 19 homers in 81 South Atlantic League games. But he's struggled to get going in the Carolina League, posting a .635 OPS entering play on Tuesday.
"I think the pitchers have more control over their off-speed stuff [in the Carolina League]," O'Hearn said. "When your average is low, they're not going to give you fastballs. Other thing is, it's not like the ball flies here. You gotta hit it on a line.
"It's always going to be frustrating, but at the same time, you have to realize the jump. Once you start to get into sync with what's going on, hopefully you can keep it going."
The Blue Rocks totaled 15 hits, with Jack Lopez going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and falling a triple short of the cycle. The 22-year-old infielder led off the game with his sixth homer of the season.
"Jackie played a great game," O'Hearn said. "He's been swinging it good."
Luis Rico (6-8) got the win after giving up two runs on four hits with two strikeouts in four innings out of the Wilmington bullpen. Andrew Edwards yielded two hits over 2 2/3 scoreless frames for his second save.
Grant DeBruin drove in three runs and was a homer shy of the cycle for the Nationals.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.