SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Gabriel Arias became the first Fort Wayne player to hit for the cycle in more than 25 years as the TinCaps pulverized the South Bend Cubs (Chicago Cubs), 15-5, on Monday night at Four Winds Field. With six games remaining in the regular season, Fort Wayne leads West Michigan by one game for the Midwest League Eastern Division's second half wild card.
Arias, an 18-year-old shortstop from Venezuela, tripled, standing up in a red-colored TinCaps jersey with gray pants, to right-center field on an 0-1 pitch with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. For the 6-1, 200-pound right-handed batter, it capped of a 5-for-6 performance. He said he wasn't even thinking about the cycle before his final at-bat until one of his coaches, Felipe Blanco , pointed it out to him from the dugout.
Arias, who MLB.com rates as a top 20 San Diego Padres prospect, lost his grandfather, Pedro Arias, earlier this season. Gabriel said he was thinking of his grandfather as he made the turn to third. On his phone, he messaged with his family back in Venezuela following the game. Afterward Arias thanked his coaches, like hitting coach Jonathan Mathews, for their support over the course of his young pro career.
Monday night's feat was the continuation of a hot stretch that began on July 19. Over his last 35 games, Arias has the third highest OPS among players in the Midwest League (the highest in the Eastern Division). During this ride, he's slashing .305/.386/.555 with 13 doubles, two triples, five home runs, and 23 RBIs. Arias had a 21-game on-base streak from July 19-Aug. 12 and another 10-game on-base streak from Aug. 16-25. This has come after he slashed just .215/.273/.275 over his first 83 games with only one triple and one home run. All the while, though, he has played shortstop at an elite level and been recognized by MWL managers as having the "strongest infield arm" in the circuit according to a Baseball America survey.
Arias' first hit of the game gave the TinCaps a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as he singled up the middle to drive home center fielder Jeisson Rosario .
'Caps right fielder Jack Suwinski and Rosario then hit back-to-back doubles with two outs in the third to increase their lead to 3-0.
Though the Cubs (28-36, 62-71) plated a pair of unearned runs in the third, Arias helped the TinCaps (30-33, 62-70) rebuild their lead in the fourth. After third baseman Owen Miller hit an RBI double, Fort Wayne's cleanup hitter belted a two-run homer to left-center field that made it 6-2.
The TinCaps then erupted for a six-run sixth inning that included a Miller RBI single followed by an Arias run-scoring double. The sixth also featured a sacrifice fly by first baseman Jalen Washington and a three-run homer for catcher Michael Cantu that cleared the wall in center field, putting an exclamation point on a 13-2 lead at that point.
Miller, for his part, was 4-for-6 with 4 RBIs. He added an RBI double in the seventh. Miller, by the way, had hit for the cycle this past spring at Illinois State.
Even the one out Arias made in the seventh was productive, plating Rosario from third base to balloon the advantage to 15-2.
The Cubs scored three runs with two outs in the eighth to trim the gap.
Fort Wayne out-hit South Bend as a team, 18-8.
Arias wound up overshadowing an impressive performance from one of the team's other 18 year olds in starting pitcher Ryan Weathers . The seventh overall pick in June's draft, in his second start with the team, went 2 2/3 innings as he threw 48 pitches (working on a 50-pitch limit). The left-hander struck out five of the first seven batters he faced. (The TinCaps have had six players 18 or younger this season.)
The last Fort Wayne player, and only other one, to hit for the cycle was Rene Lopez on May 27, 1993, against Beloit at now-defunct Memorial Stadium in Fort Wayne. That was the inaugural season for the franchise, then known as the Fort Wayne Wizards.
Wednesday, Aug. 27 vs. Lake County (7:05 p.m.)
- TinCaps Probable Starter: LHP Tom Cosgrove
- Captains Probable Starter: RHP Gregori Vasquez
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.