There are hot starts to the season and then there are starts like Jake Cronenworth's .
A night after collecting four singles, the Rays prospect went 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to lead Triple-A Durham to a 6-2 victory over Charlotte on Saturday at BB&T Ballpark.
Gameday box score
The 25-year-old is batting .786 (11-for-14) through three games for the two-time defending Governors' Cup champions. His emphatic start is a stark contrast to how he began the 2018 season. Cronenworth went 1-for-38 to start the year for Double-A Montgomery and didn't get his 11th hit until May 19. However, the left-handed hitter was able to make up for lost time, batting .254/.323/.344 before earning a promotion to Durham near the end of the season.
"I think [the start to] last season actually helped me," Cronenworth said. "It may sound weird to say and a lot of people may not understand, but it prepared me as a hitter."
Cronenworth, a 2015 seventh-round Draft pick, is coming off a solid performance this spring in big league camp, where he batted .279 with a homer, a triple and a .906 OPS. He went 6-for-25 in his seven-game stint with the Bulls last season but has nearly doubled that hit total already.
"I changed my approach a bit from last year," he said. "I'm more spread out. I used to be a lot more tentative at the plate and take a lot of pitches."
Cronenworth started Saturday's game with a one-out single in the first inning off No. 29 White Sox prospect Jordan Stephens before increasing the Bulls' lead to 2-0 with an RBI double in the third. He led off the sixth with another double and finished another big night with a single in the seventh that gave Durham its sixth run.
2019 MiLB include
The University of Michigan product leads all Minor Leaguers with seven runs scored, adding five doubles, two RBIs and two stolen bases in three games. Cronenworth joins Andrew Velazquez as the second Bull to post back-to-back four-hit games this season. Velazquez went 4-for-6 with a homer, double and a career-high five RBIs on Opening Night and collected four more hits on Friday.
Michael Brosseau homered and Rays No. 12 prospect Nick Solak went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored for Durham. Mike Franco earned the win in relief with three scoreless frames, allowing three hits while striking out five.
Twelfth-ranked White Sox prospect Zack Collins smashed a solo shot in the third for his third homer of the season and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth for the Knights. Stephens (0-1) surrendered four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in six innings, while No. 24 prospect Zach Thompson was reached for two runs on three hits in the seventh.