In 2016, Josh VanMeter clubbed 14 homers, which stood as his career high entering this season. One month into the campaign, the Reds prospect is on the brink of breaking that personal best.
VanMeter clubbed his 12th and 13th homers of the season, reaching base four times and driving in three runs, as Triple-A Louisville fell to Indinapolis, 7-5, on Friday night at Victory Field.
Leading off the game for the Bats, the 24-year-old drew an eight-pitch walk against starter Alex McRae and stole second base, although his teammates could not drive him home.
Video: Bats' VanMeter clubs second homer
With two outs in the third, VanMeter cracked a solo shot to right field on a 2-1 offering from the right-hander. Two innings later, the 2013 fifth-round pick loaded the bases with an infield single up the middle.
VanMeter caught the dinger bug again with a two-run blast in the seventh, taking Clay Holmes deep to right for his 13th roundtripper of the season. The homer tied the Indiana native atop the Minor League leaderboard with Rangers No. 21 prospect Sam Huff of Class A Hickory. He struck out after a nine-pitch battle in the ninth.
Gameday box score
Just one off his career high, VanMeter has four multi-homer efforts through 29 games. Three of them have come in the last week. The Louisville record for multi-homer games in a season is four (Brandon Cromer, 1999; Mike Hessman, 2013), so he'll have more than ample time to climb to the top of that list.
The left-handed hitter was a .266 hitter across six Minor League seasons heading into 2019. But through the first four weeks, VanMeter is batting .346/.432/.757. He leads all Triple-A hitters in homers and tops the International League in slugging along with RBIs (31) and OPS (1.189). It's a marked improvement for VanMeter, who clubbed 11 long balls and drove in 45 runs for the Bats while hitting .253 in 98 games last year.
VanMeter went yard twice on a five-hit night against Norfolk on April 26. Three days later, he clubbed three homers and drove in eight runs at Toledo. The infielder entered Friday's contest in an 0-for-11 funk but left that behind with another loud night.
"To sit here and think about that, that's really crazy," VanMeter told MiLB.com after that three-homer performance. "People have been asking me, 'What's the big change? What is it this year? Have you put on a lot of muscle?'
"I'm kind of at a loss for words, as are other people. How does a guy go from hitting 12 home runs to 11 in 3 1/2 weeks? That's a good question. I don't think I have the answer, either."
2019 MiLB include
Pirates No. 6 prospect Kevin Kramer helped Indianapolis establish an early lead by drilling a grand slam to right-center in the first off eighth-ranked Reds prospect Vladimir Gutierrez. The 25-year-old doubled off the right-hander in the third and drew a walk two innings later. Kramer tacked on an insurance run with a single to left in the seventh.
The UCLA product and 2015 second-round pick had a successful 2018 with Indianapolis, hitting .311 with 15 homers, 59 RBIs and an .856 OPS. The Pirates called him up for 21 games this season and he went 5-for-37 with 20 strikeouts.
Second-ranked Bucs prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.