Brock Deatherage started his professional career June 18 with a three-homer game, then set off fireworks by going 5-for-5 on the Fourth of July. So maybe the Tigers' 10th-round pick was due for another milestone moment.His August edition came Sunday afternoon.
Brock Deatherage started his professional career June 18 with a three-homer game, then set off fireworks by going 5-for-5 on the Fourth of July. So maybe the Tigers' 10th-round pick was due for another milestone moment.
His August edition came Sunday afternoon.
Gameday box score
Deatherage went 5-for-5 in the second five-hit game of his professional career as Class A West Michigan fell to Fort Wayne, 5-2, at Parkview Field. He raised his average to .315.
The North Carolina State product said his biggest focus heading into professional debut was consistency at the plate. To be able to keep his offense and defense in the outfield steady, Deatherage flashed his aggressive nature at times. Games like Sunday's give a peek at the potential when he's firing on all cylinders.
"I've been trying to learn how to manage that aggression, but I've got to get my hacks in at the plate, whether it's a good or a bad day," the 22-year-old said. "I'm going to swing at a lot of pitches. The pitcher has to come to me and throw good pitches, so when I find one, I feel like I can take it.
"I would probably need both hands to count the first pitches that I've swung at in these two five-hit games, and I've gotten 15 [stolen] bases. And when I'm in the outfield, I'm going to try and catch everything. I try to use that aggressive style anywhere, and it's helped a lot."
With two outs in the first inning, Deatherage moved Kody Clemens into scoring position with a ground-ball single to left field.Reynaldo Rivera followed with a single to left that scored Clemens to give the Whitecaps an early 1-0 lead.
In the third, the 22-year-old picked up the bunt sign from teammate Colby Bortles, out of the lineup and filling in as first-base coach for West Michigan manager Lance Parrish, who was attending former Tigers teammate Jack Morris' jersey retirement ceremony in Detroit. Deatherage laid one down back to TinCaps starter Luis Patiño and legged out a single to load the bases with Garrett McCain. After the outfielder reached the bag, Bortles did a double-take on his stopwatch. Deatherage had run a 3.56-second split after the bunt.
"I tried to treat it more like a base hit-bunt situation," he said. "He looked at his watch and said 'Is that real or am I just bad with a stopwatch?' I'm pretty quick. I'm blessed with some speed, and when you can put the ball in play and have some speed, a lot can happen."
Patino struck out the next three West Michigan batters to escape the jam.
After poking a single to right in the fifth, Deatherage stepped up in the seventh with Clemens on second. He beat out an infield single off weak contact off the end of the bat toward second baseman Esteury Ruiz, and his speed forced Ruiz to rush the throw. The off-target attempt sailed into the first-base dugout, enabling Clemens to score.
Deatherage said he didn't realize he was one knock away from another five-hit game until he was standing in the outfield in the bottom of the eighth. He tried his best to brush it off and just approach the at-bat as he would any other.
After Clemens popped out quickly in front of him in the ninth, Deatherage said his adrenaline evened out.
"After I first thought about it, I had to stop myself and remind myself, 'You've got to just keep doing what you've been doing all day,'" he said.
The Burlington, North Carolina native caught up with a first-pitch fastball high and tight, smacking a two-out single to center to cap the big afternoon.
Patino (5-3) allowed one run on eight hits and two walks while striking out a career-high nine in five frames.
Nathan Brown is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @NathanBrownNYC.