Nova perfect at the plate for River Bandits

Astros No. 3 prospect goes 4-for-4 with walk, two runs scored

Freudis Nova raised his batting average to .262 in 66 games in his first full Minor League season. (Josh Franzen/Quad Cities River Bandits)

By Rob Terranova / | August 21, 2019 12:30 AM

Every time Freudis Nova stepped to the plate Tuesday, the leadoff man found a way to reach base and set the table for the rest of the Class A Quad Cities lineup.

The third-ranked Astros prospect went 4-for-4 with a double, a walk and scored twice as the River Bandits bested Cedar Rapids, 9-3, at Modern Woodmen Park.

Video: Nova notches fourth hit for Quad Cities

"When he gets going, our whole team gets going," Quad Cities hitting coach Rafael Pena said. "He gets on base and guys are trying to get hits to bring him in, and the other pitcher is worried about him stealing so our other guys are getting more pitches to hit. It just makes things harder for the pitchers whenever he's on.

"When he's doing good, everybody else seems to be doing good. He's like a motor for the team."

The first seven batters in the River Bandits lineup recorded at least one hit and accounted for eight of their nine runs. Of Nova's five plate appearances on Tuesday, he led off an inning four times.

"He was making really great decisions tonight on breaking balls and laying off off-speed stuff around the zone," Pena said. "He has all the tools, all the talent, but he's one of the youngest guys on this team and he's learning how to be a complete hitter right now. He's got the bat speed and the hand-to-eye, but he's maturing with his decision-making -- just swinging at good pitches to hit. And the more he plays, the better he gets."

Nova worked a nine-pitch walk against left-hander Kody Funderburk in the opening frame. He moved to second on a walk by 13th-ranked prospect Grae Kessinger but was stranded in scoring position.

Gameday box score

The 19-year-old led off the third and, after swinging through a couple of pitches, turned on an off-speed offering and lined it into center field. Wilyer Abreu followed with a double and Alex McKenna plated Nova with a sacrifice fly to deep left.

Nova got the best of Funderburk in the fourth with a two-out base hit to center. He led off the sixth against southpaw J.T. Perez and punched a ground ball through the right side of the infield, scoring again five batters later when Austin Dennis laced a three-run double to right.

The native of the Dominican Republic led off again in the eighth against righty Jose Martinez. After taking a breaking ball for a strike, Nova turned on a high fastball and hammered it down the line in left for a double.

"Whenever he goes out there and makes good swing decisions it's hard for the other team to get him out," Pena said. "We see Cedar Rapids a lot and they don't really give him a lot of fastballs. I would say 75 percent of the pitches he sees against them are breaking balls. But in that last at-bat, they tried to sneak a fastball by him and he just turned on it. He crushed that ball. I think it left the bat at over 100 mph."

The 19-year-old shortstop also recorded a four-hit game against Wisconsin on June 14. He has a .262/.298/.381 slash line with a .679 OPS and 23 extra-base hits, 33 runs scored and 28 RBIs in 66 games with Quad Cities. His effort on Tuesday ended a 1-for-17 funk that spanned five games.

2019 MiLB include

"That wasn't really anything we worried about. It was one of those tough luck things," Pena said. "He hit the ball hard but right at somebody or bad calls that put him in a bad count and you start swinging at bad pitches. The 1-for-17 sounds much worse than it actually was. He never really pressed at any point. We knew what he could do and what he was doing, and with his ability we knew he was going to hit."

Dennis plated four runs and scored once, Abreu contributed a pair of hits and two runs scored, while Zach Biermann doubled, singled, drove in a pair of runs and scored for the River Bandits, who totaled 13 hits.

Matt Ruppenthal (5-6) worked around three hits and two walks over seven frames, punching out five in his second straight scoreless outing.

Jared Akins launched a two-run blast in the ninth for the Kernels.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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