Cougars' Thomas follows big night with cycle

D-backs No. 7 prospect completes feat a night after going 5-for-6

Alek Thomas has recorded three games this season with four hits or more in the Midwest League. (Justin Edwards)

By Andrew Battifarano / | July 4, 2019 12:44 AM

During Class A Kane County's last series against Cedar Rapids, Alek Thomas found himself mired in a 2-for-12 funk, which prompted texts from his father Allen, the director of conditioning for the White Sox, and his mother, Marcella. 

"He [had] seen what I was doing wrong when he watched the game from his computer," Thomas said. "He also fired me up a little bit as well, and then I get a text from my mom saying, 'We get on you because we love,' and they want me to be the best person I can be. So they definitely got me going."

A night after collecting the first five-hit game of his career, the seventh-ranked Arizona prospect finished 4-for-4 for his first professional cycle as the Cougars topped Peoria, 5-4, on Wednesday night at Dozer Park. Thomas became the first member of the Cougars to complete the feat since Cael Brockmeyer cycled on June 29, 2014. The outfielder also drew an intentional walk, reaching base five times for the second game in a row.

Video: Kane County's Thomas doubles for the cycle

"These past two days I've done early work in the cage to tweak a few things and try to stay through the ball and I'm glad to see it translate over into the game," he said. "I didn't think it would translate that well, but I'm certainly glad it did."

In the past few days, Thomas has strived to go back to the fundamentals, which means getting his hand positioning on the bat in a better spot to do damage. The result has been nine hits over the course of two games.

He's raised his overall average to a season-high .312. In a three-game sample in July, the left-handed swinger batted .714 with five extra-base hits.

Gameday box score

"I was letting my top hand roll over, so I really worked on one-hand drills with hitting coach Micah Franklin," Thomas said. "I've done those drills in the past. I guess with the long season and all, I didn't do my basic drills that I had done in the past. So just going back to the basics of what I normally do really helped me out the past two days, and hopefully [will] the rest of the season."

During his 5-for-6 showing Tuesday, the 19-year-old struck out swinging in the ninth, needing a homer to finish off the feat.

With another chance Wednesday, he did not miss out. Thomas got started in the first inning with a single to center field off right-hander Franyel Casadilla. Two frames later, the 2018 second-round pick pulled the sixth pitch of his at-bat into right and legged out an RBI triple. 

Thomas got the home run out of the way in the fifth by blasting a 3-1 pitch over the right-field wall for a solo shot -- his eighth of the season. 

2019 Minor League milestones

Leading off the eighth against righty Parker Kelly, the Chicago native took the second pitch and ripped it into the gap in right-center, hustling into second for a double. It completed the Midwest League's fourth cycle of the season. For a fleeting moment, he forgot about the chance at history.

"I was definitely shooting for the double," he said, "but once I stepped in the box I forgot about it. When I hit it, I remembered I needed a double, and it was in the gap, so I knew I could for sure get a double and it happened."

Thomas came to the plate in the ninth, but he was intentionally walked by lefty Eli Kraus. Although he didn't have much of a chance at another five-hit night, the cycle and a victory proved enough to satisfy Thomas. 

"It was awesome," he said. "And to top it off we came back and won the game, so it was a great time in the clubhouse for sure."

A hot start to the month has also helped Thomas put things into perspective, in a way. 

2019 MiLB include

"I mean, I set goals and all that for the season, but ultimately I'm just trying to get better every day and sometimes I get caught lacking, but I just gotta remind myself that there's multiple steps into getting to where I want to be," he said. "So I have to be willing to put in the work so I get to where I want to be, which is the Major Leagues and stay there. The rest of the season I just want to continue doing what I'm doing and control what I can control and be a good teammate."

The Cougars trailed going into the ninth, but rallied for two runs. No. 23 D-backs prospect Eduardo Diaz tied the game with an RBI triple and Jose Herrera plated the go-ahead run on a groundout.

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

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