Wander Javier's first full season playing pro ball in the U.S. has been a bumpy one, but you wouldn't guess that after seeing his performance on Friday.
The Twins' No. 7 prospect tied his career high with four hits, doubling twice and driving in a run in Class A Cedar Rapids' 4-0 win over Wisconsin at Fox Cities Stadium. He's matched that mark twice before, most recently on July 15 against Lansing.
Video: Kernels' Javier's fourth hit
Javier's struggles are well-documented, so Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman was happy to see him have a productive night.
"It was a good performance," he said. "He hit some balls hard and actually got a couple doubles off the wall. So, it was good to see him have good at-bats and make some solid contact."
Don't think he was surprised to see it, though.
"He had a four-hit game earlier this year," Dinkelman said, "so we know it's in there."
The 20-year-old singled to center field on the first pitch he saw from southpaw Ethan Small before coming around to score on a double by 19th-ranked Yunior Severino as part of a three-run opening inning. Starting the game with a spark like that helped Javier get into a groove right away, according to Dinkelman.
Gameday box score
"Whenever you can start your night off with a hit or good at-bat, it kind of carries momentum into your next couple at-bats," he said. "Yeah, he took that first one, it went off the wall and it carried into his next couple."
He smacked a double to left off Small to open the third, but the Kernels' momentum stalled. He supplied Cedar Rapids with its only other run in the fifth, when he singled up the middle with two men on to knock in third-round pick Spencer Steer. Javier capped his night with a double to deep left in the seventh, completing his seventh multi-hit game of the season.
The key to Javier's night was his execution at the plate, something that hasn't been consistently sharp.
"He's had his ups and downs this year a little bit," Dinkelman said. "His timing was a little bit better tonight, he was able to be on time to a couple fastballs."
He raised his line to .178/.285/.328 to go along with 33 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 64 games. He hit .301 over his first two professional campaigns, but missed the 2018 season with a shoulder injury. This performance will help Javier get back on track, Dinkelman said, and moving toward that early level of success.
2019 MiLB include
"Last couple games have been a lot better for him, so I think the confidence is starting to come back up a little bit," the manager said. "Hopefully, he can carry that these last two weeks [or so]."
Twins No. 13 prospect Matt Canterino (1-0) earned his first professional win, allowing one hit over five innings while striking out five in his third start with Cedar Rapids. The second-round pick in this year's Draft has a 1.20 ERA through five outings and has struck out 19 over 15 frames.
"It was his best [game yet]," Dinkelman said. "He was much better throwing strikes with his fastball, using his changeup and breaking balls. First couple outings he was a little wild."