Aces' Gregorius finding his groove

D-backs prospect homers again in another three-hit game

Didi Gregorius has nine hits in his first five games for Triple-A Reno. (Reno Aces)

By Robert Emrich / Special to | April 13, 2013 10:25 PM ET

When you hear the phrase "trying to make contact," you think of a punch-and-judy hitter just trying to get the ball through the infield. Early this season, punch-and-judy would be the least likely way to describe Didi Gregorius.

The D-backs' No. 3 prospect went 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored Saturday night as the Triple-A Reno Aces dropped a 15-11 decision to the visiting Sacramento River Cats.

Gregorius, who fell a triple shy of the cycle, singled in the third inning, doubled and scored on Mark Teahen's double in the seventh and led off the eighth with his second homer of the season off veteran reliever Hideki Okajima.

"I was just trying to make contact in all my at-bats, trying to put the ball in play, and that's all I did," Gregorius said."

"{The homer] was the first pitch. Manager [Brett Butler] told me if I wanted to hit, go ahead and swing at it. At first, I thought it was going to be a normal line drive and it ended up going out over the wall."

It was the second straight three-hit game for the 23-year-old shortstop, who smacked his first Pacific Coast League homer on Friday. He's hitting .409 this season, with four of his nine hits going for extra bases.

"I'm more focusing on staying in there, getting ahead and making good contact. As long as you make good contact, the hits will fall through," Gregorius said.

Gregorius, whose father and brother both played in the Hoofdklasse Honkbal League in the Netherlands, is in his first season in the Arizona organization. He came over last December in the three-team trade that sent Trevor Bauer to the Indians and Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds.

Gregorius again served as the Aces' designated hitter as he comes back from a slight strain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He joined Reno on Tuesday after missing five days and is looking forward to playing shortstop soon.

"It's feeling way better," Gregorius said of his elbow. "I should be getting back on the field soon. I'm getting there."

Chris Owings, Arizona's No. 6 prospect, also collected three hits and scored twice, while Tuffy Gosewisch drove in three runs.

D-backs top prospect Tyler Skaggs (1-1) struggled in his second start for the Aces, surrendering nine runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings. It was his shortest outing in the Minors since pitching two innings for Double-A Mobile on May 2, 2012.

Veteran first baseman Daric Barton drove in four runs and Scott Moore went 4-for-5 with three runs scored for the River Cats.

Sonny Gray (1-0), the A's No. 6 prospect, recorded his first Triple-A win, despite giving up four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits over five frames.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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