Arce homers twice, knocks in seven

Blue Jays prospect hits grand slam, three-run shot for Bluefield

By David Heck / Special to | July 16, 2012 10:09 PM ET

Eric Arce had been in a bit of a funk through his first 19 games for Rookie-level Bluefield this year. Funny how quickly things can change.

Playing in the second game of a doubleheader Monday, the Toronto prospect smacked a grand slam in the first inning and followed with a three-run shot in the second to help the Blue Jays to a 14-7 win over the Elizabethton Twins.

The multi-homer performance was the second of Arce's career -- he hit a pair of solo shots for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays on July 27, 2011. His seven RBIs easily bested his previous high of four, which he had achieved twice.

"My goal today at the plate was to keep my head on the ball, try to attack the fastball and be patient at at the plate," Arce said. "I took the pitches that they gave me and capitalized."

After the Blue Jays strung together a single and two walks in the first, Arce stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. When he got his pitch from Twins starter Ricardo Arevalo, he didn't miss it.

"I fouled off the first two pitches in the at-bat," Arce said. "Both were fastballs low and in. I knew that if I just hit this ball hard, I'm going to give my team a chance to win this ballgame. He gave me a fastball inside, I put a good swing on it and hit it out to right field."

Arce got another two-out opportunity in the second, with runners on first and second. Facing southpaw reliever Luis Nunez this time, the 20-year-old outfielder again fouled away pitches until he got one he could handle.

"I fouled off two pitches from a left-hander," said Arce, who bats left-handed. "Lefties tend to throw away, so I was looking to hit it up the middle or to the opposite field. He gave me a fastball outside and I hit it over the center-field wall.

"With both home runs, I wasn't trying to hit it out. I was just trying to put a productive swing on it."

While Arce wasn't looking to go deep early on, his mindset changed after the first two at-bats. He ended up drawing a walk and striking out in his final two at-bats.

"My third at-bat, I was [trying to hit a home run], but I knew that I wasn't going to get anything to hit," Arce said. "So I actually became even more selective and was looking for anything in the zone that I could hit. I ended up getting a walk out of it."

A 25th-round pick in 2011, Arce batted .268 with 114 homers in 49 GCL games last year. He had been hitting .203 with one homer and eight RBIs in 19 games this season, but his effort Monday increased his average to .226 while tripling his home run total and nearly doubling his RBI count.

The game also boosted his OPS from .690 all the way to .823. "Tonight was fun," Arce said. "I enjoyed what I did to help my team out, but what I can do now is erase what happened today and get ready for the next one tomorrow. We have a big series against Princeton and I've got to stay focused for that. I'm glad our team got the 'W,' but it's in the past now."

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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