Austin Wynns has always believed that his primary role as a catcher is to guide his pitchers through the ups and downs of a game. But that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy a breakout offensive night on occasion.
The Orioles' 22nd-ranked prospect homered and tied his career high with four hits on Tuesday as Triple-A Norfolk defeated Charlotte, 9-3, at BB&T Ballpark. He set another best by scoring four runs in his first four-hit game since Aug. 26, 2016 with Double-A Bowie.
Video: Norfolk's Wynns parks his third home run of the year
"It was one of those days where I saw the ball very well," Wynns said. "But it was a great team effort tonight. [Norfolk starter Jimmy Yacabonis] pitched great and our defense did its thing. As a team, we were clicking on all cylinders, but for me, the goal is the pitching staff and helping it run smoothly. I want to call a good game, focus on my defense and my throwing ... that's my job. If I hit, that's great. But my goal is to keep every pitcher in as long as they can."
The 27-year-old kicked off his big night with a single to right field and scored on Adrian Marin's groundout in a six-run second inning. He led off the third with a single that ricocheted off Charlotte starter TJ House (1-6), then came around to score on Marin's two-out single. Wynns began the fifth with a solo homer to left and flied out in the seventh. He completed the fourth four-hit game of his Minor League career with a single to right in the eighth and scored again on a base hit by Ruben Tejada.
Gameday box score
"I wasn't trying to overdo anything," Wynns said of his last at-bat. "I'm a team guy and I want to produce a quality at-bat for the club. We were up five runs at the time, but you never know -- baseball is crazy. It's an awesome but wild sport. You never want to give away at-bats."
Selected in the 10th round of the 2013 Draft, Wynns reached Triple-A for the first time in 2016. He batted .287/.336/.416 with 24 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in 80 games with Norfolk and Bowie. With former top catching prospect Chance Sisco starting every day with the Tides, Wynns was returned to the Eastern League for all of last season. The San Diego native responded by putting up a .281/.377/.419 slash line with a career-high 30 extra-base hits and 46 RBIs in 104 games.
He credits an ability to keep to his routine as often as possible for his success over the last few seasons.
"We're all creatures of habit," Wynns said. "If we get off our routine, it can be an uncomfortable feeling. It happens, but it's important for all players to feel good, and that's what keeping with a routine does for you. You want that comfort level going into the game."
The four-hit game pushed his slash line to .279/.347/.430 in 25 games, but he's focused on doing his job rather than looking too far ahead.
"The thought of the Majors is always around," the Fresno State product said. "It's [all Minor Leaguers'] goal to get up there, and when or if it happens, I'll try and take full advantage. But for now, I'm going to keep grinding away and working as hard as I can."
Mike Yastrzemski hit a two-run homer, his first at Triple-A this season, for Norfolk. Yacabonis (1-1) allowed a run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts in five innings.
Matt Skole went 3-for-3 with a pair of solo homers for Charlotte.