Bird flying high at plate for RiverDogs

No. 20 Yanks prospect drives in career-high five runs in loss

Greg Bird has 18 RBIs over his last 10 games for Class A Charleston. (Cliff Welch/

By Robert Emrich / Special to | June 26, 2013 8:19 PM ET

Greg Bird has been scorching the ball for the past three weeks. He put an exclamation point on that streak on Wednesday.

The Yankees' No. 20 prospect was 3-for-4 with a homer and a career-high five RBIs as Class A Charleston fell to Greenville, 7-5.

Bird, who fell a triple shy of the cycle, smacked a ground-rule double in the first inning to plate Cito Culver, singled home Jake Cave in the third and launched a three-run homer in the fifth.

"I was just going up trying to get pitches to hit, that's the name of the game," Bird said. "Generally, when you swing at good pitches, you get better results. I was trying to stay within my gameplan and not do too much and it worked out for me. If we got the win, it would have been even better."

Bird, who drove in four runs on Aug. 26, 2012 while with short-season Staten Island, has been on fire at the plate in June. The 20-year-old first baseman is batting .350 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 22 South Atlantic League games. He extended his hitting streak to 10 games Wednesday and has driven in runs in eight of those 10 games, compiling 18 RBIs.

"Early on I put pressure on myself. Understandable, it's really my first full season and I wanted to do well," Bird said. "I started to let it come to me, don't speed it up and stick with my plan go out and execute it. That's all you can do, hit it hard and let it take care of itself."

After being selected in the fifth round by the Yankees in 2011, the Colorado native played four games in the Gulf Coast League following a late signing. Bird battled hand and back injuries in 2012, playing just 28 Minor League gaames between the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League.

"It's been a process," Bird said. "The whole year has been a learning experience and I'm real happy with where I am at the plate right now."

The back injury is what led the Yankees to move Bird from his natural position behind the plate to first base.

"I played a lot of it growing up and throughout high school, I have a feel for it," he said. "I have a lot of room to grow, we're working on it."

Overall, Bird is batting .298 with seven homers and 46 RBIs while ranking fourth in the league with a .419 on-base percentage.

Culver was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base while Cave scored twice out of the leadoff spot for Charleston.

Jose Campos gave up a run on five hits and struck out six over four innings, but did not figure into the decision for the RiverDogs. Brett Gerritse fell to 6-5 after allowing six runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 frames.

Mookie Betts was 4-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs while Jose Vinicio, the No. 18 Red Sox prospect, had three hits and two RBIs as the Drive rallied from a four-run deficit.

Yunior Ortega improved to 2-2 after allowing a hit over three innings of relief for Greenville.

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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