Lookouts' Rooker continues torrid stretch

Twins No. 8 prospect matches career high with four-hit game

Brent Rooker is hitting .483/.529/.897 with nine RBIs in seven games in June. (Brian McLeod/MiLB.com)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | June 7, 2018 11:54 PM

Over the last week, Brent Rooker has been one of the most potent hitters in the Southern League. He stayed in the groove on Thursday night. 

The eighth-ranked Twins prospect matched a career high with four hits, including his fourth triple of the season, driving in one run and scoring another in Double-A Chattanooga's 9-7 loss to Mobile at AT&T Field. 

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"I felt good tonight. It's been getting into a little groove, into a little more routine," Rooker said. "Baseball's a funny game. The more confidence you get, the better you're going to perform. To collect a few hits, build some confidence and being comfortable in the box has helped."

Rooker ended May in an 0-for-12 funk but has quickly turned things around with five multi-hit efforts in June, going 14-for-29 with seven extra-base hits in seven contests. The 35th overall pick in the 2017 Draft has a season-best .271 average with a .792 OPS. 

Following a month in which he hit .231 in 104 at-bats, Rooker hasn't made any tweaks to his swing or approach. The key has been finding a consistency in what had worked previously before this season. He feels things are falling into place in June. 

"I trusted myself and trusted my ability to hit and trusted my approach that allowed me to have success up until this point to get me here," he said. "I just kind of stayed with the same thing and trusted what I've done and always been doing. Eventually, those results are going to start to show up when you trust yourself and stick to your process in your approach."

Noted for his 60-grade power and 50 hit tool, Rooker said it was a matter of time before his offense played at Double-A. He smacked 18 homers and drove in 52 runs in 62 games between Rookie-level Elizabethton and Class A Advanced Fort Myers last year. Through 56 games in the Southern League, the first baseman has eight homers among 25 extra-base hits and a .475 slugging percentage. 

"Every level you move up there's going to be an adjustment period, getting comfortable again, settling back in, getting into a new routine against new competition and a new caliber of competition," Rooker said. "That adjustment period might have been a little longer than I liked, ideally. But I knew it was going to happen if I trusted myself, and the results would show up."

Batting in the second spot, Rooker smacked a 1-2 offering from Angels No. 7 prospect Griffin Canning into left field for a single in the opening inning. The Mississippi State product lined another base hit off Canning in third, this time back up the middle. 

Rooker broke through against the BayBears starter again in the fifth, driving a single through the left side to plate Sean Miller from second. Three batters later, he scored on Chris Paul's two-run double. 

Rooker admitted when he faced Canning in college, the pitcher won the battle. This time, it was the corner infielder getting a small dose of revenge. 

"I faced Griffin in college in my sophomore year at Mississippi State," he said. "He punched me out three times that season -- we played them at UCLA. Obviously, I knew going into the game he's a really good arm with really good stuff and he's had a lot of success this season. It was just trusting myself and not trying to do too much him, against a guy with three pretty good pitches. You can't try to do too much. You've gotta stay short, stay simple and take what he gives you. He made some good pitches to get into two-strike counts, but I was able to fight a couple of fastball off and find some holes." 

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Following a strikeout in the seventh, Rooker closed his night by ripping a ball into left field and legging out a triple. It marked the 23-year-old's second four-hit game in 11 days, as he collected four knocks against Montgomery on May 26. Rooker has 14 multi-hit games this season and five with three hits or more. 

Now that he's a little more settled in at the plate, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder hopes he can establish sustained success for the rest of the season. 

"To me, it's still doing the same thing," he said. "It's trusting knowing that it's a long season -- we have like 80 more games left. Sometimes through those games I'll face another little slump, another little down period. But if I continue trusting myself when the times are good, trusting my approach when the times are bad, it's all going to level out and I'm going to have the year I want to."

For the BayBears, Angels No. 28 prospect Luis Rengifo slugged his first Double-A homer and finished 2-for-2 with four runs scored, while Zach Houchins went deep and collected three hits and four RBIs.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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