Just 39 games into his professional career, Burle Dixon has found a place in Rookie Advanced Burlington history.
The 20-year-old tripled in the eighth inning to complete the cycle as the Royals rolled to a 14-4 victory over Johnson City on Thursday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium. Dixon finished the night 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs.
Gameday box score
Dixon went hitless in the three previous games coming into the night, but made some noise immediately out of the eighth spot in the Royals order. With two outs and nobody on in the second, the 2019 18th-round pick worked a 2-2 count off Jose Moreno before smashing his third home run over the fence in right-center field.
The solo shot served as the sparkplug for the rest of Dixon's outing.
"Hitting a home run in your first at-bat definitely gives you some confidence for the rest of the game," he said. "I was staying quick to the ball, the pitcher hung a slider and I put a good swing to it."
One frame later, Dixon helped extend a seven-run inning. With one out, he lined his sixth two-bagger on the year to left off the right-hander to plate David Hollie from second. Dixon advanced to third and scored after a pair of walks to give Burlington an 8-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Consumnes River Junior College (California) product singled to left against righty Wilberto Rivera. After striking out in the sixth, Dixon led off the bottom of the eighth. He worked a 1-1 count off Blake Drake before pouncing on the righty's third pitch -- a fastball left up in the zone. Dixon roped the ball to right and raced to third to wrap up the milestone.
2019 Minor League milestones
"I went up there looking for a pitch to hit," he said. "Once I hit it and saw it, I knew I was getting to third no matter what. I just put my head down -- I had no good running form. I just wanted to get to third base.
"I hit third and I saw my teammates standing up and clapping for me. I was just smiling. I didn't know what to do."
Dixon has slowly but surely adjusted to the Appalachian League. After a slow start, the Sacramento, California, native raised his average nearly 30 points and is batting .217 after going 13-for-38 in his last 10 games.
"My at-bats have gotten better, I've been putting more balls into play and cutting my strikeouts down," he said. "I'm starting to get more confidence at the plate and take it day by day.
2019 MiLB include
"After a night like this, it shows me that the work I've been putting in is paying off. But I can't let up. I have to come back tomorrow like this never happened and keep putting in the work. ... I knew I might have a tough time coming from junior college and not facing competition like this or playing every day. My expectation is to stay healthy, learn as much as I can and play as hard as I can every night."
Dixon's cycle marked the first four-hit game of his career.
Vinnie Pasquantino ripped a three-run homer on a three-hit night while Kevon Jackson went 3-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI in the victory.
Liam Sabino, Kyle Skeels and Kevin Vargas drove in runs for Johnson City.