A lifetime around baseball walking in the footsteps of his father, former big leaguer Kirk Gibson -- from Michigan State to being drafted by the same organization 37 years later -- culminated in a career night for Cam Gibson on Saturday.
The Tigers prospect recorded his first two-homer game and drove in a career-high five runs to power Class A West Michigan to a 10-5 victory over Burlington at Community Field. Gibson also singled and raised his batting average to .274, a 53-point increase from his first Midwest League stint a year ago.
Gameday box score
"I wouldn't say I'm getting comfortable with the league, I would say more comfortable in general," Gibson said. "My approach at the plate, recognizing pitches, knowing what pitch is coming and then executing the right swing. I'm trying to do less than I did last year, where I would try too hard and not let the game come to me."
The 23-year-old's three-run homer in the third inning was the Whitecaps' first hit off Bees starter Sam Pastrone. Austin Athmann led off with a four-pitch walk and Danny Woodrow walked with two outs following a strikeout and a forceout. Gibson saw a 2-0 fastball and lifted it over the fence in right-center field.
"I got it to 2-0 and knew since there were two guys on I needed to capitalize the best I could, so I wasn't swinging unless it was right in my sweet spot. Luckily, it was in there and I watched it sail over the fence," Gibson said. "None of it could have really been possible if people weren't getting on with two outs."
Anthony Pereira singled with one out in the fifth before Woodrow struck out ahead of Gibson's third at-bat against Pastrone. The Michigan native worked the count full, got the breaking ball he was looking for and pulled his second homer to right.
"Second one, I got to two strikes and had a feeling I was going to get a breaking ball. I really wasn't trying to do too much, but I let my hands work," he said. "So I sat off-speed and just put the sweet spot on the ball."
Including both of Gibson's homers, the Whitecaps had four two-out hits to account for seven of their 10 runs after Burlington chased West Michigan starter Gregory Soto with a four-run first inning.
"That's kind of what we did today, we hit really well with two outs," Gibson said. "We gave up four in the first inning, but knowing our team, no one was really down the whole time."
The 2015 fifth-round pick singled leading off the seventh and scored on a throwing error after Jacob Robson's bunt single.
Gibson's improvement in his second full season begins with lessons he learned in his first appearance with the parent club at big league Spring Training. In four Grapefruit League games, he had one hit -- a two-run triple -- in three at-bats.
"I think the main thing was while I was hitting I would be rushed," Gibson said. "I would work on getting my foot down sooner and being more fluent, that's the biggest thing that's helped me so far."
While with the Tigers in Lakeland, Gibson got the chance to work with a familiar teacher, former big leaguer Alan Trammell. Trammell played in Detroit alongside Kirk Gibson for 12 of his 20 years in the Majors and now serves as special assistant to general manager Al Avila.
"Alan Trammell has been with my dad throughout their whole career and he's been like an uncle to me, always making time to work with me and just always treated me like one of his own," Gibson said. "I'm grateful that he's still around now and I'm always ready to learn from him."
Blaise Salter doubled three times on a four-hit night for West Michigan, driving in one run and scoring another.