Proctor catches on as 'Caps' leadoff hitter

Tigers backstop notches career-high five hits from top of order

Christopher Proctor is hitting .308 in home games for the Whitecaps this season. (Tom Hagerty/

By Katie Woo / | June 27, 2019 12:41 AM

One year ago today, Christopher Proctor made his Midwest League debut. The Tigers backstop delivered a perfect game at the plate (and a nice one behind it as well) Wednesday to commemorate the anniversary.

Proctor hammered out a career-high five hits with a double, three runs scored and two RBIs in Class A West Michigan's 15-1 rout of Daytona at Fifth Third Ballpark. 

"I didn't know that," Proctor laughed about the anniversary. "That's awesome. I would definitely call that a celebration."

Video: Christopher Proctor belts double for fifth hit of gam

The 22-year-old got started quickly by lining a single up the middle on the second pitch he saw from 10th-ranked Reds prospect Lyon Richardson to lead off the first inning. He lofted a second single off the right-hander in the following frame before roping a first-pitch single to right off righty Eduardo Salazar in the third.

Proctor tagged Salazar once more in the fifth, driving in Reynaldo Rivera to extend the Whitecaps lead to 11-1 and knocking the 21-year-old out of the game. In his final at-bat, the Duke product worked a full count off righty Moises Nova before barreling a double down the left-field line to score Detroit's No. 8 prospect Parker Meadows to cap his career night.

Gameday box score

This season, Proctor has hit everywhere in the Whitecaps lineup except the cleanup spot over the course of 39 games this season. He's hit leadoff for the team four times, but his approach doesn't change no matter where he's hitting.

"My approach pretty much stayed the same," he said. "I was looking for the fastball and not letting the fastball go for strikes. 

"I was hitting in the three-hole for a while and getting a lot of off-speed, but I was still hitting the fastball. I didn't really change my approach per se. I knew my first at-bat I had to be a little more patient and at least see one pitch before I was ready to swing." 

After two games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to start his professional career following the Draft, Proctor joined West Michigan for the remainder of the 2018 season, posting a .111/.182/.144 slash line in 31 games. 

His sophomore campaign has been much smoother. Proctor entered Wednesday's contest with a .222 average and raised it 25 points to .247. While he doesn't play every day for West Michigan, the North Carolina native batted .304/.377/.391 in May, the best month of his professional career. He swatted his first home run on May 19 and has plated 17 runs while slugging six doubles through the first half of the season. 

He attributes that to adjustments made with West Michigan hitting coach John Vander Wal. 

2019 MiLB include

"I've been working on keeping my head back and not letting my head lean forward," Proctor said. "I wanted my hands ready to come forward when the pitcher released the ball and keep my head back. That was pretty much the whole focus."

For as effective as Proctor was at the plate, he also dominated behind it as the Whitecaps pitching staff gave up a combined five hits. Wilkel Hernandez (5-4, 4.44 ERA) picked up the win after going six innings. The 20-year-old righty gave up all five hits and two walks while striking out four. The relief combination of righties Sandel De La Cruz and Angel Reyes closed the door with three perfect innings and two strikeouts apiece. 

Andre Lipcius, Detroit's third round pick in the 2019 Draft, went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Zach Malis connected on a three-run homer to lead the offense.

Cincinnati's sixth-ranked prospect Michael Siani belted a solo shot in the first inning. 

Katie Woo is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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