Chad Spanberger proved to be one of the loudest bats to come out of last year's Draft, and he's cranked up the volume in his first full season with Class A Asheville.
The Rockies' 25th-ranked prospect doubled and drove in a pair of runs Friday night en route to his first professional four-hit game as the Tourists rolled to a 10-5 win over Greensboro at McCormick Field. Spanberger raised his average to .310 while seeing his slugging percentage climb to .549, third-best in the South Atlantic League.
Gameday box score
After completing last season with a .294 average and 51 RBIs, the 22-year-old has continued to produce in nearly half as many games with the Tourists. Spanberger has seven homers, six doubles, 26 RBIs and 21 runs scored in 29 contests.
"I was really just seeing the ball well," he said. "It worked for me last year, so I don't want to change anything with approach or anything with my swing. I just stay true to who I am and it turned out well."
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound first baseman has developed another potential tool, increasing his stolen base total from two last season to seven in eight attempts in 2018. Spanberger said that the transformation began in Spring Training, when the organization made it a goal to become the league leader in stolen bases.
"You just always want to up your game somehow," Spanberger said. "I've never been a basestealer, but ... this is more of like a comfort learning how to steal bases. And if you get thrown out, you get thrown out, but you just got to go."
Friday's performance eclipsed his previous high of three hits, a feat he's accomplished four times, and marked his ninth multi-hit effort this season.
A sixth-round selection last June, Spanberger finished second in the Pioneer League wsith 19 homers in 60 games for Rookie-level Grand Junction. The power surge was an extension of the stroke he discovered late in his junior season at the University of Arkansas. In his final 16 games with the Razorbacks, Spanberger went deep 10 times to become the fifth player in program history to reach the 20-homer mark.
"It's nice to get off to a good start," he said. "Obviously, the first home run is the hardest and then they come in bunches. ... It's baseball -- you just find yourself with a homer or two home runs and you're just back into it."
With two outs and runners in scoring position against Greensboro starter Brandon Miller in the opening inning Friday, Spanberger knocked a fly ball off the wall in right field for a two-run double. He got to the right-hander again in the third, lining a base hit to right.
The Granite City, Illinois, native was plunked by reliever Colton Hock in the sixth before scoring on Ramon Marcelino's triple to spark a five-run rally. He took advantage of an overshifted infield in the seventh, bunted for a single to the left side and scoring on Matt McLaughlin's sacrifice fly before collecting his fourth hit on a bloop just beyond the reach of third baseman Garvis Lara in the eighth.
Although he's had no problem handling SAL pitching, Spanberger said there's a noticeable difference in the dependability of the circuit's hurlers compared to the hitter-friendly Pioneer League.
"Every team, they have -- everyone who comes out of the 'pen -- someone who can spot up two or three pitches," he said. "They're still working on stuff, but I'd just say it's more [consistent]."
Rockies No. 6 prospect Ryan Vilade contributed an RBI double and a run scored for Asheville, while 24th-ranked Ben Bowden yielded a run on three hits while striking out three in two innings of relief.
Marcos Rivera smacked a three-run homer and Michael Hernandez added a solo shot for the Grasshoppers.