Cougars' Kuebler hits three homers

Royals prospect more than doubles season total, plates four

Jake Kuebler is batting .318 with five homers since the All-Star break. (Burlington Bees)

By David Heck / Special to | July 6, 2011 9:08 PM ET

Jake Kuebler came into Wednesday night's game with two home runs this season. He left with five.

The Royals prospect went deep three times and drove in a career-high four runs, powering the Class A Kane County Cougars to a 10-7 victory over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Kuebler also scored four times in the first multi-homer game of his four-year career.

"I've been working with the guys on our team," Kuebler said. "Our manager [Vance Wilson] and hitting coach [Damon Hollins] have been trying to change things up. The first time I did that was about a week and a half ago. That's when I hit my first home run, then yesterday I had another and then the three today. I've been sticking to my approach and it's been working pretty good."

Kuebler, the cousin of Kansas City's Alex Gordon, missed the start of the season after suffering a head injury in Spring Training. He struggled upon his return on May 20, batting under .200 until Wednesday.

"It was really hard coming back at first," the 2008 17th-round pick said. "For about a month, I was trying to feel my way back in. My mechanics weren't there and I was trying to make up for lost time."

Kuebler homered in his first at-bat Wednesday, taking a 2-0 pitch from starter Del Howell over the left-field wall. He went deep again in the seventh, winning a battle with reliever Dan Britt.

"It was about a 10-pitch at-bat," Kuebler said. "I fouled three pitches off my ankle, which is all bruised up now. I took the count to 3-2 and had a two-strike approach. I squared it up and took it over the fence."

The 21-year-old first baseman's final longball came in the ninth against Skyler Crawford.

"The count went to 1-2 and I was just thinking, 'Let's not strike out right now,'" Kuebler said. "I didn't want to end the game on a bad note. I got a curveball up and put a good swing on it.

"So it's kind of two different ends of the spectrum. I got ahead in the count [earlier] and got down in the count [later], but I battled and got a pitch to hit."

After failing to homer in his first 29 games, Kuebler has five in his last nine contests. Getting some time off during the Midwest League All-Star break helped him clear his head and make changes to his swing, he said.

"I went back home for the All-Star break and came back with a new attitude," he said. "I've been trying to stick to my approach. I made the mechanical changes that I needed to make and I was trying to take them over to the game. I think that's a big difference. Those things combined to have good results."

Since the All-Star break, Kuebler is hitting .318 (14-for-44) with nine RBIs, 11 runs scored and a 1.059 OPS in 12 games. In doing so, he has raised his average 48 points to .211.

"I told myself I wanted to be hitting at least .225 by the end of July and .250 by the end of the season," Kuebler said. "I was hitting under .100 [during my] first month of the season. I took a step back and am taking it one day at a time. I'm not trying to get five hits every other day. I've been trying to hit balls hard rather than trying to get hits."

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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