Custodio surprises with show of power

Charleston infielder with three career homers goes yard twice

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to | May 19, 2013 7:05 PM ET

Class A Charleston's Claudio Custodio is not, by anyone's definition, a power hitter. He hit one last season and one a year before that.

But there he was Sunday, looking like a slugger anyway.

The 22-year-old hit a solo shot to help the RiverDogs tie the game in the eighth.

His second longball came an inning later. Custodio lifted a two-run shot to left field for the final tallies in Charleston's 9-7 win over Greenville.

For the first time in his career, the second baseman hit two home runs, equaling his combined output from the previous two seasons in a single game.

"I was surprised, especially the one to right-center. He hit that ball real well. He got some good pitches to hit, but it was definitely surprising to see that kind of power today," said RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique. "He's a very quiet kid, kind of hard to get words out of his mouth, but he was excited with the game he had today. Defensively he started the 4-6-3 double play in the eighth, and with those two homers, he was very excited about the great game he had."

With the home run he hit in his second game of the season, Custodio has three this year. Overall, he's hitting .261/.337/.455 in 26 games. That isolated slugging percentage of .194 is well beyond what he's produced in his other two seasons.

Last year with Class A Short-Season Staten Island, the Dominican Republic native hit .253/.297/.349 (.096 ISO) in 62 games. In 2011, his line with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees was .325/.433/.414 (.089 ISO) in 39 games.

What he has done well -- Sunday's shocking spurt of power notwithstanding -- according to Pedrique, is use his impressive speed once on base. He stole 26 times in 28 attempts in 2011, 13 times in 14 tries last year, and with a stolen base Sunday, is 9-for-10 so far this season.

Pedrique said the key for Custodio is to take an approach at the plate that leads to more trips on base.

"His strength as a hitter is that he has some speed. He needs to put the ball in play more, has a tendency to hit a lot of fly balls and he needs to concentrate on hitting line drives or ground balls," Pedrique noted. "He's working on staying on top of the ball, hitting more ground balls, line drives. If he does that, then obviously his speed will come into play and he'll be able to steal more bases once he starts increasing his on-base percentage."

Center fielder Jake Cave was also a big factor for Charleston on Sunday. Cave went 4-for-6 out of the leadoff spot, slashing three doubles and a triple while driving in two runs. Gregory Bird homered and doubled and Yeicok Calderon also went yard once for the RiverDogs.

Jonathan Raymond 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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