While teammates scroll through Instagram, punch out texts or rest their eyes during long bus rides through the South Atlantic League, David Miranda prefers to use his time to study. The outfielder picked up a degree in Public Safety Administration from Florida Atlantic University, but has taken to analyzing The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg in his spare time in hopes of forming a routine that will vault him to the Major Leagues.
Those results clearly paid off with the biggest professional moment to date in Miranda's career Monday night.
The Mets' 25th-round Draft pick this year smacked his career-high fifth hit of the evening to plate the go-ahead run in Class A Columbia's 8-7 victory over Delmarva at Spirit Communications Park on Monday. Miranda scored three runs while knocking in a pair, raising his average to .545 over six games with the Fireflies.
Video: Columbia's Miranda knocks go-ahead single
"It's so big to be mentally strong and tough on a consistent basis and create good habits and a routine," he said. "With going from college baseball to the pros, you have to be locked in every day, compared to just three or four days a week.
"I'm just motivated to keep getting better. I want to get better and I knew I needed to make the most of those long bus rides. What's the point of being on my phone when I could learn and get better looking at books? I know from talking to guys and coaches and past experiences, the only big difference between us and the guys above us is the mentality, and I'm motivated to make it all the way."
Miranda began his career with Class A Short Season Brooklyn, but struggled to earn an everyday starting role. After coming off a First Team All-Conference USA season, his inconsistent playing time fed into his lack of success at the plate and he batted .200 over 20 games.
But the Mets saw enough of the 23-year-old during his spot starts and promoted him to Columbia on Aug. 5.
"It's just been the opportunity here," he said. "I've been working hard every day, even down in Brooklyn, but it was hard to find a rhythm and improve there. But nothing has changed. I just got the opportunity up here and want to prove something with every at-bat."
Gameday box score
Miranda started quickly Monday, poking a ground-ball single to left field two batters into the bottom of the first inning. He scored on the next crack of the bat as Matt Winaker knocked a homer to right. In the second, Miranda belted an RBI double to left, plating Hansel Moreno. After advancing to third on Winaker's groundout, Miranda scored off a passed ball thrown by Delmarva starter Brenan Hanifee, the No. 19 Orioles prospect.
After a single to center in the fifth, the southern California native lined a single to center in the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, Miranda slid safely into home on a shallow sacrifice fly to right by Edgardo Fermin to tie the game, 7-7.
When he came to the plate in the eighth, Miranda kept Duhigg's teachings in the forefront of his mind. The outfielder had Dionis Paulino on third as the go-ahead run and the chance of notching a five-hit game.
"You can't think of anything different," he said. "I took it as any at-bat, just the same approach as I had been all night."
With a 2-2 count, Miranda got a hanging curveball off lefty Nick Vespi and sent a hard line drive up the middle for an RBI single.
With the base knock, he became the third player in Columbia history to deliver a five-hit performance. Dan Rizzie finished 5-for-6 on July 19, 2017 and Enmanuel Zabala went 5-for-5 on Aug. 22, 2016.
After and off-day Tuesday, Miranda and the Fireflies will take a six-hour bus ride to Charleston, West Virginia for a three-game series with the Power. Monday's success will be only a memory as he dives back into his books.
"I've got to put this behind me. Every day is a new day. The next game, I'll get a good lift in and hit the cages and just stick to my routine I've created," Miranda said. "Today was a special day. I'm happy for it, but I've got to take care of tomorrow."
Delmarva took an early 5-2 lead in the second on Will Robertson's two-RBI double to right and Zach Jarrett's two-run triple to right.
Darwin Ramos (4-3) picked up the win after giving up a hit while striking out two over the final two frames.
Hanifee allowed four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits over five innings. He struck out six and didn't allow a walk.