Small tweaks net big results for Erie's Gerber

Tigers' No. 7 prospect goes yard twice to double season total

Mike Gerber is hitting .470 with six extra-base hits over his last eight games for Double-A Erie. (Kevin Pataky/

By Gerard Gilberto / | May 11, 2017 9:54 PM ET

A look at recent box scores shows improvement from Mike Gerber and the Double-A Erie slugger is quick to attribute that to fine-tuning. 

"I've just made a couple adjustments at the plate, kind of just shortened my stroke a little bit," he said. "I haven't been missing my pitches. That's kind of the biggest thing."

The Tigers' No. 7 prospect collected four hits, including two homers to double his season total, as the Double-A SeaWolves rolled by the Hartford Yard Goats, 7-1, on Thursday at Dunkin' Donuts Park.

Starting with a 5-for-5 performance on May 3 against Bowie, Gerber has hit .470 with six extra-base hits in his last eight games.

Gameday box score

"I just kind of shortened up and squared, kind of closed off my stance a little bit," the outfielder said. "I was a little bit more open and now I'm kind of just straight up. So it's just a couple minor things, nothing real huge. They seem to pay off so far."

On Thursday, Hartford starter Ryan Castellani was no match for Gerber, who went 3-for-3 against the right-hander. Following a single by Harold Castro to lead off the game and a walk by Jeff McVaney, Gerber singled to right field to load the bases. 

"I was able to get some fastballs and get into some good hitters' counts," he said. "I just didn't miss the pitches that I should hit, so I was able to put a couple of good swings on balls and it was a good day."

Castellani escaped the jam with a pair of strikeouts before getting Gabriel Quintana to pop out.

"The first at-bat, it was a little bit tougher to see. The pitcher was out of the shadow, but the batter's eye had a glare from the sun coming off of it," Gerber said of Hartford's new stadium. "The second time around the order, I think the guys were a little more comfortable. I think it was easier to see with the shadow covering the batter's eye as well."

Video: Erie's Gerber goes deep again

A 15th-round pick in the 2014 Draft, Gerber lifted the first pitch he saw from Castellani in the third inning over the fence in left-center to extend Erie's lead to 2-0.

"I didn't go up there trying to hit it in a certain spot. I just went up and tried to have a quality at-bat and square the ball up," Gerber said. "He threw a fastball, it was away but it was over the plate. I was just able to put a good swing on it."

After falling into an 0-2 hole against Castellani in the fifth, the Nashville native singled up the middle.

The Creighton University product homered off Steve Ascher in the ninth as the SeaWolves scored four runs. 

"[Ascher] was a pitcher that threw a pretty good cutter," Gerber said. "I kind of had an idea he was going to try to work me in with those cutters. He got me to two strikes when he threw me one up-and-in that I swung through. He went back to it the next pitch and I was able to get the barrel to the ball."

MiLB include

Gerber has three four-hit games this season -- one more than he's had in his previous two seasons. 

The SeaWolves compiled 15 hits in the contest, including a pair of singles by Castro, who's batting .364 in four games since being promoted from Class A Advanced Lakeland on May 4. Quintana homered, singled and scored twice.

Christin Stewart, the Tigers' No. 2 prospect and the SeaWolves' leader with nine homers, was the only player in the lineup who didn't record a hit. Gerber knows how vital Stewart is to the team. 

"My goal is to get on base so that Stewart can drive me in. He's got a chance to leave the yard at any point in the game. So if I can get on base, he can drive me in and that'll help us win," Gerber said. "But one through nine, everything's kind of been clicking the past few games, and it's a good group of guys to play with."

Rockies No. 8 prospect Ryan McMahon hit his fifth homer of the year off Erie starter A.J. Ladwig. McMahon has at least one hit in five of his last six games and is batting .331. 

Ladwig (1-0) surrendered a run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts in the win. 

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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