Fontana powers up for JetHawks

No. 11 Astros prospect collects four hits, four RBIs in rout

By Josh Jackson / Special to | June 30, 2013 9:23 PM ET

California League pitchers, take notice: Nolan Fontana is getting back into the swing of things.

The Astros' No. 11 prospect was 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs in Class A Advanced Lancaster's 17-3 rout of Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday.

"I was just trying to do the same thing as every day -- stick to my approach, get good pitches to hit and capitalize on those mistakes that pitchers make," he said.

Houston drafted Fontana out of the University of Florida in the second round last year, and he played 49 games with Class A Lexington. This season, Fontana had been hitting .317 before being sidelined with a wrist injury from May 15 to June 3, and he admitted he'd faced an adjustment since returning from the disabled list. The 22-year-old native of Winter Gardens, Fla. saw his batting average dip to .271 before his four-hit performance.

"When you take some time away from the game, it always takes a little bit to get the feel for things again," he said. "But I feel like things are moving in the right direction."

Fontana enjoyed facing two-time Major League All-Star Ted Lilly, but he didn't have success against him in his first two at-bats. Lilly was pitching for the first time since June 4, when a neck strain sent him to the disabled list. The southpaw struck out the left-handed hitting shortstop in the first and got him to bounce to second base in the second.

"He made a couple of great pitches, and you've just got to tip your cap," Fontana said.

Two innings later, Fontana laced an RBI double to right off Raydel Sanchez. His two-bagger made it a four-run game. He repeated the trick off Lindsey Caughel in the sixth, plating another couple of runs, and singled against Caughel in the next inning.

"Any time you get some guys in scoring position and do your job, that's big at any point, especially when it's a close game and you're a part of a rally," Fontana said. "The whole team did a good job of not letting up."

With the JetHawks ahead headed into the eighth, 10-2, the Quakes put infielder Pedro Guerrero on the mound. Fontana poked an RBI single through the right side and loaded the bases, which chased Guerrero and led to a grand slam by Andrew Alpin off Scott Wingo -- another infielder.

"It's one of those things," Fontana said. "You've just got to think of it as being another pitcher. Sometimes it might be a little harder to focus, but you've got to take it as seriously as you take any at-bat against anybody else."

Lancaster had 18 hits in the game, and top Astros prospect Delino Deshields Jr. reached base three times, swiped a bag, scored twice and knocked in a run. Brandon Meredith had four hits, four runs scored and two RBIs.

Carl Crawford, out of the Dodgers lineup since June 1 with a right hamstring strain, was 2-for-3 with a run scored in his first rehab game with Rancho Cucamonga.

"Any time you get to play against big leaguers," Fontana said, "it's a fun experience."

Lilly went three innings, giving up four runs on five hits and a two walks. He struck out four. Lilly exited after taking a liner off the shin, but he reportedly wasn't injured.

Josh Jackson 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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