Bregman belts two homers for Grizzlies
The last week has been a whirlwind for top Astros prospect Alex Bregman. The 22-year-old shortstop took part in the Texas League All-Star Game on June 28, the same day he was named to the United States roster for the Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game. Then he got the news he'd really been waiting for -- he was headed to Triple-A.
MLB.com's No. 18 overall prospect cracked two homers and drove in three runs Monday as Triple-A Fresno beat visiting Sacramento, 4-1.
"It's been fun, man," Bregman said of his first week at the Minor Leagues' highest level. "I've been having a blast just showing up to the field every day, trying to win baseball games for the Grizzlies. It's been a good transition so far, and I'm just trying to keep it rolling."
That transition has been good for both, with the Grizzlies having won four of their five games since Bregman's promotion including a 23-3 blowout victory at Salt Lake paced by Bregman and Preston Tucker in the shortstop's debut. Bregman has factored heavily in Fresno's recent surge with hits in each game he's played.
The New Mexico product sparked his team to an early lead against the River Cats when he mashed a two-run homer to left field in the third inning. After Sacramento cut the lead to a run on Gorkys Hernandez's RBI single to center in the sixth, Bregman answered with a homer to left leading off the eighth.
"The first one, I got 2-0 and [Sacramento starter Adalberto Mejia] threw me a changeup down and over the middle of the plate," last year's second overall pick said. "I was thinking to hit something the other way hard and was just fortunate to be on time with that changeup. The second at-bat, I went up there to lead off the inning, and I was looking for a fastball middle, middle-away. The pitch was kind of middle-in, but I was fortunate enough to hit it to center and hit it good."
Bregman's second homer, off River Cats reliever Jake Dunning in the eighth, provided his team some insurance. Houston's No. 23 prospect Teoscar Hernandez added to it with an RBI triple to right to plate Nolan Fontana later in the inning.
Since joining the Grizzlies, Bregman is batting .476 (10-for-21) with four homers -- in three of his last four games -- and 11 RBIs. The level of competition has been different, but Bregman says he's kept the reasons why in clear perspective.
"I think it's just older guys who know what they do well and execute their gameplan," he said. "I think what you have to do is just go into every at-bat and execute your gameplan."
Bregman said his version of that plan has been similar to the vision he had with Double-A Corpus Christi for the season's first three months.
"I'm just looking for a pitch that I can drive through the middle of the field, and I've been fortunate enough to get a few pitches to hit," he said. "That's just due to my teammates in front of me and behind me getting on base and creating opportunities for me to come through. I've been fortunate enough to put some good swings on some balls."
Since Bregman moved up, the Grizzlies have outscored their opponents 41-13 while going 4-1.
"It's a special team," the LSU product said. "I think a lot of these guys could be playing in the big leagues right now. It's fun to show up to the yard every day and get to compete with such good players."
Still despite the midseason accolades, an impending trip to San Diego for All-Star festivities and the eyes of Astros fans focused on his progress one rung below the big leagues, Bregman says he hasn't changed his attitude about his development.
"Right now, I'm just focused on getting better as a baseball player, getting better in every aspect of the game, every single day, and I think that's all I can do," he said.
Bregman's heroics helped make a winner out of right-hander Cesar Valdez (6-1), who allowed a run on six hits while striking out five over seven innings.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.