Jake Hager's rocky patch has given him a new appreciation for his current success.
The Rays' No. 15 prospect was 5-for-5 and tied a career high with five RBIs as Bowling Green cruised past Lansing, 12-1, on Friday.
Hager, a first-round pick in 2011, singled in the first inning, doubled home a run in the third and smacked a two-RBI double in the fifth. He added his third double of the night in the seventh to plate another run and added an RBI single in the eighth for a career-high fifth hit.
"I just stayed with my same approach, I just hit the ball up the middle," he said. "Today the ball felt like a beach ball. I had runners on base and I wanted to get the job done. I felt confident at the plate tonight."
Hager, who also scored a run, got off to a sluggish start this season, batting .200 in 19 April games. The Nevada native picked it up a bit in May, batting .275, but has been on fire in June. He's hitting .372 with 16 RBIs and a .956 OPS in 20 games this month. He attributes his current success to his early hardships.
"Going through that phase, going through that rough patch, I changed my swing up. I stayed up tall at the plate," Hager said. "Going through that rough patch helped me. Now I know what to do when I struggle, it really helped me. It's been a fun June."
Hager drove in five runs against Fort Wayne on May 28 and had four hits in a game twice in his career, most recently on May 26.
Overall, the 19-year-old shortstop is batting .285 with three homers and 34 RBIs. Hager thinks his recent hot streak is sustainable.
"Basically my goal is to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "Play good defense, keep hitting the ball hard, keep working hard and get the win for the team. Keep coming to the park every day and have the same mindset every day. Stay with my approach, don't change anything."
Todd Glaesmann was 4-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Ryan Brett reached base three times, scored three runs and stole three bases while Drew Vettleson, the club's No. 7 prospect, drove in a run for the Hot Rods. Playing for one of the best offenses in the Midwest League has been a great experience for Hager.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "We get along very well, it's a great team to be with. To be a part of this team is very special and I'm honored to be on this team."
Roberto Gomez improved to 8-2 after allowing a run on five hits while fanning five over six innings for Bowling Green.
Carlos Perez, the Blue Jays' No. 8 prospect, singled home the Lugnuts' lone run.