Jeren Kendall's first 15 days in the Midwest League hadn't turned up many positive results, but his process stayed the same all along. On Thursday night, it paid off.
The fourth-ranked Dodgers prospect led off with a triple as part of the first four-hit game of his Minor League career in Class A Great Lakes' 10-9 loss to West Michigan. The game began Thursday night before it was suspended by rain in the ninth inning, and it wrapped up Friday evening.
Video: Great Lakes' Kendall rips stand-up triple
A first-round pick out of Vanderbilt in June, Kendall busted into pro ball in mid-July by going 10-for-22 (.455) with seven RBIs and a 1.182 OPS in five games for Rookie-level Ogden. His introduction to full-season ball, though, had been a rough one. After 12 games with the Loons, the 23rd overall pick sported a .146/.212/.313 slash line with 16 strikeouts in 48 at-bats.
Then things clicked.
"I think he just had a solid approach at the plate," Great Lakes manager Jeremy Rodriguez said. "It didn't look like he was trying to do too much. He was staying on the fastball and trying to hit it where it was pitched, which is nice to see."
Kendall started with a flash Thursday by driving a leadoff triple to center field in the first inning. He scored the first of two Loons runs in the frame on a single to center by Dodgers No. 9 prospect Gavin Lux.
"He has lightning speed. I was stopping him for an easy double and he turned on the jets and surprised the heck out of me," Rodriguez said with a laugh. "He has great hands, eye-to-ball skills, and I think -- to be honest with you -- he can be an outfielder where you can put him anywhere in the outfield and he can handle his own. I think he's the type of guy that can be a leader. He can definitely be an example for the organization."
Gameday box score
Kendall used those wheels to reach on an infield hit to second base in second and lined an RBI single to left in the fifth. With one out in the eighth, the 21-year-old lifted a bloop single behind third base for his fourth knock.
Entering Thursday's contest, MLB.com's No. 83 overall prospect had just seven hits with the Loons, but his maturity helped keep him on course.
"I think it's definitely huge coming out of the great program and great coaching staff that Vanderbilt has," Rodriguez said. "He's the same guy every day, no matter if he's doing well or if he's struggling. He definitely is a great example for this team and for guys who are struggling. I think it makes life a little bit easier for him, that's for sure."
Nick Yarnall beat out an infield single to first base in the ninth to plate Cody Thomas with the tying run for the Loons before the rain arrived. West Michigan's Cole Bauml singled to right in the bottom of the 11th to win the game in walk-off fashion, scoring Austin Athmann from third.
Video: Great Lakes' Kendall singles for fourth hit
"With him, I think it's just sticking with his routine, sticking with his work ethic, what he's been doing in college," Rodriguez said. "He's been making adjustments throughout the season as it goes on. I think just sticking with it and trusting the work he's been doing in the cages and off the field [is key].
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"It's huge for him just because I know he's been working really hard trying to get out of this little slump he's been in. I think this just kind of proves the point that the work he's been putting in off the field and in the cages has been really helping him. Now it's just sticking with it and seeing how consistent he can be."