Joe Dunand might be starting to figure the Southern League out.
Miami's No. 22 prospect homered twice and finished with a career-high four hits while falling a triple shy of the cycle in Double-A Jacksonville's 9-2 win over Pensacola on Wednesday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Video: Dunand drives second blast for Jumbo Shrimp
Dunand tied his career high with four RBIs and scored three runs during his third multi-hit effort in six games, equaling his total through his first 39 contests with the Jumbo Shrimp. But it was a recent phone call with his uncle, three-time American League MVP Alex Rodriguez, that helped Dunand get his mind and body moving in the same direction.
"He's obviously extremely busy, but we talk a lot," Dunand said. "Whenever I want to chat with him, he's always there for me. When I was really struggling a few weeks ago, I asked him, 'What do you do when your body is feeling fatigued?' He basically told me to not overthink things and reset. He really wasn't even talking about baseball, but rather the things a ballplayer needs to do off the field to get through such a long season."
The 22-year-old's cycle bid began innocuously when he tapped out softly to pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez, the ninth-ranked Reds prospect, in the first inning. He beat out on a bunt single to third base and scored on a throwing error by Pensacola catcher Chris Okey, Cincinnati's No. 27 prospect.
Gameday box score
Dunand's snapped a 12-game homerless drought with a two-run shot to left field in the sixth and followed with another tater to left in his next at-bat in the seventh for his first multi-home run game. The North Carolina State product doubled to left in the eighth to cap his four-hit game.
"It was a great night. I saw the ball well," he said. "I never go up there looking to hit home runs. I'm trying to get on base or drive the ball hard somewhere. It was funny to me, because [my first hit], I laid down the bunt for a single, and then the next two, I went deep. When I hit that second one, I heard [top Marlins prospect Monte Harrison] celebrate. He must have known it was out. It was a pretty cool feeling."
Promoted to Double-A after hitting .263/.326/.391 in 66 games with Class A Advanced Jupiter, Dunand hit .159 through 44 games entering Wednesday. But the Miami native has batted .333 with six RBIs in his last 10 games to lift his average 32 points. Overall, Dunand has amassed a slash line of .230/.297/.370 with 30 extra-base hits and 61 RBIs in 109 games.
"The thing I take away from struggling is to stick with the process and do what you need to do to get better," he said. "Everybody struggles in their careers. This is my first full year and I'm learning a lot about what I need to do. I would say my body was getting a little tired a few weeks ago and that's a part of learning. It's the first time I've played this much in one year, but I feel it getting better.
"My uncle told me, 'Everyone is going to struggle. Whether you're Alex Rodriguez or Barry Bonds. But a good hitter finds his way.' For me, it just happened to coincide when I was promoted."
Playing in his second rehab game, Lewis Brinson homered on the first pitch of the night and Justin Twine went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs.
Jacksonville starter Nick Neidert (11-6) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits to win his league-best 11th game. The third-ranked Marlins prospect struck out seven and walked one to win his third consecutive decision.
Okey supplied Pensacola's offense with a two-run homer, his fourth of the season.
Gutierrez (9-10) was tagged with five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits in six innings. The right-hander struck out seven and did not walk a batter.