Wong's second homer puts Quakes on top

Dodgers No. 15 prospect establishes career high with five RBIs

Connor Wong has started the year 13-for-36 after batting .276 in 28 games in his debut season. (Fernando Gutierrez/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | April 15, 2018 10:55 PM

With a red-letter performance Sunday, Connor Wong tied his 2017 home run total nine games into the 2018 season.

The 15th-ranked Dodgers prospect went yard twice and set a career high with five RBIs, adding a double and scoring three times, as Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga rallied for a 9-8 win over Inland Empire at LoanMart Field.

Gameday box score

"It's nice," he said, adding he's been "making the right adjustments, obviously, to give myself better opportunities at the plate, and also really focusing on swinging at pitches I can handle and letting pitches go that I know can't do anything with. That really helps."

Wong has seven hits, including three homers, over the past three games, giving him a .361 average and five jacks on the season. The 2017 third-round pick totaled five homers in 28 games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and the Class A Midwest League last summer. In an Aug. 19 game for Great Lakes, he drove in four runs.

Facing Inland Empire starter Erik Manoah with a runner on first base in the opening frame, Wong hammered the fifth pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left-center field.

"[I was] really looking for a pitch I can handle, something I can put a good swing on -- not necessarily a certain pitch, but just to see pitches and try and hit the ball hard," he said. "It was just one good at-bat so far -- the day's not done, and there's a good ballclub on the other side of the field. [My mind-set was to] just keep competing and have more good at-bats."

The right-handed hitter socked an opposite-field double to start a two-run seventh against left-hander Adrian Almeida, cutting the 66ers' lead to 7-6.

"We're down and I'm just trying to put together another good at-bat, I guess," Wong said. "He's a lefty that throws hard, a two-pitch mix to righties, and I was looking for something I can handle. It was a fastball, probably middle-outer third."

With the Quakes still trailing in the eighth, he stepped in against Greg Belton with two outs and runners on first and second. He took three straight balls, swung at a strike and sent the next offering out of the park in center.

Wong said he felt, "Thankful, really thankful and happy that I can help the team in that aspect."

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A catcher who played shortstop into his college career, the University of Houston product played his first professional game as a second baseman Sunday.

"It was a little bit of anxiety at first, but it was a lot of fun. Just being able to do everything, being able to help the team in whatever way I can is a lot of fun," Wong said. "[Playing multiple positions is] something we talked about in Spring Training and last year. After signing, [the Dodgers] said they wanted to stick with versatility, but for me, it's been more focusing on catching in Spring Training, to learn to be the best that I can back there and [the versatility's] something that's come naturally to me -- being athletic."

Rylan Bannon, selected five rounds after Wong last year, went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.

Nolan Long (1-0) worked around two hits and fanned four over 2 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win. Evy Ruibal faced and retired one batter to earn his first save.

Jared Walsh slugged two homers for Inland Empire, giving him four on the year -- all since Thursday.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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