While Jose Miranda may not seem like the typical cleanup hitter with his below-average power, the Cedar Rapids Kernels have faith in what he can do with runners in scoring position.
On Wednesday, the Twins' No. 28 prospect backed up that trust with a career-high six RBIs as he went 3-for-5 with a grand slam and a pair of doubles in Class A Cedar Rapids' 15-4 win over Wisconsin at Perfect Game Field.
Video: Kernels go back-to-back-to-back
Miranda, who hadn't plated a run in his previous six games, ripped an RBI double to center field in the first inning, then doubled to right in the fourth for his fourth multi-hit effort in his last 10 contests. Including his homer that cleared the fence in left, the 19-year-old utilized all fields.
"He had a couple chance with runners on base and he had big hits," Kernels hitting coach Brian Dinkelman said. "I think just the player he is, he's used to using the whole field pretty well."
Gameday box score
The Kernels put on a clinic in the eighth, sending 12 men to the plate and drilling four homers in the nine-run outburst. After a pair of walks and a flyout that moved the runners over to start the inning, Twins No. 6 prospect Alex Kirilloff was intentionally walked to bring up Miranda.
With that extra motivation, the Puerto Rico native belted a 1-0 offering for his first career grand slam and fourth long ball of the season. Standing at third base, Dinkelman thought the ball was heading foul, then got to see Miranda round the bases.
"It was good, it was fun," the coach said. "He was excited. He was smiling from ear to ear."
Following Miranda's lead, Jacob Pearson slugged his first career homer. After a pitching change, Robby Rinn smacked his first jack of the season to complete the trifecta.
"That was neat. The crowd as getting excited after Miranda's slam," Dinkelman said. "Then it was exciting when Robby hit the second one and then Pearson hit the third to go back-to-back-to-back."
After a slow start, which Dinkelman said is probably due to adjusting to a new level and cold weather, Miranda is heating up at the plate. He's hitting .359 over his last 10 games to bump his average up to .232, the highest it's been since the third game of the season.
"He's gotten better the last few weeks. Struggled at the beginning and he would chase balls out of the zone," the former Major Leaguer said. "But he's getting better at waiting for his pitch with runners in scoring position."
Dinkelman also liked the way Royce Lewis has been squaring up the ball recently. The top Twins prospect bumped his average to .312 after going 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, two stolen bases and three runs scored. Leadoff man Akil Baddoo also went yard and set a career high with four runs scored.
Reliever Jovani Moran (3-2) notched the win after working around a hit and a walk with five strikeouts in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.