Panik warms up with cool approach

Giants prospect shakes off slump with another three-hit game

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to | June 22, 2012 10:25 PM ET

Baseball is a game of streaks. Whether hot or cold, players have to know how to ride them out and trust that the law of averages will reflect their true talent in the end.

Right now, Joe Panik is pretty content with how that's working out.

The Giants' No. 7 prospect collected three more hits, homered for the second straight game and drove in four runs Friday night, leading Class A Advanced San Jose to a 7-2 victory over Visalia.

Panik extended his hitting streak to 11 games by building on his effort from Thursday night, when he went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in the opener of the four-game series against the Rawhide.

After batting .221 in April, the 2011 first-round pick has been resurgent over the last two months, hitting .291 in May and .297 so far in June.

"I started off cold and you just keep telling yourself, 'It's a long season, you'll get 500, 600 at-bats,'" Panik said. "You just keep focused on the task at hand, not get too far ahead or look too far in the past and everything will work itself out over the course of time."

Drafted 29th overall pick, the St. John's University product also has seen an increase in his power production during the hitting streak, belting three of his four homers this season over the last 10 games. He's also doubled twice and tripled once in that span, giving him five of his 24 extra-base hits since June 8.

Panik said that as a middle infielder who hits atop the lineup, power is more of a bonus.

"Being a shortstop, a two-hitter, I try not to be too concerned with power, but it's definitely something that if it comes around, it's a plus," he added. "I consider myself a gap-to-gap hitter, a doubles-type hitter, but if the homers come, that's great."

More importantly for a hitter of his profile is taking a balanced approach at the plate and being able to work quality at-bats, Panik said. He's generally managed to do that this season, drawing more walks (33) than strikeouts (26).

"I'm trying to improve my on-base percentage a little bit," said the 21-year-old. "I'm a two-hitter, so I want to get on base more. It doesn't necessarily have to be batting average but getting on base. I want to keep that going."

After starting May with a .311 on-base percentage, Panik has worked it up to .348. His slugging percentage also has climbed from .278 on May 1 to .397.

"That's my approach -- work counts, try to put the ball in play," he said. "I've been getting into a rhythm, getting used to the pitching, the surroundings. I'm starting to feel more comfortable over the past couple weeks and I'm having some good swings."

San Jose also got a big night from Giants No. 16 prospect Ricky Oropesa, who fell a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two runs. Starter Jack Snodgrass (7-2) allowed wo runs on five hits and two walks while fanning three over 5 2/3 innings for the win.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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