Jhailyn Ortiz ended his slump on Saturday. Then he buried it.
The fifth-ranked Phillies prospect was perfect at the plate in his first career four-hit performance, driving in a run and helping Class A Lakewood to a 7-0 blanking of Hickory at FirstEnergy Park.
Gameday box score
"He looked very comfortable in the box all night," BlueClaws hitting coach Tyler Henson said. "He had a good plan of what he wanted to hit tonight and he did a nice job of executing that plan at the plate."
The 19-year-old was mired in an 0-for-9 funk that spanned his previous three games. But he stepped to the plate with two outs in the first inning and lined a 1-1 fastball from Rangers No. 29 prospect Tyler Phillips (2-5) into right field.
"His timing was just off a hair and we put the work in in the cage to get it right, and it paid off," Henson said. "As an organization, we really preach about a good plan at the plate and sometimes guys worry about mechanics and everything else when things aren't going right, but with Jhailyn we have been preaching plan. He knows to stay on the fastball and he has a good idea when a breaking ball is up in the zone and whether to go get it or not.
"He's a student of the game and still learning, and it's fun working with a guy with the ability that he has."
With two outs in the third, Ortiz hit a dribbler to shortstop off a high curveball that he legged out for an infield single. The native of the Dominican Republic was right on top of a 1-0 fastball in the sixth as he hammered it into center for his third hit. An inning later, Ortiz made righty Jean Casanova pay for a mistake when he left an off-speed pitch in the middle of the plate and drilled another ball to right that drove in Kevin Markham from second base and extended the BlueClaws' advantage to 6-0.
Video: Lakewood's Ortiz rips fourth hit
Before his recent slump, Ortiz had hit safely in eight of 10 games from May 21-29. During that stretch, he had multiple hits six times and a five-game hitting streak that was snapped Wednesday. Henson believes another run could be on the horizon.
"Those little cold streaks are going to happen," he said. "How you handle them mentally will get you back on track faster than anything else. So for us and preaching plan the way we do, I think he's buying into it and it got him back on track tonight.
"He's still a young kid, but he does have that presence when he stands in the batter's box. He even gets pitched to like he's an advanced hitter. And he's made great strides already to make adjustments and he's able to use the whole field."
The lead was more than enough for Damon Jones (4-2), who cruised to his third straight win. The southpaw gave up three hits and three walks while fanning eight over a career-best seven innings. Left-hander Kyle Dohy and righty Connor Brogdon each tossed a frame to seal Lakewood's South Atlantic League-leading 10th shutout and snap a two-game skid. Dohy worked around two walks by striking out three, while Brogdon allowed one hit and registered one punchout.
Rangers No. 29 prospect Tyler Phillips fell to 2-5 after giving up five runs on nine hits over six innings for the Crawdads. He struck out one and walked one.