Last year, Robbie Grossman became the first Minor Leaguer since Nick Swisher in 2004 to walk 100 times and score 100 runs in a season, and led to him earning the distinction of Pirates' Minor League Player of the Year.
That form did not automatically carry over into this season, though. At the end of April, the outfielder was staring at a batting average south of .200. But over the past few weeks, he's started finding that stroke again.
Pittsburgh's No. 7 prospect went 4-for-6 with two doubles, three runs and an RBI as Double-A Altoona pounded Harrisburg, 11-3. The effort also extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a stretch during which he's hit .380 (19-for-50).
"It was nice to put some hits together, put some good quality at-bats together," said the San Diego native. "I'm figuring out my swing. I kind of lost it at the beginning of the season, but I'm getting back into the swing of things. You take a good approach and things go your way."
Grossman has had no trouble continuing to draw walks and get on base out of the leadoff spot for the Curve. He sports a .347 on-base percentage, with 39 walks -- third in the Eastern League -- against 62 strikeouts in 269 at-bats with 48 runs scored, most in the league. He's also slugged at a .398 clip.
The switch-hitter said that, as the leadoff man, that remained his primary focus as he's worked on finding his swing through the first half of the season.
"I just try to get up there and get in scoring position however I can," he noted. "I try to be on base for the guys behind me."
Last season, Grossman averaged .294 for Class A Advanced Bradenton in 134 games with the Marauders. In his second go-round of the Florida State League, the 22-year-old got on base at a .418 rate, with nearly as many walks (104) as strikeouts (111). He also scored 127 runs.
His transition to Double-A got off to a rocky start, though, as he ended the first month of the year with a .195 average. Since then, he's slowly progressed, hitting .230 in May and .324 so far through 19 games in June. In all, the 2008 sixth-rounder is hitting .245 after Friday's effort.
"Definitely put in a lot of hard work, and it's finally coming to fruition and paying off," said Grossman. "The [bounces] are starting to fall my way, I'm putting some good swings on some pitches.
"Baseball's a tough game. You just have to go out there every night with a good approach. Sometimes it'll go your way and sometimes not, but if you go out there and have fun, that's the important thing."
On Friday, Oscar Tejeda also made his debut with Altoona after Pittsburgh claimed the 22-year-old from Boston off waivers Wednesday. Starting in left field, the Red Sox's former No. 14 prospect homered and scored twice.
No. 19 Pirates prospect Jarek Cunningham also went 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs. Phil Irwin (1-5) scattered one run on six hits without any walks, striking out six over seven innings to earn the win for the Curve.