Michael Choice is no mad scientist. But his experiments have produced a breakthrough.
The former first-round Draft pick went yard for the fifth straight game Wednesday as the Class A Advanced Stockton Ports slugged five homers in a 13-6 romp over the High Desert Mavericks.
Choice, selected 10th overall by the A's in last year's Draft, kept the streak going with a three-run blast in the fourth inning.
"It was a pretty long at-bat," he said. "[Yoervis Medina] was mixing up pitches on me and I was trying to battle and just put something in play. He hung a breaking pitch and I just hit it."
Choice has been doing a lot of that since the California League took three days off last month for the All-Star break. With three more hits Wednesday, he raised his average to .388 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 14 games since the break.
"I'm just working with our hitting coach, Brian McArn, and finding ways to stride to the ball and stay within my legs," Choice said. "I've finally gotten a little comfortable with what I've been experimenting with."
The A's No. 3 prospect has 22 homers to share the league lead with Lancaster's Kody Hinze. He also ranks fourth with 43 extra-base hits, 174 total bases and 45 walks.
"When guys get on, I just need to drive them in and not try to do too much and overthink things," Choice said.
Overall, the University of Texas-Arlington product is batting .272 and leads the Ports with 62 RBIs. He showed impressive power in his professional debut last summer, homering seven times in 27 games for short-season Vancouver. Promoted to Class A Kane County, he went deep twice in three Midwest League playoff games.
And despite his strong play of late, he's not concerned about another promotion.
"I don't think about things like that," Choice said. "If it happens, it happens. My job is to get better at whatever level I'm at."
Michael Gilmartin homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs for the Ports, who have won 21 of their last 22 games. The 23-year-old second baseman went 4-for-6 with three runs scored and is batting .600 (9-for-15) with eight RBIs in his last three contests.
"His play has been huge," Choice said of Stockton's leadoff hitter. "He's the guy who sets the tone for us. He squares up a few balls and he gets the team rolling."
Dusty Coleman and Leonardo Gil also went deep for Stockton, which already has a six-game lead atop the North Division second-half standings. Robert Gilliam (10-4) became the league's first 10-game winner, despite allowing six runs on 10 hits while fanning seven over six innings.