Steven Proscia needed something to go his way early Saturday if he had any hope of breaking out of a 4-for-26 slump that spanned six games. He worked with High Desert hitting coach Roy Howell on improving his pitch selection as well as using his hands to hit through the ball more.
In his first at-bat, it worked: He walked.
"Let me tell you, a walk was fine with me," Proscia said. "It gave me the extra confidence it would be a pretty good night for me."
It ended up being a much better night than that.
The Mariners prospect homered in each of his next three at-bats and drove in four runs to lead the Class A Advanced Mavericks to a wild 15-13 victory over the visiting Stockton Ports.
It was the second time this season Proscia has gone deep three times in a game. He also did it on April 19 and is the first Minor Leaguer with a pair of three-homer games in the same season since Corey Dickerson accomplished the feat last year for Class A Asheville.
Both of Proscia's big games came at Mavericks Stadium, where winds constantly blow out and create prime slugging conditions. Not surprisingly, High Desert leads the California League with 125 homers, 29 more than any other team.
Winds were blowing out to left -- where Proscia sent all three of his homers -- at 20 mph at game time. But the New York native said the conditions didn't play too much of a factor.
"The first two were line drives, but the third was more of a fly ball," he said. "It was definitely pretty windy, but I really feel like I hit those first two on the screws."
Proscia has enjoyed much better splits at home than on the road this season. Thirteen of his 15 homers have come at Mavericks Stadium, where his .374 average is more than 100 points higher than his .269 road mark.
"I really enjoy playing here," said the University of Virginia product. "I feel like I just see the ball really well whenever we're here. I don't know if it's the batter's eye or if the lighting is just much better, but I pick up pitches better here.
"I don't try to do too much at home. I just come to the ballpark and feel comfortable, and that's something I try to do everywhere."
In the third inning, Proscia ripped a two-run homer off a changeup from Ports starter Jacob Brown. An inning later, he connected for a solo shot on a breaking ball from reliever A. J. Huttenlocker. And in the fifth, he deposited Huttenlocker's fastball over the left-field fence.
"Three different pitches," Proscia noted.
That was a particular point of pride because a May promotion to Double-A Jackson didn't go well. He hit .211 with four homers and nine RBIs in 21 Southern League games, primarily because of the 22-year-old third baseman's inability to pick up on the wide array of pitches he was seeing at his new level.
"Basically, they stressed working on pitch selection," Proscia said. "It's something I have to continue to work on, and I do work on quite a bit. They said once I got back down, it'd be a good opportunity to strengthen that part of my game."
So after going through some struggles at High Desert and Jackson, Proscia characterized his latest three-homer night as "definitely different from the first time." But that wasn't the only reason. After that night in April, his Mavericks teammates called him "Curtis" after Yankees All-Star Curtis Granderson, who'd homered three times earlier in the day. That wasn't the case Saturday.
"That's a funny story," Proscia said. "I'm still in one of my teammate's phonebooks as 'Curtis' because of that nickname. We were all just joking around then, but there were no nicknames this time. It was just me."
James Jones, Jack Marder and Dennis Raben also went deep for the Mavs, who have won five of their last six games after losing five straight.
Ports shortstop Michael Gilmartin went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and five RBIs.