It was only moments before stepping to the plate in the seventh inning Friday that Elmer Reyes realized he was a single away from the cycle. When he slapped a ball toward the hole on the left side, he was confident he had it.
"I thought, 'I can beat this throw,'" Reyes said through Danville Braves pitching coach Gabe Luckert, who served as his translator. "'I can get this.'"
Reyes legged out an infield single, easily beating out the throw to record the first cycle in the Appalachian League since Bristol's Andrew Garcia accomplished the feat against Pulaski on Aug. 24, 2008. The Braves second base prospect drove in two runs and scored three times, including the go-ahead run, as Rookie-level Danville beat the Princeton Rays, 7-5.
"I feel very happy," Reyes said. "It's something I never thought about doing, even less so in professional baseball."
Reyes, 20, started his night with a double in the first, then hit his second homer of the season in the third. With Nick Ahmed on first in the fifth, he ripped an RBI triple to center field.
"I wasn't overthinking, like I usually do," Reyes said. "I was just taking a good pitch to hit, letting the ball get deep in the strike zone. I connected very well."
Reyes was unaware he was closing in on history until a teammate told him shortly before his fourth at-bat. After taking the count to 1-1, the native of Nicaragua hit the infield single to shortstop Jake Hager.
"It was a slow hopper through the hole," Luckert said. "The shortstop got the ball on the grass. Elmer beat the throw by probably a second."
Reyes came around to score the go-ahead run moments later when Brandon Drury homered to put the Braves up, 6-4.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2009, Reyes was named Danville's MVP last season after hitting .294 with 22 extra-base hits in 53 games. He got a taste of Class A Rome this year, but hit .178 in 61 games before returning to the Appy League.
Still, Reyes has his sights set high for the rest of the season.
"In my mind, I'm thinking not only of Rome but maybe another level and finishing the season in [Class A Advanced] Lynchburg," he said.
Reyes became the second Braves prospect to hit for the cycle this year. Shortstop Tyler Pastornicky -- Atlanta's No. 8 prospect -- recorded one for Double-A Mississippi on June 5.
Asked what he can do to top this performance, Reyes said he just wants to keep the same mind-set at the plate.
"Just trying to hit the ball hard like I did today," he added. "Keep the same approach, try to get a good pitch to hit and try to hit it hard."