They say pressure makes diamonds. But self-induced pressure can be detrimental.
Just ask Ronnie Dawson.
The Astros prospect and 2016 second-round pick is finding success in the Texas League after a rough start to his Minor League. On Saturday, he drove in all five runs, delivering a walk-off double in the 10th inning that gave Double-A Corpus Christi a 5-4 win over San Antonio at Whataburger Field. The five RBIs matched hiscareer high.
Video: Hooks' Dawson wins it
"For me, I'm not going to say my numbers haven't shown, but as I thought coming out of college, getting drafted in the second round, it was in my head: this is going to be easy. But in reality, it really checked me," Dawson said.
"I know at first I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the man. These guys invested all this money and time in me and I was wanting to do well right away and I kind of lost myself. ... The hype isn't quite as big as me as when I first went out, so I can kind of relax and just play my game and do the stuff that I'm good at and just keep learning and keep developing to have a long career in the big leagues. It doesn't really matter what I do in the Minor Leagues in my opinion, this is all development and at the end of the day, I want to be ready when I get the call."
The Ohio State product hasn't put up eye-popping numbers at any of his stops in the Minors, but the Astros still trusted him to make the jump to Double-A on July 30 and he's hitting .268 with an .879 OPS in 21 games with the Hooks.
Gameday box score
"To me, it's just baseball, man," Dawson said. "I've competed against a lot of these guys in the lower levels, so to me it's just competing and trying to get better each day and stay more consistent. That's our biggest battle. Not worrying about what other guys are doing, just focusing on my craft and working with the coaches, and that's been the biggest thing. Our hitting coach [Troy Snitker] has actually been so helpful to me ... that's most of the reason that the transition's been so easy for me."
There were trying times with Class A Advanced Buies Creek this season -- he hit .247/.331/.398 before his promotion --- where Dawson didn't care about his struggles at the plate and focused solely on his defense. He believes those shortcomings made him a better player overall.
"I came up and I actually start to care about hitting again," Dawson said. "But I'm more grateful for the struggles I went through because I'm a way better player because of it. If I would have gotten it right away, I wouldn't have worked as hard or learned as much. The struggle aspect of my last couple of seasons is the reason why this stuff is happening now."
Dawson batted .331 with 13 homers, three triples, 25 doubles, 51 RBIs and 43 strikeouts in 257 at-bats in 2016 for the Buckeyes and was named MVP of the Big Ten Tournament. He was a two-sport star at Licking Heights High School in Grove City, Ohio, but a promising football career was derailed by knee injuries. As a junior and senior in high school, Dawson was the bat boy for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.
The left-handed hitter plated his first run by grounding into a forceout in the third, then hammered a three-run homer to right-center in the fifth off Missions' starter, Lake Bachar. He won the game with an RBI double to right-center in the 10th against Jason Jester (2-3).
"We had guys on base in big situations," Dawson said. "If it wasn't for them, it'd be nothing. My hits doesn't matter."
After Dawson's three-run homer in the fifth put Corpus Christi up, 4-3, Padres No. 25 prospect Austin Allen tied the game in the ninth with his second RBI double of the game.
Ronel Blanco (2-0) got the win, striking out two in a scoreless inning.