Ryan Grotjohn played 23 games at three different levels by June 13. Now, consistency is the name of his game.
The Arizona prospect extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his best performance of the season, going 4-for-5 with a home run, double, and three RBIs as Class A Kane County thumped Peoria, 11-2, on Tuesday afternoon.
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"It's so much different," Grotjohn said. "It's a lot better. It's hard bouncing around different teams. You're traveling, flying all over the place with new players, new coaches. It's nice being able to sit back and enjoy being with one team and get in a rhythm. It's hard to get in that rhythm when you're moving around all over the place."
Grotjohn returned to Kane County on June 14 after stops there to begin the year, with Class A Advanced Visalia in late May and early June and a one-game cameo with Double-A Jackson in May in addition to a stint at extended spring training. Since moving back to the Midwest League, he's finally been able to hit his stride.
Tuesday started fast for the Cal State Bakersfield product. With two aboard in the top of the first, Grotjohn connected on his first homer of the year for the Cougars, staking his club to an early lead.
"It was two outs, runners at first and second, and I was just trying to put a line drive maybe through the middle and hopefully get that run in," he said. "He kind of put the fastball down the middle and my timing was on."
The blast to right-center set the tone for Grotjohn's first career four-hit day. The outfielder doubled to right field in the third inning, led off with a single to center in the fifth and finished his day with a single to right in the eighth.
"It just felt good," he said. "I just felt like I was trying to be smooth, not trying to do too much or get too big. I kind of get a little tendency to get a little big on some pitches, and I'll foul them off or pop up or something. I just tried to stay smooth. We actually did a show-and-go today. We didn't hit in the cages or anything. My first swing of the day was the home run, so I just tried to not do too much, just play easy and smooth."
Grotjohn has multiple hits in three straight games and four of his last five. Of his 10-game streak, the last nine have been with Kane County in his first appearances in the Midwest League since April 29. On May 3, the 23-year-old went 1-for-3 in a brief call to Double-A before posting a .147/.194/.235 slash line in nine Class A Advanced contests. That experience has been beneficial.
"I think it just helped seeing that kind of pitching, seeing the different types of velocity," he said of seeing arms at higher levels. "Their offspeed pitches are obviously better, too. It's nice just seeing that and getting a feel for that, seeing how I played against those players and then translating it back here. I think it helps with plate vision and timing and understanding the different tendencies pitchers have."
The hectic travel schedule didn't just give Grotjohn information on how to succeed short-term but provided him with perspective on what it takes to make those climbs for good.
"I noticed that when I went to Double-A, those guys are there because they're so consistent," he said. "That's when it changes, consistency with defense or hitting or pitching-wise. Just trying to be consistent every day. Maybe if I get one hit a day, some days you're not going to get a hit, but ry to at least get a hit a day and stay with that consistency with my swing, staying short and quick, not trying to do too much. I'm just trying to be myself and whatever happens, happens."
Kane County's 19 hits set a new season high, and eight Cougars registered at least one. Catcher Tim Susnara matched Grotjohn's game-high four knocks, doubling three times.