Eric Filia often makes his teammates chuckle. And it's not because of his hilarious quips or the rhythmic shimmy he does every time he digs his heals into the batter's box.
"It's interesting because guys that have played with him before tell me they laugh when he's up there," Arkansas hitting coach Roy Howell said. "He battles, this that and this thing and then lines a base hit someplace and they just start laughing and say, 'That's him."
The Mariners' 15th-ranked prospect went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles and five RBIs in his third game of the season, but Double-A Arkansas dropped a 13-12 slugfest to Frisco on Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Gameday box score
After flicking an RBI single to right field in his first at-bat and singling to left in each of his next two trips to the plate, Filia thumped a two-run double in the sixth inning that tied the game, 8-8. He launched another two-run double off the wall in left in the seventh to cap a four-run outburst and give the Travelers a 12-9 lead.
The UCLA product tied career highs for hits -- he also went 5-for-5 for Class A Short Season Everett on Aug. 28, 2016 -- and RBIs while pushing his batting average to .615.
Video: Travelers' Filia plates pair with second 2B of game
Filia missed the first portion of the season after violating terms of the Minor League joint drug prevention and treatment program, an announcement that followed his strong campaign in the AFL, where he won the batting title with a .408 average. He also led the league with a .483 on-base percentage and ranked second with a .608 slugging percentage, earning a spot on MLB.com's AFL Top Prospects team.
The 2016 20th-round pick has produced at every step of his career. He hit .326 with a .841 OPS last season with Class A Advanced Modesto and posted a .333 average with three homers, a double and five RBIs in the Nuts' unbeaten run through the California League playoffs. In his debut season, Filia was named a Northwest League All-Star after leading the circuit in batting (.362), RBIs (46) and on-base percentage (.450).
Howell waited patiently for Filia's reinstatement, hearing glowing reviews about his mature approach at the plate from his stops in Everett and Modesto. And the Huntington Beach, California, native has not disapointed.
"Firsthand, when you get to watch him approach his at-bats from the beginning, he's focused," Howell said. "He has his routine and he does his stuff pregame and when he gets in the game, he has his routine there.
"You're not going to waver his game plan, and if you're going to hit in our league and from here on up, you better have a game plan and you better stick with it because you can't be doing one thing and do another thing on the next pitch. He stays with his game plan and it works for him."
Filia's routine this season features an even more pronounced shimmy that Howell, who played in the big leagues from 1974-84, doesn't mind one bit -- as long as he keeps raking, of course.
"It's all good," Howell said. "As a player, I don't care what you do as long as you whack the ball and put it in play the way he does. I don't care if he did a cartwheel going up there."
With the 25-year-old lauded for his maturity, could he rise up to Triple-A -- and if all goes well, the Major Leagues -- this season? Howell won't jump to that type of conclusion, but he pointed out that Filia is trending that way.
And not because of his numbers, because of his consistency.
"That's hard to say," Howell said. "You have early success and you see what happens. And the bottom line is, if he's consistent, that will happen. In our business, you play at the next level and stay at the next level with your consistency. When you go on from there to the big leagues and the manager writes your name in the lineup he knows what he'll get -- that's consistency.
"Can he do those things? I think he can. How fast can that happen? Well, we're just a little early on that at this point."
Frisco charged back in the bottom of the seventh. Hunter Cole capped a four-hit night with an RBI single, Preston Beck followed with a run-scoring double and two runs scored on a wild pitch and an error by reliever Matt Walker.
Carlos Garay was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Rangers No. 26 prospect Josh Morgan contributed three hits, including his first Double-A homer, and two RBIs for the RoughRiders. Frisco totaled a season-high 19 hits.
Mariners No. 5 prospect Braden Bishop was 3-for-6 with two runs scored and 28th-ranked Chuck Taylor plated two runs while going 2-for-4 for the Travelers.