Andrelton Simmons has quietly put together a very good season for the Class A Advanced Hillcats. On Monday, he made some noise.
The Braves' No. 9 prospect had three hits and drove in a career-high seven runs -- besting his previous high by five -- as Lynchburg defeated visiting Kinston, 11-6.
Simmons, a second-round pick of the Braves in 2010, didn't collect his first hit until the fourth inning, when he singled in a pair of runs and was thrown out at second base. He smacked a bases-loaded triple in the sixth and delivered a two-run single in the seventh as the Hillcats scored three in the sixth and seventh to erase a one-run deficit.
"I did the same thing I've been doing, seeing the ball and trusting that my hands are quick enough to hit the ball," Simmons said. "I've been working on it. I'm not perfect, but today it paid off."
Simmons, who also scored once, stole his 18th base for the Hillcats. The 21-year-old shortstop leads the Carolina League with 124 hits, is seventh with 26 doubles and ranks second with a .300 batting average. Simmons has enjoyed an especially productive second half with 13 of his 31 extra-base hits coming in 40 games after the All-Star Break.
"I'm just trying to be quicker with my hands and trying to swing hard," the Carolina League All-Star said. "I'm using my speed for extra bases."
The Western Oklahoma State College product had never plated more than two runs in a pro game before Monday, the last time July 31 against the Salem Red Sox. Simmons, the first Lynchburg player with seven RBIs since Pedro Alvarez on June 13, 2009, was unaware that he had racked up that many.
"I'm pretty happy, I didn't even realize it was seven, I thought it was four, I forgot about the first three," he said.
Batting in the second spot in the lineup isn't traditionally a place for run producers, but Simmons was quick to credit the the hitters ahead of him for getting on.
"I'm not surprised [at the opportunities] because everybody feels good at the plate. I got an at-bat at the right time," he said. "It just happens, the other guys were making good contact and I was in the right spot."
No Lynchburg player had driven in more than four runs all season.
Christian Bethancourt, the Braves' No. 4 prospect, was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and leadoff batter Todd Cunningham reached base four times and scored twice.
Andrew Wilson (2-3) allowed two hits and fanned five over three innings of relief to earn the win.