When Kyle Skipworth stepped to the plate for his final at-bat Saturday night, he didn't know he needed a triple to complete the cycle. And once he made contact with the ball, the last thing he was thinking about was third base.
"It was kind of a weird play," Skipworth said. "I didn't know if the guy caught it or if it was a ground-rule double."
The Marlins' No. 15 prospect made it to third for his first triple in more than a year, completing a 4-for-4, six-RBI effort as the Double-A Jacksonville Suns outslugged the Chattanooga Lookouts, 13-10.
The cycle was the fourth in the Minor Leagues this season, with all four coming in the past five days.
Skipworth had been mired in a 3-for-30 slump and had recorded just one extra-base hit in May. But he raised his average 24 points to .206 with the four-hit performance.
"Today, I had a great game, but we had a ton of guys that had really good games," Skipworth said. "Hopefully, tomorrow, we'll be able to keep it rolling."
The 22-year-old catcher belted a ground-rule double in the first inning, lifted a sacrifice fly in the second, then lined an RBI single to right field in the fourth. With one out and the bases loaded in the fifth, Skipworth connected for a grand slam off reliever Bret Montgomery to extend the Suns' lead to 13-5.
"It was a new reliever, a guy who just got called up," Skipworth said. "He walked [Shawn] Bowman on four straight pitches, so I went up there taking a strike. He threw a first-pitch pitch changeup for a strike, 0-1. I told myself the first elevated pitch that's driveable, take a swing. A fastball was up in the zone, I put a good swing on it and got a good backspin line drive to center."
That set the scene for Skipworth's final at-bat with two outs in the seventh. Although he'd hit only four triples in his career -- with the last one coming on April 22, 2011 -- he came through with the three-bagger he needed to complete the cycle.
"It was a ball to right. [Brahiam Maldonado] really got a good bead on it," Skipworth said. "Coming out of the box, I knew I hit it good but thought this guy might catch it. In Chattanooga, it's really tough to pick up the ball off the fence. When I hit it and [Maldonado] jumped, I didn't know if he caught it or not until it bounced up. And then I didn't know if it bounced up or over the wall. I kind of paused at second and then just kept going."
"Our manager came up and asked me, 'You got a single and a double, right? You hit for the cycle.' It was a pleasant surprise. I honestly had no idea that I needed [the triple]."
Skipworth, selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2008 Draft, is playing in Jacksonville for the second straight season after batting .207 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 106 games. The California native put together better offensive numbers in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .283 with two homers and eight RBIs in 16 games.
Skipworth has six roundtrippers and 23 RBIs in 40 games this season. He got two days off before Saturday as an opportunity to "hit the reset button," during which time he brought his swing back to the basics.
"I was really just throwing mechanics out the window and hitting," Skipworth said. "Just seeing it, hitting it; getting in the cage and just swinging. Just hitting whatever the pitch was -- middle, going up the middle; in, pulling it; away, going the other way. Not thinking about where your hands are or getting the foot down in time. It was almost just being like a kid, hitting as it's pitched."
Skipworth wants to continue to take that simplified approach to the plate. After all, it worked out well on Saturday.
"I think after these two days off that I had, my goal is just to simplify things," he said. "To not overanalyze situations and try to be a natural, instinctive hitter. Not be thinking too much. That's my goal for the rest of the year, and to give myself opportunities to help the team win."
Danny Black went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot, while Jake Smolinski collected two singles, two RBIs and three runs scored for the Suns.
Travis Denker paced the Lookouts by going 4-for-5 with a homer, two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored.