Typically when a ballplayer -- and particularly a speedy one like Niko Goodrum -- sees the ball he has just struck jump over the outfield fence on a bounce or roll into it and get stuck, there's a lot of hands on hips and deep sighing. He feels like he may have just been robbed of a third base.
But of Saturday night's ground-rule double, Goodrum has different feelings. He actually quite likes it.
Needing a double to complete the cycle, the Twins prospect had no problem with being told to stay put at second after his eighth-inning lashing in Elizabethton's 6-4 win over the visiting Pulaski Mariners.
"We were behind. I was just trying to drive in a run. It just happened to be a ground-rule double," said Goodrum, a 2010 second-round Draft pick, after his best game as a pro. "It's just crazy how things work.
"It's kind of unreal. I was just trying to win the game."
Goodrum's is the Appalachian League's first cycle since Danville's Elmer Reyes accomplished the feat last Aug. 5 at Princeton.
The switch-hitting shortstop smacked a run-scoring standup triple in the first and singled on a bunt toward the mound in the third off M's right-handed starter Charles Kaalekahi. Turning around against left-hander Nick Valenza in the fifth, Goodrum smacked a two-run homer toward right field.
"First-pitch fastball a little high and outside. I got long [with my swing], so I choked up throughout the rest of the at-bat," Goodrum said. "Second pitch was another fastball outside. I stayed on the ball, didn't pull off, and hit it good to the opposite field."
Again batting from the left side with right-hander David Holman on the mound and two outs in the eighth, Goodrum stroked that RBI ground-rule double to cap a three-run, rally. He said his versatility at the plate against Pulaski's four pitchers played a role in his success.
"It came in handy to cut down the breaking pitches because they feed [opposite-side hitters] a lot of fastballs," he said. "I just put the swings on 'em today."
In fact, he's been doing that consistently, with four multi-hit games and a .333 batting average through 10 games this season. Over his last two contests -- he fell a homer shy of cycling on Thursday and got the day off Friday -- the Fayetteville, Ga., native is 7-for-10 with five extra-base hits and seven RBIs. And this is a player known more for his defensive abilities: Baseball America rated his as the strongest infield arm in the Twins system two years running.
Goodrum said he simplified his approach during the run-up to the start of the short-season league. Working with Minnesota's instructors at extended spring training, he didn't alter his mechanics physically but picked up "the mind-set of knowing what kind of hitter I am."
Only 20, he's looking like a good one. The four hits set a career high and the four RBIs matched the mark he set when he homered and tripled in Elizabethton's 9-0 win last Aug. 23 at Bristol. He batted .275 in 2011 and had two homers and 20 RBIs in 59 games. He already has two homers and 14 RBIs in a fraction of that time this year.
"This is a great start," he said. "I'm trying to stay consistent throughout the season and maintain what I'm doing."
Holman (0-2) yielded two runs on three hits over three innings out of the bullpen.
Twins reliever Mason Melotakis (1-1) tossed a scoreless eighth to pick up the win.