On the second-to-last day of June, Miguel Sano's batting average dipped to a season-low .236 after an 0-for-4 performance.
The Twins' heralded international signee out of the Dominican Republic hit .216 that month, his first real speed bump since debuting in American pro ball in 2010. The two ensuing months have been spent learning from those struggles, and his game Sunday gave the clearest signal yet he's accomplished just that.
Minnesota's top prospect went 4-for-6, his first four-hit game since April 20, with a home run, two doubles and three RBIs along with his eighth stolen base as Class A Beloit fell in 13 innings to Cedar Rapids, 9-8.
Sano might be in the midst of the best month of his professional career. The third baseman is hitting .326 in 23 games this month, with a 1.080 OPS, seven home runs and 21 RBIs as he's emerged from his June troubles with a strong run since the All-Star break.
"[The slump] was pretty important for me in being able to grow as a player," Sano said through translator Tim Shibuya, who pitches for the Snappers. "I learned to take what you learn in each game and go and apply it to the next game. That month helped me grow to become a more complete player."
The 19-year-old, who was a Midwest League All-Star, has hit .294 with a .412 on-base percentage and .569 slugging percentage since the break, all large improvements on his first-half numbers.
That includes batting .276 with a season-high .426 OBP in July before his big breakout this month. The resurgence has brought his overall numbers back in line with the production he expects of himself.
MLB.com's No. 18 prospect is hitting .262 with a .378 OBP, a .525 slugging mark, a league-leading 27 home runs and 97 RBIs. His .903 OPS for the season ranks second on the circuit.
"Working every day with [manager Nelson] Prada and [hitting coach Tommy] Watkins, on little individual things are helping me get better," Sano noted. "Applying those small details is leading to in-game results and working out for me."
Sano added he is pleased to have picked up his production with the playoffs around the corner. Beloit clinched a spot with a 39-31 first half.
"I'm really happy being able to play every day, being a part of a team that's been winning and has a playoff spot. It's been fun to be able to play all year," he said. "I've been happy with how the year went [overall]. There was a lot of hard work, I'm trying to learn every day to become a more complete player and to compete as I move up the ladder."
On Sunday, the Snappers took a lead in the top of the 13th when Stephen Wickens hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Nate Roberts. The Kernels responded, though, on Drew Martinez's RBI single and Alex Yarbrough's walk-off single to center.
Wickens homered and collected three RBIs and Kennys Vargas also went yard in the loss for Beloit.