Wiel wields mighty bat in Red Wings opener

Twins outfielder ties career high with seven RBIs, two long balls

Zander Wiel entered the night with 59 runs scored, fourth-most in the International League. (Joe Territo/MiLB.com)

By Duane Cross / MiLB.com | July 11, 2019 9:38 PM

The International League's midseason break was just what Zander Wiel needed to etch his name into Red Wings lore Thursday.

In the circuit's return after the Triple-A All-Star Game, the Minnesota prospect went 4-for-4 with two homers, seven RBIs and three runs as Rochester thumped Lehigh Valley, 13-5, in the first game of a doubleheader at Frontier Field.

Video: Rochester's Wiel goes yard again

It marked the first time a Red Wings player notched seven RBIs in a game since Justin Morneau on April 12, 2004. Wiel previously racked up a seven-RBI game on Sept. 5, 2016, with Class A Cedar Rapids.

"Maybe it was a little bit of getting the bat on the right plane, fresh hands, seeing the ball all right and taking advantage of a few opportunities," he said. "More than anything, getting seven RBIs or having a big RBI night is a good job by the other guys in the lineup. They're getting on base and it's a case of doing some damage."

The 2015 12th-round Draft pick roped a double to center in the first inning off sixth-ranked Phillies prospect Enyel De Los Santos, plating No. 11 Twins prospect Nick Gordon and Wilin Rosario. Wiel then scored on a two-run homer by Ronald Torreyes as the Red Wings took a 5-1 lead.

Game 1 box score | Game 2 box score

With two outs in the second, the 26-year-old outfielder hammered the right-hander's 2-1 offering over the center-field wall, scoring Drew Maggi and Rosario to push Rochester's lead to 8-1.

In the fourth, Wiel doubled to left with two outs, but was left stranded.

Facing righty Josh Martin in the sixth, the Vanderbilt product smacked his second long ball -- his 15th of the year -- to drive in Rosario and cap the Red Wings' scoring. The performance was Wiel's first game with four extra-base hits and the sixth time with four base knocks in a contest.

"Whenever you're doing well, getting some confidence from at-bat to at-bat, it's a matter of staying within yourself," he said. "When you're having success early in the game, staying calm and trying not to do too much is important. You're looking to find good pitches and put a good swing on the ball."

Torreyes went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers, four RBIs and three runs scored. Rosario chipped in three hits and scored three times in Rochester's 15-hit effort.

"You get a couple guys going, especially early in the game, and it raises the energy in the dugout," Wiel said. "They say hitting is contagious, and you don't want to be the guy to stop the train from rolling. Tonight, we got some special things going."

Rochester reliever Carlos Torres (3-1) allowed two runs on three hits and three walks in three innings. The righty whiffed three.

2019 MiLB include

Third-ranked Phillies prospect Adam Haseley went 2-for-3 with his second homer with Lehigh Valley and 10th overall this season.

De Los Santos (3-4) lasted four frames, yielding nine runs -- five earned -- on 10 hits while whiffing four.

Torreyes homered again, his career-high eighth of the season, but Lehigh Valley avoided a sweep with a 5-4 victory in the nightcap. Austin Listi plated two runs and scored twice and Nick Williams added two RBIs and a run for the IronPigs. Fernando Salas (1-0) struck out two in an inning of relief for the win. Chase De Jong (0-5) gave up five runs on five hits and a walk in three frames.

Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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