In all his days playing baseball, Christian Yelich had never seen it happen before. Then it happened to him.
Two days before Spring Training was set to conclude last month, the Marlins' No. 1 prospect was standing in the on-deck circle when a teammate, swinging and whiffing on a changeup, lost control of his bat. It sailed directly into Yelich's right elbow, resulting in a deep bruise.
"If I was three feet to the left or the right, it would have missed me," said Yelich, who missed the season's first week as a result. "[Im]perfect place, [im]perfect time."
The 23rd overall pick in the 2010 Draft doesn't appear to be letting a little bad luck get him down. Batting third and playing center field for Class A Advanced Jupiter in Saturday's doubleheader, he went 4-for-7 with a walk, homering, tripling, doubling and singling.
The Hammerheads dropped the opener to Charlotte, 3-2, but Yelich lifted a 1-0 fastball -- "middle, away," he said -- from Stone Crabs starter Braulio Lara into the left-field seats.
"I was just looking for a good pitch. I didn't miss it," Yelich said. "Good to get the first one out of the way, then I can just relax. It's always good to get off to a good start."
Lara yielded two runs on four hits over 4 2/3 frames, walking four and striking out five. Jupiter counterpart Grant Dayton (0-3) allowed three unearned runs on two hits over four innings.
In the nightcap, a 7-3 Hammerheads victory, Yelich tripled off right-handed starter Wilking Rodriguez and doubled off of left-handed reliever C.J. Riefenhauser.
Rodriguez (0-2) gave up six runs on five hits, including Isaac Galloway's two-run homer in the fourth, over four innings. Jupiter's Edgar Olmos also lasted four frames and allowed three runs on six hits.
Yelich is batting .474 (9-for-19) with five extra-base hits and seven walks in six games. He said he was particularly impressed with his early success against southpaws, Lara and Riefenhauser included.
"I hit righties really well; I hit lefties just alright," said Yelich, who entered 2012 with a .346 average (119-for-344) against righties and a .256 mark when facing lefties in his brief career. "I'm trying to slow things down and not try to do much."
The 20-year-old Thousand Oaks, Calif., native is not unfamiliar to big games. He collected 48 extra-base hits and 77 RBIs in 122 games at Class A Greensboro last season, then delivered a walk-off homer in Game 1 of the South Atlantic League semifinals. What does he hope to achieve this year?
"The ball doesn't travel as well in this league, but I just want to play well," he said. "We'll see where I stand after 140 games."