Most players, especially those in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, look to put some loft on the ball. Not Gil Velazquez.
The Marlins farmhand went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a career-high six RBIs on Monday night, leading the New Orleans Zephyrs to an 11-3 romp over the Memphis Redbirds.
Velazquez got off to a fast start, singling home Kevin Mattison in the first inning. After singling with the bases empty in the third and hitting into a fielder's choice in the fourth, the 32-year-old infielder smacked a three-run double in the fifth. He wrapped up his night with a two-run double in the seventh.
"I swung the bat instead of taking so many pitches; I was aggressive," Velazquez said. "Just I think I kind of hit a wall at some point and felt a little tired. Today, I felt good and my hands felt good and I was trying to hit the ball in the zone."
Not known for being a run-producer or a power hitter, Velazquez had 18 RBIs and seven extra-base hits in his first 63 games for the Zephyrs. The California native said he makes a concerted effort not to get wrapped up in the power game.
"I definitely want to stay out of the air. I try to stay out of the air as much as possible," Velazquez said. "When I'm hitting the ball through the infield, it's good."
Velazquez, a 1998 14th-round Draft pick by the Mets, had never had more than four RBIs in a game prior to Monday. Unaccustomed to being his team's source of offense, he was pleased with his breakout night.
"It feels good to help the team win," he said. "First time I ever did this. I think I'm excited about it."
Mattison, the Marlins' No. 11 prospect, reached base four times and scored three runs batting ahead of Velazquez.
"Every time he gets on base, it's nice to know you're going to get plenty of fastballs," Velazquez said. "He told me 'Good game;' I told him if it wasn't for him getting on base, I wouldn't have had the day I did. I give him credit."
New Orleans starter Brad Hand improved to 5-4 after allowing three runs on four hits while striking out 10 over seven innings.
Pete Kozma slugged a solo homer for the Redbirds, who have lost three of their last four games.