Brandon Downes put his foot down on Friday. The bat and ball listened.
The Royals' No. 14 prospect went 5-for-5 for his first career five-hit game, leading Class A Lexington to a 9-3 triumph over Savannah.
Downes fell a home run short of the cycle, collecting three doubles and a triple. His last hit, a double in the ninth inning, produced his only RBI of the game, although the 22-year-old outfielder also stole a base and scored twice.
"Basically, I've just been in a grind the beginning of the season and I've been working with my hitting coach [Damon Hollins] a lot," Downes said. "We made some changes. Tonight, I was able to stay on top of the fastball and put my foot down early. I was laying off the off-speed early and getting my pitch."
Mired in a 3-for-23 slump, Downes broke out with the first five-hit game of his career, professional or otherwise. The New Jersey native said he hopes it's a sign of good things to come.
"It was a pretty good feeling when I saw five hits. I was pretty excited because I've never done it before," he said. "It was pretty cool, it was pretty exciting.
"It's encouraging because three out of the five were hard-hit balls and the other two, one was a broken-bat single and the other got over the first baseman's head. It's encouraging with the three balls, the double and the triple, those were pretty hard."
While Downes had some difficulty initially with the changes he and Hollins implemented, Friday finally saw things fall into place for the 2014 seventh-round Draft pick.
"I guess it clicked or something, I was seeing pitches pretty well," Downes said. "I was just feeling comfortable. I was laying off pitcher's pitches and working the count to get my pitches. It felt nice to settle in."
Ryan O'Hearn slugged a two-run homer to start the scoring for the Legends and Wander Franco also had two RBIs.
Emilio Ogando improved to 2-1 after tossing four innings of two-hit relief for Lexington.
Stefan Sabol doubled twice for the Sand Gnats.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.