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Thaiss rakes in Midwest League debut

Angels first-round pick collects three hits, drives in two runs
July 10, 2016

Matt Thaiss likes to send a message when he has a chance to make a first impression on the field. He homered and drove in four runs in his professional debut last month and impressed again on Saturday night.

The Angels' first-round pick doubled twice, singled and drove in two runs in his Midwest League debut, but Class A Burlington dropped a 9-8, 10-inning decision to Beloit at Pohlman Field.

"It's definitely good to get started on the right foot," Thaiss said. "I try to set a good impression. It's a new team, just like it was in Orem. To show up, not only day one but every day, sends a good message.

"I felt good at the plate. I tried to keep it simple and not change anything that I did the last couple of weeks out in Orem. My game plan today, it was a long day, so I was just trying to keep everything simple and get quality passes."

Batting second, Thaiss drove in Michael Hermosillo with a double to right field in the first inning. He doubled to right to score Hermosillo again in the second, then singled to center in the fourth. He also doubled in a run in his first professional at-bat for Rookie-level Orem.

"The first at-bat, I saw a fastball and then I was a little out in front of the changeup. Luckily, it got down the line," the 21-year-old shortstop said. "In my second at-bat, I got another changeup first pitch and I was ready to get it."

Thaiss slashed .338/.394/.569 with two homers and 12 RBIs, striking out four times in 65 at-bats in 15 Pioneer League games.

The New Jersey native is a product of the University of Virginia, where he was named a second-team All-American as a catcher after he batting .375 with 10 homers as a junior. He was drafted and converted to first base and has since worked on developing a steady routine that allows him to be better prepared defensively.

"What I did at [Virginia] during pregame from an offensive standpoint, there's been some consistency there," Thaiss said. "As far as defensively, it's just learning new things and finding what works for you and what you want to do before the game to get ready.

"How Virginia prepared me and prepares all of its players with the program they run and the things they expect out of you every day, I see the same things here in pro ball, the same philosophies. It's developing a routine, developing a daily thing that whether it's offensively or defensively or mentally that will get you prepared for a game every day. It's not college, where it's three or four games a week. So I think the routine is the biggest part. You have to be ready to go."

Promoted with Thaiss, Angels seventh-round pick Jordan Zimmerman also made his Midwest League debut but went 0-for-5 with a walk and a run scored. Hermosillo collected three hits, including an RBI double in the second inning.

Bees starter Austin Robichaux surrendered seven runs -- six earned -- on eight hits and four walks and a strikeout in three innings. Eric Karch (0-4) took the loss after giving up a run on four hits and a walk over the final 3 2/3 frames.

A's No. 17 prospect Skye Bolt doubled and drove in three runs for the Snappers, while Trent Gilbert went 3-for-6 and scored twice. Ryan Howell enabled Beloit to walk off with the win when he singled home Gilbert with two outs in the 10th.

Mack Burke is a contributor with Follow him on Twitter @macburke18_MiLB