Kyle Kasser racked up 50 multi-hit games during his four-year career at the University of Oregon. That included a five-hit performance at Southern California on May 20, 2017. And 19 games into his professional career, the Royals infield prospect has already outdone himself.Kasser recorded the fourth six-hit game in Pioneer League
Kyle Kasser racked up 50 multi-hit games during his four-year career at the University of Oregon.
That included a five-hit performance at Southern California on May 20, 2017. And 19 games into his professional career, the Royals infield prospect has already outdone himself.
Kasser recorded the fourth six-hit game in Pioneer League history Wednesday, driving in four runs and scoring four times as Rookie-level Idaho Falls leveled Orem, 20-5, at Home of the OWLZ.
"Baseball's a crazy game," he said. "You can hit it hard and get out. You can barely hit it and get on. I mean, first couple times going up there getting hits, even though maybe I didn't deserve them, it's a good feeling. You can go up there the next couple of at-bats pretty relaxed and try not to think too much and let your work show, just play baseball and have fun. Obviously the ones I didn't hit as hard, those did help my confidence a little bit."
Gameday box score
With one out in the second inning, the 2018 30th-round pick drove in the Chukars' third run with a single through the right side. Kasser grounded an RBI single up the middle an inning later. In the fourth, the 22-year-old plated Hunter Strong while beating out an infield single to shortstop.
As the night progressed, Kasser kept up with his easygoing approach. He recorded his fourth hit in the fifth on another infield single to short, scoring on Nathan Eaton's knock three batters later. The 2017 first-team all-Pac-12 honoree reached rare air in the seventh with an RBI single through the left side.
Behind 0-2 in the count to Orem reliever Matt Eagle, Kasser led off the ninth with an opposite-field single to left. It marked the first six-hit game in Pioneer League play since July 16, 2004, when two players on achieved the milestone in the same game -- Sean Rodríguez for Missoula and Ryan Leahy for Provo.
"I had a little bit of luck," the 5-foot-10 prospect said. "The first couple, I didn't hit super hard, just found the right holes. I hit the last two fairly hard. I was going in there sitting 4-for-4 and I hadn't hit much hard. I was going up there just hoping to hit something hard. I ended up getting two more hits and hitting the ball hard. I couldn't be any happier."
Kasser doubled his previous career high of three hits, he'd previously tallied six multi-hit games in 18 outings this season. The career night upped his average to .360 with 13 RBIs. The shortstop enjoyed a productive career as a Duck, finishing fifth on the all-time hits list with 178 and third in on-base percentage at .395.
Entering Wednesday, Kasser felt like he was scuffling at the dish with two hits in his previous 12 at-bats. That led to extra work in the cage before the game with Chukars hitting coach Damon Hollins.
"It showed a little bit tonight," said the native of Brea, California. "I'm happy to see the work that I'm putting in is paying off a little bit."
Hitting is often considered contagious, and Idaho Falls did plenty of it against Orem. The team collected 23 hits total and Kasser credited his teammates for putting him in a position to succeed each time he strode to the plate.
"I probably wouldn't have had half the hits I had if I didn't have runners on and guys weren't putting together good at-bats before me," said the 2018 Senior CLASS Award Finalist. That honor is given to the student-athlete who exemplifies excellence in community, classroom, character and competition in his or her sport.
And as though six hits in one game wasn't special enough, Kasser's parents made the trip to Orem to watch their son, creating an everlasting memory for the family.
"They were very happy," he said. "They're so supportive and always there for me, good or bad. It was pretty cool to look up into the stands and see big smiles on both their faces and how happy they were to greet me [after the game]. Something I'll never forget for sure."
As a late-round Draft pick, Kasser knows he has a long road ahead if he wants to climb the ladder and achieve his dream of playing in the Majors. He said he will carry a chip on his shoulder the whole ride.
"You always got to get better because someone is always trying to come for your job," he said. "Right now, I'm trying to be the guy that's coming for somebody else's job."
Idaho Falls starter Kris Bubic (1-1) allowed two unearned runs on three hits while fanning a career-high 10 without a walk over five innings. The Royals' ninth-ranked prospect and 40th overall pick in June's Draft tossed 48 of his 70 pitches for strikes in his lengthiest outing of the season.
Kasser faced the Stanford product several times during their times as PAC-12 rivals. He's just happy to play behind him now.
"Seeing him pound the zone, being able to control four pitches, put it where he wants and getting ahead of batters, it's pretty easy to play defense," Kasser said. "His stuff is pretty electric and he's a very knowledgeable guy too. He knows how to pitch, which goes a long way along with his stuff."
Angels No. 7 prospectKevin Maitan doubled, walked and scored a run for Orem.
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.