O'Banion bashes two homers for Spokane

Rangers prospect swats grand slam, plates career-high six

Austin O'Banion had two homers in 51 Minor League games before Saturday. (Spokane Indians)

By Gerard Gilberto / MiLB.com | July 23, 2017 2:01 AM

Over the course of a week, Austin O'Banion wavered in his handling of his retooled mechanics at the plate. The slugger for Class A Short Season Spokane got a good grip on things Saturday night.

The Rangers' outfield prospect belted a grand slam and added a two-run shot for a career-best six RBIs in the Indians' 11-4 victory over Hillsboro at Ron Tonkin Field. It was the first career multi-homer game for the 2016 37th-round pick, who also had singled.


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O'Banion worked out some mechanical adjustments with hitting coach Chase Lambin before going 3-for-4 Sunday against Salem-Keizer. The 22-year-old fell into a funk after that by going 1-for-7 in three games before Saturday. 

"I kind of changed my stance a little bit. I got wider with my legs and kind of crouched down a little bit more, and I'm just trying to hit the ball right back through the middle of the field," O'Banion said. "That's kind of helped me stay on breaking pitches a little bit longer so that I can have a better extension through the ball and make more contact that way."

Video: O'Banion delivers two-run homer for Spokane

The Cal State Fullerton product is hitting .236 with three homers, 12 RBIs and 10 runs scored in 18 games for the Indians. 

With two outs in the first inning, O'Banion smacked the first pitch from Riley Smith into right field but was stranded at first base.

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Following Melvin Novoa's two-out single to right in the third, the Yorba Linda, California, native took a ball and belted the second pitch from Smith over the left-field fence for his first dinger of the contest.

"I was kind of expecting him to come with a fastball right after that and he did," O'Banion said. "I was sitting dead-red and put a good swing on it."

Video: Spokane's O'Banion homers in grand fashion

With one out in the third, Miguel Aparicio singled to left to score Kobie Taylor, who led off with a triple. Tyler Ratliff drew a walk and Novoa was hit by a pitch to set the stage for O'Banion. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound slugger saw a healthy dose of sliders before catching hold of another breaking ball from Smith and sending it over the fence in left.

"He left one up and I drove it," O'Banion said. "It's always a good feeling, already being 2-for-2, especially with a home run. So my swing felt really good and I was seeing the pitches well and it worked out for me."

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O'Banion struck out in the sixth and flied out to center in the eighth.

Curtis Terry contributed a three-run homer and an RBI double, while Matt Whatley collected three singles and scored twice for Spokane.  

The loss ended Hillsboro's seven-game winning streak and prevented the Hops from clinching the Northwest League South Division first-half tile..

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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