Andrew Knizner has two Major League stints under his belt this season. He's learned plenty on the field. But it's what he's learned off of it that's had the biggest impact on his game.
On Friday, the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect racked up his best game since returning to the Pacific Coast League. He swatted a pair of solo homers while going 4-for-4 with three runs scored as Triple-A Memphis rolled to a 9-1 victory over Omaha. He fell a triple short of the cycle.
Video: Memphis' Knizner lofts second big fly
For the 24-year-old, some fine-tuning and preparation is all that was necessary.
"The main thing I learned -- and I learned a lot -- is my routine before the game," Knizner said of his time in the Majors. "Playing in the big leagues, there's a lot more in-depth scouting reports, a lot of video to watch. When I first went up there, I wasn't overwhelmed with all of the information, but I didn't know how to break it down.
"My second time through, I had a better idea of how I wanted to prepare," he added. "Once I nailed that down, I was able to be better with time management before the game. I think I did a pretty job of getting a routine that works for me."
Knizner made his Major League debut on June 2 and was brought back for a second stint on July 11. He spent four weeks with the Cardinals before being optioned to Memphis, where he homered in his second game back. He had six RBIs in seven games heading into Friday's contest before recording his first four-hit effort at the Triple-A level.
Gameday box score
"Any time you get four hits in a game, it's pretty special," he said. "I'm pretty happy, moreso with the process of how I got those four hits. I made a few adjustments two days ago and figured some stuff out with my mechanics and swing. It's nice to go out there and see that extra work pay off."
The changes Knizner made won't show up on film, but he can feel them in the batter's box.
"I did some fine-tuning with my setup and my stance," he explained. "I wanted my lead arm up a little bit higher across my chest, so I'm able to turn on the plane of the pitch a little more efficiently."
Since making that change, Knizner is 6-for-8 with three homers and four RBIs. Friday showed the most improvement.
Batting seventh, the backstop laced a payoff pitch from Storm Chasers starter Heath Fillmyer for a one-out single to right field in the second inning. Facing reliever Ofreidy Gomez in the fourth, he pounced on a 1-1 offering and sent it over the left-field fence to extend the Redbirds' lead to 3-0.
He did it again in his next at-bat. With one out, the 2016 seventh-round pick ripped southpaw Jonathan Dziedzic's 1-1 changeup to left-center, just out of the reach of a leaping Xavier Fernandez and into the Memphis bullpen for another solo shot.
"A lot of hitting is paying attention to what the pitcher does to other guys and trying to figure out patterns with the catcher," Knizner said. "You try to dissect and figure out how he's going to attack you. I had a pretty good idea what was going to come."
Knizner capped the night with a double off Bryan Brickhouse in the eighth and scored on a single by Max Schrock. It was his first four-hit night since June 23, 2018 with Double-A Springfield.
2019 MiLB include
Since returning to the Redbirds on Aug. 16, Knizner has gone 9-for-31 (.290) and has struck out just five times. He is on the Cardinals 40-man roster, so the possibility of another call-up when rosters expand next month isn't out of the question. But he isn't worried about that. Instead, he's focused on development.
"My mind-set stays pretty even over the course of the season, no matter where I'm playing," he said. "A lot of that isn't in my control -- moving up, moving down. I try to keep my mind where my feet are at and grow where I'm planted. Whether it's in St. Louis or Triple-A, my goal stays the same of trying to become a better baseball player every day."