Shaw seals River Cats' title with trifecta

San Francisco's No. 21 prospect plated career-high seven runs

Chris Shaw has clubbed 28 homers across two Minor League levels this season. (Stephen Smith/Four Seam Images via AP)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | August 30, 2019 2:54 AM

Chris Shaw probably won't be changing his walk-up music again any time soon.

Prior to Thursday's game, San Francisco's No. 21 prospect changed his walk-up song to ABBA's "Dancing Queen." He then pummeled three home runs, driving in a career-high seven runs, in Triple-A Sacramento's 10-2 win over the Aces at Raley Field. The victory secured the River Cats' Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division title.

Video: Shaw goes deep three times for Sacramento

"Oh yeah, that's the new walk-up," Shaw laughed after celebrating Sacramento's playoff berth and confirming he won't be changing it for the rest of the season. 

Batting cleanup, the 25-year-old wasted no time getting his first big fly on the board. After Giants No. 27 prospect  Abiatal Avelino and Jaylin Davis opened the bottom of the first inning with a pair of singles, Shaw strode to the plate with one out against Riley Smith. He worked a 2-1 count off the righty before barreling a homer to center field.

Two innings later, he connected on the first pitch he saw from Smith, barreling a two-run homer that extended Sacramento's lead to 6-0. 


Gameday box score


Shaw topped off the trifecta in the fifth against Smith. After getting into an early 0-2 hole, he fouled a pitch off and battled back to a 1-2 count. The fifth pitch of the at-bat resulted in a booming shot to right for another two-run homer, the first hat trick of his professional career and his first since his junior season at Boston College against Wake Forest. 

"That was one of the farthest balls I think I've ever hit," Shaw said. "I knew I got that one." 

The seven RBIs bested Shaw's previous career high of six, set this season on July 26 vs. Tacoma. Thursday's effort also served as the third three-homer game for Sacramento hitters this season -- and they've all come against Reno. Mac Williamson accomplished the feat on May 7 and Davis slugged a trio of round-trippers on Aug. 17.

2019 Minor League milestones

Thursday's cause for celebration -- both for his accolade and the River Cats' division title -- makes for a nice cap to the regular season for Shaw, who began the year in the Eastern League, even though he made his big league debut in 2018 and had 22 Major Leagues games under his belt. 

"It was an absolute shock to learn that I was starting the year in Double-A," he admitted. "But there's no guarantees in a lot of things in life, so I took it for what it was. I tried to remain as positive as possible and go down there and be a good teammate. I wanted to show the front office -- and myself as well -- that I am capable of these adjustments, and I'm a lot better than starting the year in Double-A."

After 45 games with Richmond, Shaw was promoted back up to Sacramento on May 30 for his third stint with the team. Since then, he's posted a .298 average and a .951 OPS, while clubbing 21 homers to boot. The journey wasn't easy and far from what Shaw envisioned coming into the season, but mentally, it made him a better player.

2019 MiLB include

"It gave me a chip on my shoulder," he said. "I really trusted myself. When you get an assignment like that ... if you're not your biggest supporter and biggest believer, then there's not a lot that's going to go right for you. I never stopped believing that I was a good hitter and a good player. I've kept that mind-set all year.

"Just this year on its own has taught me to stay in the moment. I've had so much go different than the way I thought it would've gone. The only way to stay sane and happy, really, is to stay in the present moment."

With champagne showers spraying in the clubhouse, it was difficult to be anything but happy Thursday night. And while a callup to San Francisco when rosters expand Saturday may be enticing, Shaw remains focused on where he is right now.

"I've got 35 guys in the Sacramento clubhouse that are my family," he said. "Being able to celebrate tonight with them was huge. I'm just thinking about playoffs right now and hopefully getting a ring. Going to San Francisco after would be icing on the cake."

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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