McWilliams drives in seven in Raptors' rout

Dodgers prospect belts pair of homers en route to career night

Sam McWilliams shares the Pioneer League lead with nine extra-base hits and ranks second with 35 total bases. (Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | June 29, 2019 11:59 PM

In one night, Sam McWilliams doubled his RBI total for the season -- and then some.

The Dodgers prospect racked up his first multi-homer game as a Minor Leaguer and drove in a career-high seven runs, powering Rookie Advanced Ogden to a 19-8 triumph over Grand Junction on Saturday night at Suplizio Field. McWilliams also walked twice and scored four times.

Video: McWilliams cranks a three-run homer in second straight at-bat

McWilliams grounded out in his first at-bat, but worked a bases-loaded walk and scored in a nine-run second inning. He grounded into a fielder's choice in the third and scored one pitch later on a two-run double by Joe Vranesh

The 21-year-old walked again in the fifth, leaving his biggest at-bats for last. With two on and nobody out in the seventh, McWilliams yanked a 2-2 pitch from right-handed reliever Juan Mejia and sent it over the right field fence. An inning later, with two outs, he ripped another three-run blast to the opposite field against righty Eric Hepple, capping the Raptors' scoring. 


Gameday box score


"I was up there just trying to attack the fastball, really," McWilliams said. "The previous game, I was getting down in the count with two strikes and had to be protective. Tonight, I just tried to attack the fastball early, and I was able to do that."

Selected by the Dodgers in the 19th round of the 2018 Draft, McWilliams is picking up where he left off last season after hitting .276/.378/.799 in the Rookie-level Arizona League. After a one-game stint with Double-A Tulsa, the Mississippi native has 18 hits in 12 Pioneer League games. His previous high was four RBIs, accomplished twice last summer. 

His time in Tulsa was short, but the lessons learned in the Texas League have stuck with McWilliams. He joined the Drillers for a day after the Dodgers organization suggested it would be a good learning experience and could provide him with some insight into full-season baseball. McWilliams, who had only played Rookie ball since making his Minor League debut, jumped at the opportunity and joined Tulsa on June 2 for his first game of the year.

McWilliams wasn't supposed to play. The plan was for him to sit in the dugout and observe the game while picking the brains of coaches and teammates. However, one of the Drillers became sick before first pitch. Next thing McWilliams knew, he was the starting second baseman against Arkansas.

McWilliams went 0-for-3, scored a run and recorded a putout. Playing a full-season game, combined with tidbits of advice and motivation of other players made an impact on him.

"Talking to the guys [in Tulsa], they've helped me a lot," McWilliams said. "It helped me realize that I can do it. It doesn't really matter what level now, I have confidence in myself that I can do this.

2019 MiLB include

"I faced guys a lot older than me in Double-A," he added. "I didn't have the stats that I wanted to there, but I still had good at-bats. ... It was a confidence-booster, knowing that I was at the Double-A level at 21 years old and could still compete."

Twelve days later, McWilliams made his Rookie Advanced debut. He's posted a .333 average with a 1.058 OPS. On Saturday, he extended his hitting streak to seven games, during which he's 13-for-31 (.419).

"I've been trying my best not to get two strikes," McWilliams said regarding his recent success. "When I get to two strikes, I start swinging at everything. I want to stay early in the count and get after it. If it's a strike, the pitch I want, then I'll hammer it."

Ogden pounded out 15 hits, with Jon Littell and Marco Hernandez contributing three apiece. Vranesh finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs while Brandon Wulff plated two runs.

Yolki Pena led Grand Junction, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Walking Cabrera and Reese Berberet each posted two hits and drove in one run.

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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