M-Braves' Waters collects four more hits

No. 44 overall prospect boosts July batting average to .480

Drew Waters leads the Southern League in seven offensive categories, including batting, hits and runs. (Ed Gardner/MiLB.com)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | July 8, 2019 12:17 AM

His last name may say differently, but Drew Waters has been on fire for Double-A Mississippi. 

MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect recorded his fourth four-hit game of the season and scored three times, leading Mississippi to a 10-1 triumph over Biloxi on Sunday at Trustmark Park.

Video: Mississippi's Waters singles for fourth hit

At 20 years old, Waters has established himself as one of the top hitters in Double-A. He leads the Southern League with a .335 average, 113 hits, nine triples and 29 doubles. He kept up the pace against the Shuckers, lacing a double to go with three singles in his third multi-hit game this month. 

Batting second, the fourth-ranked Braves prospect belted a two-bagger off starter Dylan File in the first inning and scored the game's first run on a base hit by Ryan Casteel. After flying out in the second, Waters ripped the first of three straight singles on the first pitch from the right-hander in the fourth. He swiped second for his 11th stolen base of the season and came home on a double by Tyler Neslony.

The Georgia native was down, 0-2, against lefty reliever Clayton Andrews before reaching on an infield hit and continuing to second on a throwing error by third baseman Jake Gatewood in the sixth. He crossed the plate again on a bases-loaded double by Daniel Lockhart. Waters ended his productive night with a first-pitch seeing-eye single to center off righty Nattino Diplan in the eighth.


Gameday box score


Waters had never had a four-hit outing until this season; since May, he's done it four times, most recently on June 14. He attributed that to tweaking his stance.

"I've always been kind of a handsy hitter, but I knew going into last year's offseason that I needed to work on the lower half of my swing," he said. 

So the 2017 second-round pick adjusted his stance. Instead of standing upright, Waters put some bend in his knees. He stopped drifting to off-speed pitches and waited for them to come to him. 

"Last year, I didn't really hit breaking balls too well. I could get away with hitting the changeup, but really, I got most of my hits off of fastballs," Waters added. "This year, with a strong lower half, I'm seeing [all pitches] and I'm able to hit them deep in my swing. Now it's just a matter of swinging at strikes and when I swing at strikes, more often than not it winds up in my favor."

That's backed up by a .338 average and a .916 OPS earned Waters a selection in the Southern League All-Star Game, where he promptly hit a leadoff home run. But he thinks there's still room for improvement.

"I want to continue hitting from the right side of the plate," Waters said. "I can hit right-handed, because the right side is my natural side, but for me, it's more of a comfort level. I get way more at-bats left-handed than I do right-handed. But I think over time, as I continue to face left-handed pitching, I'll continue to get more comfortable and you'll see my right side really come into play."

The Woodstock, Georgia, high-school product has already put questions of his youth to rest. The Braves aggressively assigned him to Double-A after one full Minor League season and he has a .302/.357/.479 career slash line with 18 homers and 20 triples. 

Waters' big night came in support of Braves No. 21 prospect Jasseel De La Cruz, who recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts over six scoreless innings. The right-hander gave up four hits and two walks, lowering his ERA to 2.92 in nine games since his promotion from Class A Advanced Florida. De La Cruz has already thrown a no-hitter this season, the first in Florida's team history, on just 89 pitches.

2019 MiLB include

"He didn't surprise me at all," Waters remarked. "He has what I call an 'electric arm.' He has a pretty good idea of what he can do on the mound. He can run his fastball up to 98 mph and then sometimes he'll throw it at 91 with a cut, and he can also throw a hard slider. It's always an uncomfortable at-bat for the guys facing him.

"When he's throwing strikes, not too many people hit him. As he continues to develop as a pitcher, he'll continue to have that success."

Mississippi racked up 17 hits with Braves No. 12 prospect Greyson Jenista ripping a two-run homer during a three-hit night. Tyler Neslony also tallied three hits, falling a homer short of the cycle. 

Joantgel Segovia drove in the Shuckers' only run with a single in the ninth.

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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