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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Hudson Potts hits a two-run home run in the first inning Monday afternoon against Lansing.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Jorge Oña, left, greets TinCaps teammate Hudson Potts after scoring on Potts’ home run in the first inning Monday against Lansing at Parkview Field.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 1:00 am

TinCaps 13 Lansing 4

TinCaps jump on Lugnuts quickly

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Michel Baez are the TinCaps' hot names right now, but the less-heralded Hudson Potts is nearly as interesting.

After a slow start to his season, Potts' month-by-month on-base plus slugging percentage has increased from .575 in April to .639 in May and .658 in June and now a much healthier .777 in July.

Fort Wayne's third baseman is on a power surge, as evidenced again Monday in a 13-4 rout of Lansing at Parkview Field. In his first 44 games, Potts hit two home runs. In his past 33 games, he's gone deep eight times.

“All these youngsters are going through their first full (professional) seasons and have to make their adjustments,” TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. “With maturity and experience, good players make adjustments and see results like he is doing right now.”

Ranked the No. 12 prospect in the San Diego Padres' farm system, Potts looked lost early but lately is living up to his billing.

“I haven't changed much,” Potts said. “I think it's trusting myself more and hitting whatever pitches I like. I'm playing like I know I can and just trying to contribute to the team in any way.”

On Monday, Potts went 2 for 5 with a two-run homer in the first inning and an RBI single in Fort Wayne's four-run seventh. He did, however, have plenty of help.

Jorge Ońa went 3 for 5 with an RBI single in the first, a two-run single in the second and another RBI single in Fort Wayne's three-run eighth. Nate Easley's fourth-inning homer, his second of the year, made it 6-0 as the TinCaps roughed up Andy Ravel (5-4). In six innings, he gave up six runs on eight hits despite six strikeouts.

An outpouring of runs seemed superfluous with Baez (2-0) pitching. Making his third professional start in the United States and second with Fort Wayne, the 6-foot-8 Cuban right-hander gave up just one hit and struck out seven over six shutout innings, which was a continuation of his previous outing (nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings).

“He's been great,” Potts said. “He's been lights-out.”

With Potts making the lineup deeper, the TinCaps (38-51, 12-7 second half) took three out of four games from Lansing and have won five of their last six series.

“These guys are in a good spot right now where they're doing their business and preparing the right way,” Contreras said. “They did a good job coming out hot and swinging early (Monday), and even with the big lead they kept scoring, which is huge for this team.”

After an off-day today, the TinCaps start a six-game road trip with three games against Burlington and three with Peoria. Fort Wayne has cycled through the Eastern Division a second and third time, but those are yet-unseen foes from the Western Division.

“Curious?” Contreras said. “No, not really. We have scouting reports on all these guys. In this day and age, you can find information on these guys before we get there, and Spence (Moody), our video guy, (hitting coach) Dougie (Banks) and myself will let them know the information, and when we get there we'll see what happens.”

cgoff@jg.net