It hasn’t been the smoothest of starts for Bobby Witt Jr., but perhaps the unofficial start of summer is heating his bat up as well.
MLB’s No. 7 overall prospect went deep three times for the first time in his career and reached base four times to lead Double-A Northwest Arkansas past visiting San Antonio, 12-2, on Sunday night. Witt also homered Saturday, giving him four round-trippers in five official at-bats.
He became the second Northwest Arkansas player to homer three times in one game this season, joining Royals’ No. 9 prospect Nick Pratto who achieved the feat on May 21.
“Not much changed for me the last two days,” Witt said. “I’ve been working really hard to get myself back on the right track. I didn’t get off to the start I wanted to, but I’ve been working with my teammates and coaches, I’ve bought into our approach and I’m just going out and having fun. It all came together tonight”
It’s been a slog for the top Royals prospect through the first month of the season. Witt entered Sunday hitting .209 with 30 strikeouts in his first 21 games. However, the 20-year-old has shown signs of breaking out, hitting safely in eight of his last 11 overall, including three straight multi-hit efforts from May 21-23.
Witt kicked off Northwest Arkansas’ power surge in the third inning, connecting on the first of three consecutive home runs in the inning. He struck again in the sixth, this time going the opposite way to right and completed the trifecta with his seventh long ball clearing the center-field fence two innings later.
Witt’s four home runs in less than 24 hours was one more than he had in his first 85 at-bats.
“I wanted to keep the same approach [in his fourth plate appearance] and not give any at-bats away,” Witt said. “The key for any player is just to be yourself. Sometimes that can get lost and it clicked for me a few weeks ago. The game is hard but sometimes we make it harder than it needs to be. You can make it as simple as you can and that’s what I’ve been trying to do lately.”
Witt also walked, allowing him to reach safely four times in a game for the first time this season. Coupled with his recent hot streak, Sunday’s three-hit performance raised his slash line to .233/.314/.478 to go along with eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and six stolen bases.
Kansas City extended Witt a non-roster invitation to Spring Training each of the last two years. The shortstop impressed, particularly this spring when he batted .289 with a .851 OPS, three homers and 10 RBIs in 14 Cactus League games. The Royals thought enough of his progress to bump him up to Double-A despite him being more than three years younger than the average player on the circuit.
“It’s awesome to be back out there playing with fans in the stands. I get chills just talking about it,” Witt said. “It was a privilege for me to be at the alternate site last year and in Spring Training [this year]. Learning from the big leaguers was so special and really great for me. They’ve helped me with so much and just to be able to pick their brains … it’s incredible.”