Now Commenting On:

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Roberts continues to rake as Javelinas blast Dogs

Roberts continues to rake as Javelinas blast Dogs

Roberts continues to rake as Javelinas blast Dogs
Peoria needed a win on Tuesday, having lost three in a row and having seen its AFL West Division lead shrink to a half-game. The Javelinas got one in an 8-1 blowout of Phoenix, to whom they had lost just yesterday.

Leadoff man Nate Roberts continued his domination of AFL pitching, going 2-for-4 with a solo homer, a walk and three RBIs and lifting his league-leading batting average to a remarkable .474.

A fifth-round pick out of High Point University in 2010, Roberts underwent knee surgery before the 2011 season and reinjured the knee in July of that year. He returned to the Beloit Snappers in late May of this season, and, after a slow start, put together a .299/.433/.427 line in 76 games. Roberts' .433 on-base percentage was higher than any of the hitters who qualified for the Midwest League batting title.

Roberts has been even hotter in the AFL. The 23-year-old Twins prospect has collected multiple hits in eight of his 17 games during the fall campaign and failed to reach base just once. He's even discovered his power stroke, with both of his longballs coming in the last three games. Roberts' .592 on-base percentage and .667 slugging percentage are also tops in the league.

"I'm just doing what I normally do," he said. "I'm a top-of-the-order guy, so I try to see as many pitches as I can and get good wood on the ball. I've been hitting pretty well and been lucky with balls finding holes for me."

After striking out in the first inning -- just his sixth K, to go along with 11 walks, in 57 AFL at-bats -- Roberts delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single in the second, giving the Javelinas a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish. The left-handed hitter lined out to center in the fourth before leading off the sixth with his second longball.

"[Phoenix reliever Cory Rasmus] started with a couple fastballs away, then he left a changeup that got a little more of the plate," Roberts recalled. "I hit it square and was lucky to get it over the fence."

The blast extended the Javelinas' lead to 8-1, with the Peoria pitching staff holding Phoenix to just four hits -- all off starter Logan Darnell (Twins), who gave up one run while fanning two over four innings to improve to 2-0. Relievers Drew Hayes (Reds), Caleb Thielbar (Twins), Josh Ravin (Reds), Bobby LaFromboise (Mariners) and Curtis Partch (Reds) tossed one hitless frame apiece.

Each of the top seven hitters in the Javelinas lineup collected multiple hits, with Mariners prospect Mike Zunino going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Peoria went 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Phoenix starter Jimmy Nelson fell to 2-3 after allowing four runs on six hits over four frames. He struck out three and walked a pair. Fellow Brewers prospect Kyle Heckathorn took over in the fifth, but each of the five hitters he faced singled, with three of them going on to score.

The Javelinas' win allowed them to maintain their half-game lead over Surprise, which topped Mesa, 10-8. Both teams have two games left, though neither are against each other.

"We're really pushing for [a spot in the AFL Championship]," Roberts said. "Getting a win today was big."

John Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }
Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español