When Vince Fernandez makes contact people take notice.
The Rockies 10th-round draft pick in 2016 has been a home run threat ever since he got into pro ball. After sharing the High-A California League home run title with 24 home runs with Lancaster in 2018, Fernandez hit is Double-A Eastern League 13th home run for Hartford on Wednesday night.
The home run allowed him to extend his current hitting streak to eight games in which he is 12-for-31 (.387) with five home runs, nine RBI and seven runs scored. He is hitting .296, an improvement from his first two years at the full-season level. He hit .265 at Lancaster last year, and .269 at Low-A Asheville in 2017.
He was ranked the Rockies 24th-best prospect during the off-season. The key for Fernandez is making more consistent contact. He has struck out at a .345 rate in his minor-league career -- 401 times in 1,160 at-bats, including 56 times in 159 times this year. He, however, has 323 hits in the 759 at-bats in which he has put the ball in play -- a .426 average when he makes contact.
In Wednesday's games:
AAA Albuquerque (23-24) lost 7-5 at Las Vegas (A's). Ryan Castellani (2-2, 6.84) came off the injured list and struggled in his first start in 22 days, giving up six runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out two in 2 2/3 innings. Garrett Hampson (.429) and Pat Valaika (.372) were both 3-for-5. Hampson had a double and home run. Sam Hilliard (.245) was 2-for-4 with a triple and his 14th home run.
AA Hartford (25-21) won 3-1 against Erie (Tigers) in front of the 100th sellout in Dunkin' Donuts Park history, the 12th this season. Right-hander Rico Garcia (5-1, 1.98) rebounded from his first loss of the season to allow one run on five hits and two walks, striking out seven, in six innings. Ben Bowden (1.45) worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two, for his 14th save. Along with Fernandez's offensive effort, Tyler Nevin (.221) was 2-for-4 with a triple and run scored.
High A Lancaster (23-20) won 2-1 at Inland Empire (Angels). Carlos Herrera (.274) was 1-for-4 with an RBI, driving in the game-tying run, and Matt Hearn scored the game-winner on a throwing error. Lucas Gilbreath (3.86) started and allowed one run on four hits and four walks, striking out six in 4 2/3 innings. Nate Harris (2-2, 4.67) worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and a walk, and striking out four to be credited with the win. Salvador Justo (3.54) earned his fifth save with a perfect ninth in which he struck one.
Low A Asheville (18-27) won 10-7 against Charleston (Yankees). The Tourists won their fourth in a row at home thanks to five two-out RBI hits. Ryan Feltner (3-3, 4.96) allowed four runs on six hits and two walks, striking out six in five innings. Jake Bird (3.07) pitched a perfect ninth for his first save. Terrin Vavra (.310) was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, a double and RBI. Willie MacIver (.252) was 2-for-5 with two runs scored, a double and his eighth home run. John Cresto (.304) was 3-for-3 with a run scored, two doubles, and four RBI.