Waters notches first multi-homer game

May 19th, 2021

may not look like a prototypical power hitter, but MLB's No. 28 overall prospect thinks it's way too early to make such assumptions.

And to back that up, Waters notched his first multi-homer effort -- one from each side of the plate -- and finished with three hits and three RBIs to pace Triple-A Gwinnett's offense in a 9-8 loss to Nashville. The 22-year-old entered the contest 8-for-36 (.222) with 13 strikeouts in his first nine games of the season before the breakout performance.

"I had been working with our hitting coach, Carlos Mendez," Waters said. "It was frustrating, mostly because I was struggling hitting the fastball. In prior seasons, that is something I've always been able to do well. So that had me scratching my head a bit. We watched some video and pretty much came to the same conclusion and that is the season is barely a week old. Patience is something you need in this game."

Waters showed signs of breaking out of a recent 3-for-21 skid by reaching base six times in his last two games. The Atlanta native beat out an infield single to lead off the game, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Jonathan Lucroy's single to right field. After grounding out in his second at-bat, Waters -- batting right-handed -- went to the opposite field for a two-run homer in the fourth for his first official roundtripper since Aug. 31, 2019.

Following a groundout to end the fifth, Atlanta's second-ranked prospect swung around to the left side of the dish and stroked a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a solo blast to bring Gwinnett within a run in the eighth. The switch-hitting outfielder has gone 5-for-9 with six runs, four RBIs and three extra-base hits in his last three games to boost his line to .268/.362/.488 in 41 at-bats.

"One thing we did notice on video that led to a small adjustment was where I was standing in the [batter's] box," Waters said. "I was right on top of the plate and [Mendez] told me to back off a bit. It seems to be working and tonight was another great sign."

Although his 50-grade power, Waters has yet to reach double figures in home runs, topping out at nine in 460 at-bats in 2018. Overall, he's gone deep 22 times in 1,226 career at-bats, but the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder warns pundits about typecasting him so early in his career.

"I think a lot of people have drawn conclusions on a 20-year-old version of me," Waters explained. "In the grand scheme of things, I really don't have a whole lot of at-bats [as a professional], especially compared to other players in Triple-A. It's tough to draw any sort of conclusion on the type of player I was or who I'm going to be."

Taken in the second round of the 2017 Draft, Waters has been an offensive force in the Braves' organization from the moment he debuted that year. He sports a .297/.354/.462 slash line in 308 Minor League games, highlighted by a 2019 season in which he batted .309 with an .819 OPS and 56 extra-base hits, including 40 doubles, between Double-A and Triple-A. His success with Double-A Mississippi earned him Southern League MVP honors. He now finds himself a phone call away from the Majors.

"I think anyone in my position is thinking about getting up to the bigs," Waters said. "Just saying that is exciting, but the one thing I'm focused on is keeping my feet where they are right here and now. When the time is right, I'll get my opportunity, but for now, I want to focus on getting better each and every day in Triple-A."

Keston Hiura and Jace Peterson combined for five hits, a homer and six RBIs to lead Nashville.

Brewers No. 7 prospect Aaron Ashby was roughed up for six runs on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.