Diego Cartaya didn't just find his power dial, it appears he turned it to max ... and then broke it off.
"He's not giving any at-bats away," Loons hitting coach Dylan Nasiatka said. "He's a studious worker before the game. He prepares well and in the game he's making good decisions at the plate. He's just handling his at-bats in a really mature way, making adjustments pitch-to-pitch, he's definitely doing things that are beyond his age right now."
Cartaya is on a a six-game hitting streak, with nine knocks -- four going for extra bases -- over that span. The 20-year-old has also scored seven times, driven in four runs and raised his Midwest League batting average 22 points to .290. His latest dinger came as part of a multihit night, the second during his streak.
"I had him last year as well [with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga], so I have a pretty solid background with Diego. What I saw between last year and this year is that he grew up quite a bit as a person," Nasiatka said. "I think now he's able to look at the game and coordinate the process of the game without getting wrapped up in success or failure. He's also been putting a lot of effort into making sure he swings at good pitches here and that's served him well."
Against the Chiefs, Cartaya recovered from a first-inning strikeout with a single in the third. The righty-swinging backstop connected on the first pitch of the at-bat from Chiefs starter Dionys Rodriguez and punched it through a hole on the left side of the infield. The hit set up Great Lakes with two runners on and no outs and helped opened the scoring later in the frame for the Loons.
In his next plate appearance, with one out in the fifth, Cartaya faced Rodriguez again. After falling behind the right-hander 0-2, Cartaya fouled a pitch off to stay alive. The Venezuelan native took the next pitch low for a ball before he unloaded on the fifth pitch of the at-bat that crossed right over the heart of the plate and deposited it over the wall in left-center field.
The blast provided a 4-0 cushion for the Loons and Great Lakes never looked back from there.
"We made some adjustments with Diego's hands over the last month to give him some more consistent feel at the plate to hit in a bigger zone and he's really locked in with that. I think it's freed him up a little bit and just cleaned up the swing direction and I think over the last month that's what we've really seen," Nasiatka said. "But his ability to stay locked in pitch to pitch is really what stands out most right now. He understands that as the at-bat develops his approach needs to tailor to the at-bat in addition to what he feels he can have success on.
"And it was just incredible in that at-bat tonight [when he hit the home run] the way he grinded it out and got his mistake and didn't miss it."
Cartaya is sporting a .290/.418/.562 slash line with 11 homers, 11 doubles, 35 runs scored and 30 RBIs over 44 games with the Loons. MLB's No. 12 overall prospect opened the year with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and batted .260/.405/.550 with 19 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs, 31 runs scored and 23 walks in 33 games with the Quakes.