Hassell III tallied the first three-homer game of his career and drove in five runs to help power High-A Fort Wayne past Great Lakes, 12-11, in 11 innings at Dow Diamond. The No. 3 Padres prospect was playing in his third game with the TinCaps following his promotion from the Low-A Storm on Saturday.
"It felt good to hit that first one, but I kept the same mindset," Hassell said. "Even after I went deep a second time, I said to myself, 'Don't get caught up in those home runs. Just hit the ball hard.'"
Hassell was 1-for-9 in his first two games with Fort Wayne and opened Wednesday's tilt with strikeouts in consecutive at-bats. But any negative vibes were quickly washed away in the fifth inning when the Tennessee native cleared the right-field fence for his first High-A homer. He provided an encore with his second jack of the night in the sixth, giving him the first multihomer game of his career.
"I felt good coming into the game and to be honest, even in my first two [with the TinCaps]," Hassell said. "Even after striking out in those first two at-bats, I felt it was just a matter of time before I started barreling some balls up. I didn't necessarily think they'd all go over the fence, but that's fine with me."
Hassell went down swinging in the eighth but was afforded another opportunity with the game going to extra innings. The 20-year-old made the most of it, slamming his third round tripper of the night and 10th of the season. The two-run shot pushed Fort Wayne's lead to 12-8 and proved beneficial in more ways than one when Great Lakes rallied for three runs of their own in the bottom of the 11th.
"I knew it was gone when I hit it," Hassell said of becoming the third player in Fort Wayne history to homer three times in one game. "[Right fielder Andy Pages] took a courtesy jog but we both knew it was gone. Honestly, I was only thinking about winning the game at that point. That was the biggest thing for me in that moment."
The performance was perhaps the most impressive in a debut season that has been full of noteworthy moments. The eighth overall pick in the 2020 Draft has made a seamless transition from prep to professional. Hassell was in the midst of his best stretch of the season prior to his promotion, batting .378 with a 1.056 OPS, 21 RBIs and 20 runs in 20 games last month.
His scorching August came on the heels of a July where he batted .368 with a .477 OBP. The two-month stretch put a bow on Hassell's Lake Elsinore tenure, which ended with a .323/.415/.482 slash line. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound center fielder scored 77 runs, drove in 65 and collected 41 extra-base hits in 92 games.
"The main thing for me this season has been just having the time to develop my tools," Hassell said. "Slowing the game down has been really important and beneficial. I recognize my capabilities and as long as I don't go out there and try and do too much, I'll be fine. Letting the game come to me instead of forcing it and just taking everything -- an at-bat, a play in the field -- just one at a time."