Healthy Foscue homers twice for Hickory

July 17th, 2021
Rusty Jones/Hickory Crawdads

Justin Foscue missed roughly six weeks with a left rib contusion suffered while with High-A Hickory in late May. In an attempt to make up for lost time, he packed about a week’s worth of production into Friday’s home game alone.

The Rangers’ No. 5 prospect homered twice, doubled twice and drove in seven runs to lead the Crawdads’ 20-2 rout of Aberdeen at L.P. Frans Stadium.

After finishing 4-for-6 in the laugher, Foscue set early career highs for hits, homers, RBIs and runs scored (four). It marked the fifth straight game with a long ball for the 2020 first-rounder, a stretch that began on July 9 in a rehab game in the Arizona Complex League.

“I was eager to get to play this season after the lost year last year, and especially the way I started off,” Foscue said by phone Friday. “I really was eager to get back and prove everybody wrong, trying to put up some good numbers. There was a little bit of pressure, just because of the numbers I had before. But besides that, things happen for a reason, and I can't say I regret anything that’s happened to get me here.”

Batting second in the Hickory lineup and starting at second base, the right-handed slugger got the game rolling with an RBI double in the first inning, giving the Crawdads their first of 20 runs. The streak-extending homer came one frame later when he connected on a 0-2 breaking ball from IronBirds right-handed starter Conner Loeprich and sent it out to left-center for a two-run shot.

The double-homer pattern continued in the third and sixth, respectively. Foscue’s second two-bagger of the night plated Kellen Strahm to give the hosts an 8-0 early advantage, and he extended that to 17-0 with his three-run blast off a 1-2 breaking pitch from right-handed reliever Kade Strowd, again out to left-center.

The fact that both homers came on two-strike counts underlines how unafraid Foscue has been to go after High-A pitching in any count of late. He is slugging .680 this season over the 25 at-bats he has been behind in the count with the Crawdads.

“My approach since I've gotten back here is to just see the ball and hit the ball,” Foscue said. “I try to keep it as simple as possible. Since I've gotten back, I don't really think anything in the box. I just go ahead and let my talent take over. … With two strikes, they hung two breaking balls, and that's the difference between hitting a ton of homers versus not. I think that in the beginning of the season, I was missing those pitches I could do damage on. Now, I’m not.”

Regardless of the circumstances, Foscue’s power surge couldn’t have come at a better time. He got off to a rough start at High-A, hitting just .182/.315/.364 with two homers and 17 strikeouts in his first 13 games with Hickory, before the rib injury knocked him out of the lineup on May 21. The malady allowed him to run and play the field but severely hurt his ability to swing the bat, leading Foscue to visit a specialist in Arizona who recommended a cortisone shot in late June.

“So that's what they did, and after I got that cortisone shot, I was basically pain-free,” Foscue said. “I couldn't feel anything swinging after that. Once I could swing a bat in the cage pain-free, I knew I was back.”

He began his rehab in the Arizona Complex League on July 6 and was back with the Crawdads five days later.

The Mississippi State product is now 10-for-18 (.556) with five homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in his four games since returning to the Hickory lineup, bumping his High-A season line to .290/.384/.726 with seven homers through 17 total contests.

Foscue was a bit of a surprise pick by Texas at No. 14 in last year’s Draft as a second baseman with a projected average hit tool and average power. But the Rangers believed his right-handed stroke could show a little more than that, as it did in 2019 when he hit .331/.395/.564 with 14 homers as a sophomore in Starkville, and the Alabama native is out to prove who he is when healthy now in 2021.

“I don't really care about the results right now for my personal sake,” he said. “Let's go out there and play a game I love. Let the results happen as they go. I've tried to take it day by day this first professional season and let everything else take care of itself.”

Designated hitter Blaine Crim also homered twice and plated five runs for Hickory in Friday’s 18-run win. Leadoff hitter Strahm added four hits and five RBIs of his own. Crawdads right-handed starter Zak Kent tossed six hitless innings, striking out nine and allowing only one walk in the victory.