Colt Keith put on an offensive performance for Double-A Erie on Tuesday that just might make someone look at the box score twice to make sure their eyes aren't playing tricks on them.
The No. 87 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline smacked two home runs in four innings, then he completed the cycle in seven frames and tacked on an additional single in the eighth for good measure. A cycle on a six-hit night with two homers has never been accomplished by a Major League player, and only four have been posted on six-hit nights, most recently Christian Yelich for the Brewers on Aug. 29, 2018.
When all was said and done, Keith had a perfect 6-for-6 night at the plate with seven RBIs and three runs scored en route to the SeaWolves' 18-4 win over Harrisburg.
The No. 2 Tigers prospect put on an offensive clinic, so it’s safe to say he set some career highs. The cycle was the first of Keith's career, the six hits were a career high and the two big flies marked just his second multihomer game as a pro.
“I think it’s got to be No. 1,” Keith said of where the night ranks in his career. “I’ve done it in the past when I was younger, but it’s a way bigger deal to do it against Double-A pitching. Some guys are knocking on the door, we’re playing a lot of prospects and a lot of good arms.”
The 2020 fifth-round pick covered the two toughest boxes on his cycle bingo card in the first inning -- the home run and the triple.
Keith started off with a roundtripper in his first at-bat. Facing off against left-hander Mitchell Parker, the Nationals’ No. 23 prospect, Keith smashed a two-run shot into the right-field stands.
The SeaWolves plated eight runs in the first, five courtesy of the Mississippi native. After Erie batted around, Keith came to the plate again in the frame against righty Reid Schaller, and with the bases juiced, Keith drilled a ground ball into right. The ball rolled all the way to the corner and Keith showed off his speed by strolling into third with a three-RBI triple.
His next opportunity came in the fourth. The 6-foot-2 lefty destroyed another pitch from Schaller that wrapped around the right-field foul pole at FNB Field for his seventh jack of the year.
In the fifth, the Senators brought in Evan Lee. The lefty did not slow Keith down in the slightest, and he drove in a run with his eighth double of the year.
Despite all the offense, a cycle was not on Keith's radar.
“I honestly didn’t think about it until our pitching coach, Juan Pimentel, said something like, ‘If you hit a double, make sure you trip and stay at first,’ or something like that,” Keith said. “I felt pretty invincible going up there in the last at-bat. I felt like everything was clicking and I was going to get a hit.”
To finish off the hitting master class and the milestone, Keith swatted a pair of singles in the seventh and eighth. The massive night -- the most by an opposing player in Harrisburg history -- raised his average from .266 to .300 with a .913 OPS.
And he credits all of it to a recent change made in his swing.
“I’ve always battled keeping my back hip back and not letting myself drift towards the pitcher,” Keith said. “There was something else that I noticed last week, it was kind of a big breakthrough watching some video. Whenever I’m doing well, I'm seeing pitches, I’m seeing spin, I’m taking balls, I’m hitting strikes, I’m pretty much always standing straight up.”
With Erie hitting coach Francisco Contreras, Keith tracked this trend back to his high school days. Prior to his 6-for-6 night, Keith was hitting .225 in May, and in all those games, he was hunched over at the dish. Now with a more upright stance, the infielder hopes to carry this performance into the rest of the season and eventually to the Majors.