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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Reggie Lawson, with the TinCaps, started out pitching in Wednesday's game against Great Lakes at Parkview Field.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Hudson Potts, with the TinCaps, runs the bases after hitting a grandslam in the second inning of Wednesday's game against Great Lakes at Parkview Field.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 11:50 pm

Analyzing TinCaps' Potts, Lawson

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

There is plenty to take away from the TinCaps’ 7-5 victory tonight over the Great Lakes Loons, a game that has Fort Wayne one victory away from clinching a berth in the playoffs. For what it’s worth, a South Bend loss would also put Fort Wayne back in the postseason after missing it last year.

Of course, Hudson Potts was the big story with his three-run home run in the first inning and his grand slam in the second inning, giving him seven RBI, one off the franchise record.

I asked Potts, the 18-year-old first-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2016, what changed on June 1. Since that day, he’s hit 17 of the 19 home runs he’s has this season.

“I’m not really sure,” he said. “I’m just not missing as many pitches as I was early in the year, when it’s cold and all that. I’ve learned a lot throughout the year about staying aggressive and all that, and it’s been fun.”

Manager Anthony Contreras chalked it up to the talent and the work ethic of the youngster.

“He’s made adjustments. He’s a smart baseball player and he’s going to go check video. He might make some subtle physical (changes), but he knows what pitches to look for and he knows what he wants to do. You could see the confidence change,” Contreras said.

Another topic of conversation in the clubhouse was that the TinCaps need make sure they protect leads better. Potts talked about the “comfortable feeling” teams can get with a big lead.

The TinCaps’ lead, which had been 7-1, dropped to two runs when Great Lakes got three runs in the fifth.

“The energy in the game, like in the fifth when (starter) Reggie (Lawson) started to stumble like that, it went down and we need to do a better job of staying in the game regardless,” Contreras said. “The fans, everybody, the vibe in the whole stadium went down and we’ve got to keep grinding them out.”

Speaking of Lawson, whose statistical line was four innings, with five runs and seven hits allowed, eight strikeouts and four walks, Contreras felt he saw some good things.

“Aggressive is Lawson’s game. When he’s intense and he’s pounding the zone and he’s going after these guys, that’s when he’s on,” Contreras said. “It’s kind of been a trend this year to get to the fifth or sixth inning and to get over that hump has kind of been his pet peeve.

“We want him to stay as focused as he was the first two innings and keep that aggressiveness. These young pitchers, they start getting hit around a little bit and they go into panic mode. … That’s natural. He’s a young kid. He’s going to take his beatings like this but hopefully, with the talent he is, he’ll make the changes down the road.”

jcohn@jg.net