MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Bride building confidence as key contributor for RockHounds

MIDLAND Confidence is a big part of how Jonah Bride plays baseball and he’s been able to build plenty of it over the last two weeks.

Bride has reached base safely in 12 straight games for the Midland RockHounds and leads the team in both batting average (.346) and runs batted in (18).

He added two more hits, drew a walk and drove in a run in Thursday’s 12-7 victory over the Corpus Christi Hooks.

For the 23rd-round pick out of South Carolina in the 2018 MLB Draft, it’s simply been about trying to maintain a consistent approach.

“I’ve had my confidence building up,” Bride said Thursday. “I just try to stick to the same routine every single day. Everyone is enjoying it and playing good baseball.”

Bride is a big reason the RockHounds have played as well as they have during their season-best five-game winning streak.

As part of his 12 game on-base streak, Bride had three doubles, a home run and drove in eight runs while scoring six runs himself.

Midland Rockhounds’ Jonah Bride (20) runs to first base after hitting a pitch against the Corpus Christi Hooks Thursday evening at Momentum Bank Ballpark in Midland. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

“I’ve always known that he can hit but he’s a guy who puts the barrel on the bat almost every single time up,” RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby said. “He always gives us a good at bat.

“He’s hitting fourth for us and they’re pitching him tough and he just finds a way to put the barrel on it.”

Bride’s confidence combined with a previous stint at the Double-A level are helping him get through the 2021 season.

After spending most of 2019 at Class A Stockton, Bride was called up late in the year and appeared in two road games for the RockHounds.

“It was definitely good just to be able to come in and see how everything rolls,” he said.  “I flew into Springfield (in 2019) and just went right in there.

“There was some nerves and all that but it was helpful.”

That growth was stunted a bit due to the cancellation of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During that time, Bride said he went back home to the Tulsa, Oklahoma area and did whatever he could to stay baseball ready, including playing catch in the street and just working out.

As Oklahoma began to open back up, Bride said he was able to get more workouts and live at-bats in against a few professional pitchers who lived in the area.

He also competed in the Instructional League in Arizona where he got about 50 to 55 at bats.

That preparation had a role in getting him settled to play every day in Midland.

Midland Rockhounds’ Jonah Bride (20) tags out Frisco RoughRiders’ J.P. Martinez (1) after an attempt to get back to first base in the first inning of their game May 25 at Momentum Bank Ballpark in Midland. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

“From 2018 to 2019, the jump from short-season to Single A was big,” Bride said. “This jump to Double A is even bigger with every single count and pitch.

“The at bats are tougher and if you get that good pitch, you don’t want to miss it.”

Crosby added that Bride’s mentality resonates with the rest of the team’s.

“He’s a pro hitter and knows what his strengths are,” Crosby said. “When he gets into a hitter’s count, he turns it up a little bit and is able to get doubles and homers.”

As the season moves on, Bride’s goal is to continue building consistency at the plate and in the field. Bride has spent most of his time at the corner infielder positions while occasionally filling in as the designated hitter.

“I just want to be the same guy that’s consistent and that every day, people know who they are going to get,” Bride said. “I just have to be a good teammate and help them out any way that I can and just go about the work the right day.”

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