MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: RockHounds regaining rhythm through first month of 2021 season

The early part of the 2021 season for the Midland RockHounds has been all about trying to make up for lost time.

With the 2020 minor league season being canceled due to COVID-19, the current group of RockHounds is looking to regain its rhythm on the field.

Outfielder Devin Foyle has found his composure during the team’s latest homestand. In the last 12 games that ended with Friday’s 2-0 victory over Corpus Christi, Foyle is hitting .415 with three triples and 15 runs batted in.

“I think a lot of the guys are just excited to be back out there and playing again,” Foyle said prior to Thursday’s game against Corpus Christi. “After missing out on a whole year, everyone started to get back in the flow of things.”

Because there was no minor league season last year, Foyle had to find different ways to stay active. He went back home to Fountain Hills, Arizona and said he was focused on finding places to hit and prepare himself for his first season in Midland.

Foyle spent the 2019 season in Beloit, the former Class-A full season affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

He added that it’s been an adjustment to Double-A ball, but he says that sticking to his routine has helped him and the rest of his teammates.

“We’re all just trying to get in that groove and get more comfortable,” Foyle said. “Our bats are getting hot and once one guy gets on, it kind of rolls on through for the rest of us.”

The RockHounds have started to find that groove heading into the final two games of their 12-game homestand. Since starting 0-4, Midland has been 17-7 during a stretch that included a seven-game winning streak entering Saturday’s matchup with Corpus Christi.

Manager Bobby Crosby has also seen a different spark in his team in recent weeks.

“I think some guys came into spring a little bit rusty and I think it showed at the beginning of the season,” Crosby said Thursday. “A lot of guys are also making the jump to Double-A for the first time and that’s a factor too.”

Crosby added that his team has done a good job following COVID-19 protocols that were implemented by Major League Baseball before the 2021 season started.

There’s also the fact that the entire Minor League Baseball organization has been restructured with a 120-game season and six-game series against the same team.

Infielder Jonah Bride said the RockHounds have adapted to the changes well.

“The six-game series is a little different because you get to know the guys on the other team pretty well,” Bride said. “Every Monday is off which is nice because it gives you a chance to reset.

“We developed a good routine in spring training and ever since we got to Midland, we’ve stuck with it and it’s been a lot of fun with this group.”

The RockHounds have been able to win games in many different ways heading into the quarter mark of the season. The pitching staff threw a four-hit shutout in one win and the team scored 10 runs in the second inning of a 12-7 victory over Corpus Christi Thursday.

Whatever way the team has gotten the job done, Crosby believes that it’s an encouraging sign of things to come.

“Every day, it seems like they’re getting more comfortable and seeing that rust come off a little bit,” he said. “Guys just weren’t used to playing every day and taking a year off is a big deal. I feel like a lot of the guys are getting back to where they need to be.”