Vittek has career night in Appy League
Non-drafted free agent homers twice, drives in seven runs
Josh Vittek is making the Kansas City Royals look pretty smart.
Vittek homered twice and drove in a career-high seven runs Friday to power the Burlington Royals to a 10-1 rout of the playoff-bound Pulaski Mariners at Calfee Park.
The 22-year-old catcher highlighted a pair of five-run outbursts with a grand slam in the third inning and a three-run shot in the sixth.
"It felt great," said Vittek. "After the first one, I was feeling pretty confident, feeling pretty good."
Not bad for a non-drafted rookie who recorded the first multi-homer of his brief professional career.
"They started a lefty tonight and I guess I was trying to stay closed and keep my front shoulder on the ball," he said. "Just not try to do too much with it and keep it simple."
The big night followed a 1-for-5 effort in which Vittek struck out three times.
"I've just been trying to find my swing the last two games and I had the hat trick last night," he said. "I'm still trying to find it, so I'm going to stay confident and stay with it."
Vittek signed with Kansas City as a free agent on June 29 after leading Mount St. Mary's to its first-ever Northeast Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. He broke 13 school records in 2008, including single-season and career marks for hits, homers and RBIs.
Not a bad route to take to the pros.
"It's gone pretty well," Vittek said of his rookie campaign. "I've put up some pretty solid numbers, and coming out of Division I after four years, it was good preparation for this. I expected to do well."
The Maryland native is hitting .296 in his rookie season after batting .377 with 20 homers and 64 RBIs in his final year at Mount St. Mary's.
"Staying in college for four years, it was good preparation," he said. "The games are a little faster and my manager says they get faster each level you go up. I'm getting used to it."
It was the biggest game for the 6-foot-4, 240-pound first baseman since he homered and drove in five runs on July 25 against Pulaski.
Vittek posted lofty stats at the Mount, where he set career records for hits (231), doubles (60), homers (44), RBIs (175), runs scored (131), total bases (423), at-bats (690) and games played (195). He also established single-season marks for slugging percentage (.736), hits (80), RBIs (64) and total bases (156). He went on to secure MVP honors at the NEC Tournament.
Vittek's night at the plate helped make things easy for John Flanagan (3-3), who combined with two relievers on a three-hitter. The 20-year-old southpaw struck out three and allowed three hits over six frames before Williams Farinas hurled a pair of scoreless frames and Edwin Mieles worked around an unearned run in the ninth.
Starter Nick Czyz (6-5) allowed five runs on eight hits over three innings for the Mariners, who clinched the Appalachian League Eastern Division title when Danville lost to Elizabethton.
Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.