Guardians rookie Steven Kwan joins exclusive club by recording five hits vs. Royals in third career MLB game

USATSI

Cleveland Guardians rookie outfielder Steven Kwan made history on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals by notching five hits in his third career game.

Kwan, whose afternoon was part of a larger Guardians’ offensive outburst that saw them plate 17 runs, became the fifth player since World War II to have a five-hit contest within their first five big-league games. He joins a group that includes Yermin Mercedes (who did it last season with the Chicago White Sox), Gregory Polanco (2014), Mike Lansing (1993), and John Wehner (1991). Kwan also reached base on Sunday by being hit by a pitch.

headshot-image

Kwan singled to the center field in the first inning. He singled to the left in the second. He then completed the hat trick by singing to the right in the third. He reached on an infield single in the fifth inning, and he was struck by the aforementioned pitch in the seventh. Kwan came up one last time in the eighth and hit a double to the right to cap off his afternoon.

Kwan was one of CBS Sports’ breakout picks prior to the season. Here was the explanation:

Kwan isn’t for everyone, but he’s a fascinating prospect who should get a shot in Cleveland’s outfield. He split last season between Double- and Triple-A hitting .328 / .407 / .527 with 12 home runs and five more walks than strikeouts. Despite that impressive rate of production, he failed to make headway on now prospect lists (the exception being Eric Longenhagen’s at FanGraphs) because of translatability concerns. Kwan is on the smaller side (he’s listed at 5-foot-9) and until last year they had seldom shown over-the-fence power. (His 12 homers were a new career best.) We’ve referenced the Sam Fuld-Brett Gardner spectrum before on similar players – outfielders who lack pop while displaying good contact and on-base chops – and it applies here; there’s a chance big-league pitchers will feel unthreatened and pound him with strikes, compromising his command over the strike zone and reducing his offensive potency. Believers in Kwan cite his unreal bat-to-ball skills (in terms of making contact and grinding out at-bats) and increased juice as reasons to think he can make it work. Non-believers think he’s probably the fourth or fifth outfielder. We won’t know which side was right for a while, but it’s not every day you have a non-top prospect who is so interesting.

Kwan entered Sunday having recorded three hits in his first eight trips to the plate. He’d also walked three times, giving him a nice .600 / .750 / .800 slash line in an extremely small sample.

Leave a Comment