Champ Stuart finally broke his hitting slump on Thursday night in the Binghamton Rumble Ponies’ 5-4 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
In the third inning, Stuart grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for the Rumble Ponies. Just prior to that, he dropped to 0-for-20 on the season. Stuart walked in his next two at-bats and then led off the ninth inning with the score tied at 4 against Zach Jackson.
The 25-year-old Stuart was assigned to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies’ roster in 2018, the third straight season.
“Every guy gets into a slump at the minor-league level, it’s part of the development,” Binghamton manger Luis Rojas said.
“They learn things, what gets them in trouble. Some guys are so special they never get into a slump. I know for myself, I was in a slump for a very long time. You learn a lot of things, you practice drills, you hear different thoughts and ideas from different people who want to help you.”
Not only Rojas was excited to see Champ get out of the slump, his teammates were too.
“Champ hitting that double was huge,” said Matt Oberste, whose bases-loaded walk with two outs, scored Stuart with the winning run – Binghamton’s first walk-off win of the season.
“That was his first hit of the season. Champ’s my boy, so I’m glad to see him doing well.”
Stuart is known to be a consistent hitter with a career .225 average over his first five professional seasons.
In 101 games last season with the Double-A Rumble Ponies, Stuart led the Eastern League with 35 stolen bases, hit .222, slugging .331, an on-base percentage of .310, an OPS of .641 and five home runs.
In 2016 he had a season of several milestones, including an appearance as a pinch runner in the final Grapefruit League game for the Mets in spring training. His last call up was also preluded by a stellar regular season, and an offseason spent in the Arizona Fall League.