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Spokane Indians’ Curtis Terry pounding Northwest League pitching again

Spokane Indians Curtis Terry rips a double against Everett, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Indians Curtis Terry rips a double against Everett, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The leaderboards in the Northwest League power categories look awfully familiar if you’re a Spokane Indians fan.

That’s because slugger Curtis Terry is pacing the league – again – in home runs.

Terry, 21, led the NWL in homers last season with 12, despite playing in just 61 of Spokane’s 76 games.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound first baseman/designated hitter has hit eight in 17 games this season, along with a league-leading 21 RBIs, in 60 plate appearances.

His eighth was a two-run blast in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Hillsboro.

“I’m seeing it pretty good,” the typically reserved Terry said. “Having a good approach.”

“A groove, a roll, he’s seeing it well. He’s putting the barrel on it,” manager Kenny Holmberg said.

Holmberg draws an interesting comparison when describing his middle-of-the-order slugger.

“His back foot kind of comes off the ground à la “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, and you can tell he’s ready to do some damage.”

Terry’s fifth home run, a no-doubt-about-it shot halfway up the screen behind the left-field wall in the eighth inning on June 26, helped the Indians beat the Everett AquaSox 7-5.

“Like my skipper says, just helping the team out, helping our pitcher out,” Terry said. “Making him feel even more comfortable going out there to pitch. It was good for me, but really good for the team.

“I was just staying back, not trying to get outside of myself, not get too big,” Terry added. “Just see a pitch I could drive, and I got one right there.”

But Terry is demonstrating more than just power this season. He’s drawn five walks; that may not seem like much, but he drew just seven all of last season.

He’s making better overall contact and reaching base more often than previously in his professional career. His slash line through Monday – .286 batting average, .365 on-base percentage and .732 slugging average – dwarfs the .258/.303/.467 line he put up in 2017.

This is Terry’s third trip through the Northwest League. He received a brief nine-game introduction to the circuit as a 19-year old in 2016 after crushing the ball for the Rangers’ Arizona Rookie League team for most of the summer.

Terry was the Texas Rangers’ 13th-round pick (378 overall) in 2015 out of Archer High School in Snellville, Georgia.

He was the sixth-rated first baseman in the 2015 draft according to PerfectGame.org. Terry was named a 2015 honorable mention All-American by Perfect Game and was first-team all-Southeast Region.

Given Terry’s fast start, he might seem like a candidate for promotion within the system. But the Rangers organization has a logjam at the position, starting at the top with the big-league club.

For now, Terry must be content providing power in the middle of the Spokane lineup while biding his time for a promotion.

Repeating the same level for the third season has put a chip on the shoulder of the quiet leader.

“I have something to say,” Terry said about showing the NWL his power again. “But in the grand scheme of things, I’m doing what I need to do to help this team win every night.”

Terry’s personality in the clubhouse isn’t that of a cheerleader. Holmberg said he leads by example.

“He’s a guy that maybe won’t be a vocal leader, but he will be by how he performs,” Holmberg said.

Terry said it’s how you go about things that makes the difference: “I’m not as talkative, but I’m out there playing hard – showing how to do it – rather than being vocal.”

The home runs mean he has to talk with the media more often after games, though, even if it’s not his favorite thing to do.

“I enjoy it,” he said, laughing. “It means I probably did something good. As long as it’s helping the team.”

The Indians returned their top three RBI producers from last season – Terry, infielder Cristian Inoa and outfielder Miguel Aparicio. But that hasn’t gone quite as expected.

Inoa, who turns 19 on July 4, has been off to a slow start at the plate, slashing .213/.275./340 with two homers and four RBIs, while Aparicio – the Rangers’ No. 17 prospect – was promoted to Low-A Hickory last week.

Instead, Terry is getting help this season from infielder Diosbel Arias, a Cuban slashing .356/.441/.492 and catcher Isaias Quiroz, off to a good start at .296/.375/.630 with a two-homer game – the first of his career – earlier this season.

“Diosbel does an incredible job swinging at strikes and laying off a high percentage of balls outside of the zone,” Holmberg said.

“He’s able to get the barrel to the ball, and he hits balls hard. Sometimes they’re at people, but as of right now he’s finding some holes,” Holmberg added. “He’s a guy that can situationally hit, and I think he’s aware of what the game is asking him to do. He’s playing at a high level right now.”

Terry appreciates all the help he can get.

“We have guys in the middle of the order that know how to put together good at-bats, know how to drive in runs. I feel pretty confident about us producing runs this year,” said Terry.

“Everybody’s just up there, grinding out at-bats,” he added. “That’s definitely what the offense is supposed to do together.”

The bulk of the run production has fallen to the big man. His 19 RBIs are 13 more than Quiroz, second on the team.

“Big Curt, he’s there to put the barrel on the baseball,” Holmberg said. “He’s finding holes. Big RBIs. He’ll settle in and continue to be who he is.”

While the Indians lead the league in home runs with 19, they are sixth in runs scored, a prime reason the team is in last place in the North Division at 6-13. In fact, through 19 games the Indians have yet to win on the road (0-8).

The team returns to Avista Stadium tonight to start a three-game homestand against Tri-City.

“Great atmosphere. Love the fans,” Terry said. “They’re always on our side, whether we’re up or down. It’s just the whole experience here and around this league, and it’s great to be back.”

Terry, who leads the league by three homers over Salem-Keizer’s Robinson Medrano, looks to continue his power surge on the upcoming homestand.

“It’s looking pretty big out there now. Hope I can continue to get good wood on the ball.”

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