Brian Pellegrini did something in his last game that he had never done since coming to the Lexington Legends on May 16.
He did not reach base, going 0-for-4.
Since being moved from High-A Lancaster, Pellegrini has been mostly a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
"He's a power hitter, and he needs to drive the ball. He understands that," Legends Manager Tom Lawless said. "That's his value to any club he plays for, is to drive in runs. Hitting in the middle of the lineup and drive in runs. He's done a nice job for us."
Pellegrini, a 6-foot-1, 240-pounder, began last season in extended spring training. He joined the Legends in time to play in 87 of the team's 138 games (80 in left field, seven as designated hitter). He finished as the club leader in home runs (21) and RBI (69).
That earned him a promotion to Lancaster this season.
Over 30 California League games, he hit .171, with seven homers and 15 RBI.
"He wasn't playing every day up there. That was the problem," Lawless said. "There was just no room for him to play up there. He gets down here, and he has a chance to play every day, and he knows he's going to be in the lineup every day. So he comes ready to go out there and play, whether it's DH, first base or — we know he can play the outfield, too."
Batting cleanup in all 21 games with Lexington, Pellegrini reached base in his first 20 games. When an early five-game hitting streak was snapped, he came back with an eight-game blitz — hits in 13 of 14 games. He's played first base in 16 games, split time between first and left field in another and had two starts as DH. He has found his stroke, providing the Legends with sorely needed power.
"They needed it just as badly as I needed it," Pellegrini said. "I was up in High-A, I got off to not as good a start as I wanted. So I'm back down here to help these guys out and, especially, to help myself out and get back on track."
Raised in the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby, Ohio, Pellegrini admired the productive but socially challenged Indians outfielder Albert Belle.
"He wasn't the greatest people person," Pellegrini said. "But I'm a fan. I liked to watch him. He gave it his all day in and day out, and you can't complain about that."
Besides baseball, Pellegrini competed in basketball and football for Willoughby South High School. He earned All-State football honors at middle linebacker and played tight end.
Pellegrini went on to St. Bonaventure University and was an All-American and two-time player of the year in the Atlantic-10 Conference. As a freshman, he helped the Bonnies win the A-10 title.
"It was one of the greatest things. They'd never won it in the college's history," Pellegrini said. "So to be able to get the first one under the belt was a big accomplishment for me and the school."
The Astros drafted him in 2007, 12th round.
Besides retooling his offense with the Legends, Pellegrini wants to prove his defensive ability.
"So far this year, I've been playing a great first base, not making mistakes, making good plays and all that stuff," he said. "I know they want to make sure I've got the glove and, so far, I've proven to them that I can play first base day in and day out."
Pellegrini has widened his stance a bit here, enabling him to better keep his weight back and not jump toward the ball. With 10 walks to 18 strikeouts (through Monday), Pellegrini is trying to be a "contact guy."
Mostly, at 24, he wants to show that he can play.
"This is a game of adjustments," he said. "I had to do something with my swing, and I felt what I've done so far has been the right thing. And I'm just hoping to stick with that, and it will be the right way."