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Snider continues to power sizzling 51s

If Travis Snider keeps this up, he won’t be one of the top prospects in the minor leagues for long.

The 21-year-old outfielder has spent the past week lighting up Pacific Coast League pitching and proving he might not be far away from a permanent spot in the major leagues.

A 6-foot, 235-pound left-handed hitter, Snider smashed a jaw-dropping three-run home run to center field in the first inning Sunday as Las Vegas downed Salt Lake 18-6 for its seventh straight win.

Snider’s blast easily cleared the 20-foot-high center-field fence in the deepest part of Cashman Field, 433 feet from home plate.

His home run in Saturday’s game against Salt Lake traveled almost as far.

Snider, who went 1-for-3 with two walks in Sunday’s game, is 16-for-27 with four homers and 16 RBIs in his last eight games. His last nine hits all have been for extra bases.

”I’m just getting in there and allowing things to happen,” said Snider, who was sidelined from early June until July 2 with a lower back injury. ”Since I’ve come back from the injury, I’ve worked really hard with hitting coaches in the organization to fix some mechanical errors that I’ve had. Things just weren’t translating based on the pressure I was putting on myself.”

That’s not the case anymore.

”When you’re driving the ball to all fields, you’re seeing the ball well,” he said. ”That’s what it’s been the last 10 games or so. Whether it goes out to center or goes out to right, as long as it goes out and nobody catches it, I’m happy.”

More importantly, Snider looks comfortable at the plate.

”Travis has just been really trusting his work in pregame and staying in a nice routine,” 51s manager Mike Basso said. “It just shows in the game.”

A first-round pick in the 2006 draft, Snider played 24 games for Toronto last season and 32 more this year, hitting .242 with three homers and 12 RBIs with the Blue Jays this season before being demoted to Las Vegas on May 24.

”Everybody plays this game because they want to play at the big-league level,” Snider said. ”For me, being there and coming down to Triple-A was a new experience. I had never been demoted in my life. It’s been a great learning experience for me, dealing with the negatives and being able to go back to square one.”

Snider is ranked as the seventh-best major league prospect by MLB.com.

”He’s been to the big leagues and been back down,” Basso said. “He knows what it takes to get there and what it will take to stay there.”

Snider’s run has helped the 51s reel off seven straight wins and move within one game (54-55) of the .500 mark. In that time, the 51s have outscored the opposition 66-19.

On Sunday, the 51s belted a season-best six homers. The 18 runs also are a season high.

Las Vegas was 26-40 after a loss to Reno on June 16.

”We have just played better baseball,” Basso said. ”It’s a credit to the players and what they’ve done.”

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