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Twins’ Max Kepler boosts Rookie of the Year cred with three-HR night

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Minnesota Twins rookie outfielder Max Kepler may not be the favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award this season, but he most certainly is doing everything possible to get his name into the conversation.

Kepler’s latest flash of brilliance came Monday night when he blasted three home runs during a 12-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

The homer barrage was part of a 4-for-6, six RBI night for Kepler, 23, as he became only the fifth player in Twins history to hit three home runs in a single game.

“It’s definitely an honor to be added to that list,” Kepler said, via MLB.com. “Those guys are almost legend status.”

All three Kepler homers Monday night were of the line-drive variety. But that didn’t prevent him from driving the balls deep.

Kepler attempted to downplay the display of power following the game.

“I’m not a home run hitter, so it’s rare,” Kepler said, via MLB.com. “I’m just trying to hit singles. I’m just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard. I’m thankful for the backspin I was blessed with.”

With an absolutely torrid stretch of baseball during July and now into August, Kepler has started to generate some buzz as a potential Rookie of the Year contender. Eleven of his 14 home runs this season have come in his last 25 games. After Monday’s three-homer night, Kepler leads American League rookies in the long ball and he’s second in OPS behind Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin.

While slugger Miguel Sano, speedy outfielder Byron Buxton and pitcher Jose Berrios — who earned the victory on Monday after being called back up from the minors — usually draw most of the attention when it comes to the Twins’ battery of young players, Kepler is quickly establishing his own reputation as a prospect on the rise.

And if Kepler can somehow continue playing close to as well as he has over the past month? Perhaps he will garner serious consideration for AL Rookie of the Year at season’s end.