Charles Staying Hard Through The Ball

BLUEFIELD, WV - Art Charles has gotten off to a hot start with rookie-class Bluefield. Through the first seven games of the Appalachian League season, the first baseman out of Bakersfield College is hitting .313 with three doubles, a triple, and four home runs, and he's done it after changing his swing mechanics in Extended Spring Training.

"It's a reflection of how hard he has worked," Bluefield hitting coach Kenny Graham said. "He's been swinging the bat really well. I can't sit here and say he is going to do this all year, but he's put himself in good positions to hit good pitches.

"His work ethic is second to none and it's getting better every day. He's learning to work right."

Several teams considered drafting Charles as a pitcher, but the Blue Jays' organization saw more potential for him at the plate. Now he's working to make the adjustment to getting more swings and becoming a professional hitter and full-time position player.

"I did both pretty much growing up," said Charles. "To actually put all of my concentration on hitting, to me, I feel like it is just very beneficial. I've benefited a lot from being able to take ground balls, get more repetitions around the bag, going in and hitting early."

"He had a future on the mound, but we liked him as a hitter," said Graham. "Once we got him, we love him as a hitter now."

Graham and Charles have been working to polish the mental and mechanical aspects of his swing. The results seem to show so far in Bluefield.

"We've been talking about me getting more aggressive and attacking pitches, having that killer instinct," Charles said. "I feel like I've been doing that.

"The goals that I've set for the season, so far I feel like I'm on pace to reach them. Physically, I'm here. But mentally, I want to make sure I'm strong and I'm aggressive, and have that confidence at all times."

Graham said they are also working to slow the game down for him.

"Mechanically he's got a great swing," said Graham. "But he's just got to concentrate, keep his head still, and swing at good pitches."

They worked during Extended Spring Training to clean up some of the mechanical issues with his swing.

"We did a lot of things with my swing," Charles said. "My loading mechanism with my hands, making sure I get my hands back and across my chest as I had a tendency to come under the ball a lot, just staying hard through the ball."

Listed at 6-foot-6, 221 pounds, Charles looks like he should be sacking quarterbacks.

"He's a big body," Graham said. "A big, tall, strong kid."

"I was always kind of a taller kid," said Charles. "In high school I was kind of slim, didn't fill out as much. I was kind of lanky. Now I've kind of filled out a bit."

Along with baseball, Charles played basketball and football in high school. He had a potential future in basketball, receiving several Division I scholarship offers.

"I just looked at the big picture and I thought baseball would be the way to go," said Charles.

Eliminating distractions and focusing on baseball is proving to be very beneficial for him.

"I stay out of trouble," said Charles. "That's the main thing, stay out of trouble, keep my nose clean. I don't go out with the wrong crowd.

"I just kind of have my group of friends that I stick with and hang out with. Don't do too much. Just keep to myself and stay safe so I can come out here and perform every day."

Graham has a lot of praise and confidence for Charles.

"He's always been a hard worker and he's always been a good kid," said Graham. "In the last inning, he's the guy we want up down one run with one swing to tie the ballgame up."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It's a reflection of how hard he has worked,\" Bluefield hitting coach Kenny Graham said. \"He's been swinging the bat really well. I can't sit here and say he is going to do this all year, but he's put himself in good positions to hit good pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"His work ethic is second to none and it's getting better every day. He's learning to work right.\"
\r\n
\r\nSeveral teams considered drafting Charles as a pitcher, but the Blue Jays' organization saw more potential for him at the plate. Now he's working to make the adjustment to getting more swings and becoming a professional hitter and full-time position player.
\r\n
\r\n\"I did both pretty much growing up,\" said Charles. \"To actually put all of my concentration on hitting, to me, I feel like it is just very beneficial. I've benefited a lot from being able to take ground balls, get more repetitions around the bag, going in and hitting early.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He had a future on the mound, but we liked him as a hitter,\" said Graham. \"Once we got him, we love him as a hitter now.\"
\r\n
\r\nGraham and Charles have been working to polish the mental and mechanical aspects of his swing. The results seem to show so far in Bluefield.
\r\n
\r\n\"We've been talking about me getting more aggressive and attacking pitches, having that killer instinct,\" Charles said. \"I feel like I've been doing that.
\r\n
\r\n\"The goals that I've set for the season, so far I feel like I'm on pace to reach them. Physically, I'm here. But mentally, I want to make sure I'm strong and I'm aggressive, and have that confidence at all times.\"
\r\n
\r\nGraham said they are also working to slow the game down for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"Mechanically he's got a great swing,\" said Graham. \"But he's just got to concentrate, keep his head still, and swing at good pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nThey worked during Extended Spring Training to clean up some of the mechanical issues with his swing.
\r\n
\r\n\"We did a lot of things with my swing,\" Charles said. \"My loading mechanism with my hands, making sure I get my hands back and across my chest as I had a tendency to come under the ball a lot, just staying hard through the ball.\"
\r\n
\r\nListed at 6-foot-6, 221 pounds, Charles looks like he should be sacking quarterbacks.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a big body,\" Graham said. \"A big, tall, strong kid.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I was always kind of a taller kid,\" said Charles. \"In high school I was kind of slim, didn't fill out as much. I was kind of lanky. Now I've kind of filled out a bit.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlong with baseball, Charles played basketball and football in high school. He had a potential future in basketball, receiving several Division I scholarship offers.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just looked at the big picture and I thought baseball would be the way to go,\" said Charles.
\r\n
\r\nEliminating distractions and focusing on baseball is proving to be very beneficial for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"I stay out of trouble,\" said Charles. \"That's the main thing, stay out of trouble, keep my nose clean. I don't go out with the wrong crowd.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just kind of have my group of friends that I stick with and hang out with. Don't do too much. Just keep to myself and stay safe so I can come out here and perform every day.\"
\r\n
\r\nGraham has a lot of praise and confidence for Charles.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's always been a hard worker and he's always been a good kid,\" said Graham. \"In the last inning, he's the guy we want up down one run with one swing to tie the ballgame up.\"
\r\n
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