Charles Taking The Next Step

VANCOUVER, CA - Vancouver Canadians first baseman Art Charles is known predominantly for his hulking build and his tremendous raw power, but it's a polished approach at the plate that has paid dividends this season and allowed him to take the next step in the Toronto Blue Jays system

Charles arrived in Vancouver and was immediately placed in the middle of the Canadians batting order. Coming to a team involved in a tight playoff race and being expected to contribute can be intimidating but he was ready for the challenge.

"The baseball's better – it's that next level that's a little bit more competitive. Here [pitchers] throw their fastball and they can control their off speed [pitches]," Charles said.

"It makes it a little more difficult but I mean that's baseball, it's something you're going to have to deal with and I'm welcome to the challenge."

Last season Charles led Bluefield in home runs (11), doubles (18), walks (39), and RBI (61), but his 89 strikeouts were tops in the Appalachian League and he hit just .240 in 68 games.

The positive signs were evident but there was still work to do. Re-assigned to Bluefield out of Extended Spring Training, Charles took the opportunity to refine his plate discipline and become a more effective batter at a level he was familiar with.

"I learned to be more patient and I improved my command of the strike zone, and to be more consistent with my at-bats and taking my walks– if you take your walks good things happen," he said. "Last year I would try to do too much in situations and I would get anxious."

In 31 games with Bluefield, Charles lifted his on-base percentage to an astonishing .461 while slugging .576 and earning his promotion to Vancouver. However those results didn't immediately translate to the Northwest League; in his first five games he went 3 for 19 and struck out nine times.

"First of all I felt coming here [that] I got away from my approach. I was a little anxious and I kind of reverted back to what I was doing last year in Bluefield," Charles said. "I feel like that's been big for me as far as the transition. Just stay within myself and control what I can control and just continue to be patient and have good at-bats – I feel like that's helped."

Canadians hitting coach Dave Pano has helped Charles adapt to the changed approach that opposing pitchers are using against him. He's also recommended adjustments that will prevent Charles from chasing pitches.

In his last 15 games the 6-foot-6 first baseman from Bakersfield, California is hitting .271, with an on-base percentage of .328 and has collected 12 extra base hits – including three home runs.

"The report they sent me from Bluefield is that he had a better command of the strike zone and he was seeing a lot of breaking stuff," Pano said. "Here it's different, he's seeing fastballs early and then he's seeing breaking stuff late. If he hits the fastball early he doesn't have to worry about that breaking stuff late.

"We're trying to work with him on really getting his backside into it a little bit. Sometimes he gets out a little bit and we want him to stay balanced and rotating on his backside," Pano continued.

"You see the power that he shows and we think the guy has a chance to hit down the road. He just has to get a better command of his strike zone and maybe focus in on some pitches that he knows he can hit instead of chasing some he knows he can't."

Charles is working hard on his defensive game as well as spending plenty of time in the batting cage with Pano.

"I've taken a lot of ground balls to get used to the terrain, to get used to the field, with ground balls obviously the more you take the better you get at it," Charles said. "Same to do with Pano, he's been helping on the tee, he's been short-tossing with me. It's more just recognizing and attacking the fastball because I'm getting more fastballs to hit here but I've been fouling them off or missing.

"[Pano] preaches hitting that fastball and that's something I'm good at and I just wasn't doing it. We've been working on plate discipline, staying in command of my strike zone and getting back to when I was getting those walks and just being more patient at the plate and attacking the outside pitches instead of just fouling it off and attack that pitch to put it in play and do something with it."

Power hitters are sought after like no other position in baseball. There's a certain glamor attached to the capability of changing a game with one big swing. There's certainly still room for improvement but Pano believes Charles is certainly worth keeping an eye on because of how valuable that skill set is.

"We don't have that many guys in our organization with that kind of power potential," Pano said. "Right now he's going to swing and miss at some pitches – which a lot of power hitters do, but we think he's got a chance to hit for some power."

The ability to hit for power is always going to be Charles' biggest strength; it's the attribute that defines his game. The next step is to maintain a disciplined approach at the plate and continue improving pitch identification.

"Consistency is the biggest thing I want to accomplish, I mean that's the biggest thing in baseball," Charles said. "To come out every day with that ferocity and that demeanor that I'm going to handle my business on the field.

"You gotta bring the same approach, the same at-bats to the table the next day, the next night, so I feel like that's the biggest thing just to be more consistent with my game, defensively and offensively."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nCharles arrived in Vancouver and was immediately placed in the middle of the Canadians batting order. Coming to a team involved in a tight playoff race and being expected to contribute can be intimidating but he was ready for the challenge.
\r\n
\r\n\"The baseball's better – it's that next level that's a little bit more competitive. Here [pitchers] throw their fastball and they can control their off speed [pitches],\" Charles said.
\r\n
\r\n\"It makes it a little more difficult but I mean that's baseball, it's something you're going to have to deal with and I'm welcome to the challenge.\"
\r\n
\r\nLast season Charles led Bluefield in home runs (11), doubles (18), walks (39), and RBI (61), but his 89 strikeouts were tops in the Appalachian League and he hit just .240 in 68 games.
\r\n
\r\nThe positive signs were evident but there was still work to do. Re-assigned to Bluefield out of Extended Spring Training, Charles took the opportunity to refine his plate discipline and become a more effective batter at a level he was familiar with.
\r\n
\r\n\"I learned to be more patient and I improved my command of the strike zone, and to be more consistent with my at-bats and taking my walks– if you take your walks good things happen,\" he said. \"Last year I would try to do too much in situations and I would get anxious.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn 31 games with Bluefield, Charles lifted his on-base percentage to an astonishing .461 while slugging .576 and earning his promotion to Vancouver. However those results didn't immediately translate to the Northwest League; in his first five games he went 3 for 19 and struck out nine times.
\r\n
\r\n\"First of all I felt coming here [that] I got away from my approach. I was a little anxious and I kind of reverted back to what I was doing last year in Bluefield,\" Charles said. \"I feel like that's been big for me as far as the transition. Just stay within myself and control what I can control and just continue to be patient and have good at-bats – I feel like that's helped.\"
\r\n
\r\nCanadians hitting coach Dave Pano has helped Charles adapt to the changed approach that opposing pitchers are using against him. He's also recommended adjustments that will prevent Charles from chasing pitches.
\r\n
\r\nIn his last 15 games the 6-foot-6 first baseman from Bakersfield, California is hitting .271, with an on-base percentage of .328 and has collected 12 extra base hits – including three home runs.
\r\n
\r\n\"The report they sent me from Bluefield is that he had a better command of the strike zone and he was seeing a lot of breaking stuff,\" Pano said. \"Here it's different, he's seeing fastballs early and then he's seeing breaking stuff late. If he hits the fastball early he doesn't have to worry about that breaking stuff late.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're trying to work with him on really getting his backside into it a little bit. Sometimes he gets out a little bit and we want him to stay balanced and rotating on his backside,\" Pano continued.
\r\n
\r\n\"You see the power that he shows and we think the guy has a chance to hit down the road. He just has to get a better command of his strike zone and maybe focus in on some pitches that he knows he can hit instead of chasing some he knows he can't.\"
\r\n
\r\nCharles is working hard on his defensive game as well as spending plenty of time in the batting cage with Pano.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've taken a lot of ground balls to get used to the terrain, to get used to the field, with ground balls obviously the more you take the better you get at it,\" Charles said. \"Same to do with Pano, he's been helping on the tee, he's been short-tossing with me. It's more just recognizing and attacking the fastball because I'm getting more fastballs to hit here but I've been fouling them off or missing.
\r\n
\r\n\"[Pano] preaches hitting that fastball and that's something I'm good at and I just wasn't doing it. We've been working on plate discipline, staying in command of my strike zone and getting back to when I was getting those walks and just being more patient at the plate and attacking the outside pitches instead of just fouling it off and attack that pitch to put it in play and do something with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nPower hitters are sought after like no other position in baseball. There's a certain glamor attached to the capability of changing a game with one big swing. There's certainly still room for improvement but Pano believes Charles is certainly worth keeping an eye on because of how valuable that skill set is.
\r\n
\r\n\"We don't have that many guys in our organization with that kind of power potential,\" Pano said. \"Right now he's going to swing and miss at some pitches – which a lot of power hitters do, but we think he's got a chance to hit for some power.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe ability to hit for power is always going to be Charles' biggest strength; it's the attribute that defines his game. The next step is to maintain a disciplined approach at the plate and continue improving pitch identification.
\r\n
\r\n\"Consistency is the biggest thing I want to accomplish, I mean that's the biggest thing in baseball,\" Charles said. \"To come out every day with that ferocity and that demeanor that I'm going to handle my business on the field.
\r\n
\r\n\"You gotta bring the same approach, the same at-bats to the table the next day, the next night, so I feel like that's the biggest thing just to be more consistent with my game, defensively and offensively.\"
\r\n
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