Coats a Work in Progress

West Tenn shortstop Buck Coats is off to one of the best starts of his minor league career. The 22-year-old is batting .302 through his first 31 games with 16 RBI and nine stolen bases. He remains unsatisfied with his well-documented less-than-perfect defense, but admits to taking a few different approaches to his game this year.

Coats has warmed up considerably this month. After hitting .250 in April, Coats entered Friday batting .417 (15-for-36) in May. He has been caught stealing only once all year.

"I've been putting in some extra work with (Diamond Jaxx Hitting Coach) Von Joshua, trying to get some things down right," Coats said. "Earlier, I was uncomfortable. The more at-bats I got, the more I started settling in and swinging at strikes."

Coats has struck out 22 times to go with 13 walks. He has shown better discipline at the plate this year as opposed to a season ago at Class-A Daytona, where he fanned almost three times to every one walk. Most of his starts this year have come in the No. 6 spot in the lineup.

"With the way our team is configured right now, it doesn't matter where we hit, because everyone is great hitters," Coats said. "I'm happy to be in this lineup. We stick together; we play hard; we play good. The main thing is everyone looks out for one another and we pick each other up."

As for his defense, Coats has a team-high eight errors this season. His 36 a year ago at Daytona were second in the Florida State League only to St. Lucie's Corey Ragsdale, a fellow shortstop.

"I'm still not satisfied with it (defense)," Coats said. "I go out and play hard every day, but some things don't work out as well as I want them to. I still take my groundballs every day. Things will get better."

Last week, veteran shortstop Nate Frese was demoted to West Tenn from the Triple-A club. Frese is a bit craftier with the glove, despite Coats having the advantage with the bat.

So does Frese's sudden appearance intimidate or worry Coats?

"I'm not sure what's going to happen," said Coats. "He hasn't been here long. You know, Nate's a good guy; I learned a lot from him in spring training."

Coats went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts in Friday's West Tenn loss at Chattanooga.

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