Keon Broxton rarely batted leadoff in high school, generally slotting into the second or third spot in the lineup instead. The Arizona Diamondbacks have been experimenting with Broxton in the leadoff role to take advantage of his terrific speed.
"Hitting leadoff is a big adjustment, but it's a lot of fun," Broxton said. "I'm liking it. It's a little different. You're up there seeing pitches, showing the team what the pitcher has."
Despite this new responsibility, the organization hasn't needed to emphasize pitch selectivity to Broxton, who has already drawn a team-high 37 walks this season.
"Not really, they just kinda threw me out there to see what I can do," revealed Broxton, who turned 20 in May. "I just developed it, learning how to read pitches better. It's helped out a lot, being able to recognize pitches earlier."
"I've done a lot of work in the cage, just working on seeing the ball, getting my front foot down early, and making good contact with the ball. I'm just trying to see the ball long and make good contact."
That pitch recognition is helping Broxton to an historic season for triples despite a rather long swing. He has the speed of a leadoff hitter but the power of a #3 hitter, which is a fantastic combination for a ton of triples. He has already broken South Bend's season single record for three-baggers.
All that's missing is for Broxton to hit left-handed, as lefties are able to pull the ball to right field and generally leg out more three-baggers than their right-handed counterparts. Broxton compensates for that with his ability to see the ball long and hit to the opposite field.
"I've worked a lot on that. A big part of my game is hitting the other way, confided Broxton. "Most of my triples are the other way. I think I've only had two or three that were in the left-center gap."
Broxton's triple last night - his minor-league leading 14th - was one of the exceptions hit to dead left field. It bounced off the wall after the left fielder made a leaping attempt for the ball. Broxton has hit so many triples this year that every time he hits the ball past the outfielders, he's thinking three.
That isn't to say that Broxton is going to run into outs trying to pad his triples total. Even though no major leaguer has legged out more than 23 triples in a season since 1925, Broxton doesn't have any goals as far as hitting triples goes.
"I did have a goal: hitting over .300, but I'm slacking on that right now," quipped Broxton, who is batting .235. "It's a little harder than everyone thinks it is."
Maybe so, but Broxton's blazing speed makes his hitting triples appear effortless.
Broxton taking batting practice:
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