If you ask anyone from Maryland about the month of August, the first thing that will come to mind is the heat and humidity. However, there is one thing hotter than the month of August in Maryland-- Joe Mahoney. The 6-7, 255 lbs. Mahoney, drafted in this year's 6th round out of the University of Richmond, has seen most of his playing time at first base for the short-season Aberdeen Ironbirds. Though Mahoney's numbers, as a whole, look solid; his transition to professional baseball was not an easy one. Joe struggled in his early experience with wooden bats and was only able to collect 27 hits in the months of June and July. Thus far in August, he has 21 hits and a .429/.434/.776 batting line.
Prior to Mahoney's hot August, his track record, talent, and potential had left many fans wondering why he was struggling to hit for power and average, something that almost came naturally for him at Richmond.
"Early in the year, [inside pitches] were [jamming me] and my hands were a little lazy." Mahoney offered as an explanation. "I was used to using a metal bat and got away with that and still hit it out. With wood bats, you definitely have to change your swing."
"The roaming instructor came in and moved me off the plate a little bit and working to get my hands out and use my big body," Mahoney told Inside The Warehouse. "I've moved off the plate a little bit, keep my hands back and let my hands do the work."
Everything started to fall into place on August 2nd when Mahoney hit an 11th inning walk-off double for the Ironbirds.
"I was just looking for something up, trying to hit it to the outfield, try to tie it up, and not ground into a double play," an excited and bloodied up Mahoney stated after his teammates pummeled him out of gratitude.
Somebody must have told manager Andy "Etch" Etchebarren that this hit would catapult Mahoney's numbers to where they are now.
"Mahoney has been swinging the bat better the last 10 days." Etch said after the Agust 2nd game. "[Mahoney] is much quicker to the ball, shorter to the ball, and I think he's going to start hitting here shortly."
Mahoney's recent power surge is no accident, especially after the adjustments, and a recent road trip. Joe talked about how hitting in a pitchers' park like Ripken Stadium affects his game.
"It's a little different here. It's a little harder to hit it out of the [404 foot] gap, you have to take it down the line [to hit a home run]," Mahoney explained. "So, you have to hit the ball hard, put the barrel on the ball and if it happens it happens."
The subtle changes to Mahoney's swing are tough to notice from the press box, but the sound of the ball on this big bat and his numbers are not. To give a better idea of how well
August is treating Mahoney, he has hammered 9 of his 16 extra-base hits (including 4 homers, all on the road), he has raised his slugging percentage to .487 after a rough start, and he has surpassed his entire season RBI total with 14 RBI in the first 14 games of the month.
The Orioles' Director of Scouting, Joe Jordan, weighed in on the Orioles' fourth selection from the 2007 draft.
"Joe Mahoney has top of the scale raw power and he's making progress as a hitter," Jordan commented. "But, again, it's in there, and that's what you got and you chase- power. Power is hard to find."
Jordan also later added that "the guys that figure out how to hit the pitchers in the strike zone are going to be able to use their power; the guys that don't are going to hit one on occasion, and [their power] is not going to play."
At a time when a lot of first year players out of college are burning out from a season that started well before January, Mahoney is just starting to accelerate to the finish of his first season. He might be the only person in Maryland wishing August would never end.
"Things are just going good right now. I don't know what to say!"
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