Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Jason Hart

FRISCO, Texas – Between shortstop Jurickson Profar and third baseman Mike Olt, the Frisco RoughRiders have opened the season with two of the Texas Rangers' top prospects on their roster. Lone Star Dugout sat down with Frisco hitting coach Jason Hart to discuss Profar, Olt, Engel Beltre, and Leury Garcia.

Jason Cole: I want to start off by talking about Jurickson Profar. After going 3-for-4 with a home run tonight, it seems like he's starting to break through at the plate.

Jason Hart: Yeah, he's slowing it down a little bit. He's not worrying about getting hits. He was just trying to go up there and hit the ball hard today. He's basically doing what the game asks him to do instead of trying to create something. So, I think he is slowing it down a lot. I think he looked really good today at the plate.

Cole: What has been your overall impression of his start?

Hart: He's just adjusting. He has had some good at-bats. He's hit some balls––he's hit some ‘at ‘em' balls. He just needed some things to fall for him here and there. But once that started happening, he started trying to create stuff. And so we just had to slow him down and let him know, ‘Hey, you're a good hitter. You're going to get your hits. You've just got to go up there and do your job.'

Cole: You've now worked with Profar in each of the last two seasons, with Hickory and Frisco. In your mind, how has he developed since 2011?

Hart: He has definitely gotten stronger. He's definitely gotten stronger. He can hit the ball a little bit harder and a little farther. He has still got the same heart at the plate. He's going to compete his butt off in every at-bat. And he wants to win. He wants to win the battle every day.

Cole: Tell me about his pitch recognition skills. It seems like he just sees and tracks the ball better out of the pitcher's hand than most guys his age.

Hart: He is blessed with some great eyes and some great hands. You put those two together, and it's going to be a good hitter. He has just got to trust his ability and just let it happen and not try to make something out of nothing––just let it happen.

Cole: I know you didn't have Engel Beltre last season, but he's obviously off to a much better start in 2012. Can you talk about what he's doing at the plate right now?

Hart: He is just trying to hit the ball. He's not going up there with an agenda of what he's trying to do. He's just trying to hit the ball hard where it's pitched. He is trying to produce runs. I think that is helping him a little bit as far as going up there and trying to drive in runs and be a run producer rather than a table setter. He's swinging a little freer and a little less calculated. So hopefully we can keep that going throughout the year.

Cole: Do you feel that, in doing that, the overall approach has improved from where he was last season?

Hart: It's definitely going to take his brain out of it a little bit––less thinking and more just being aggressive. Because he's already aggressive. So whenever he tries to tone it down, it makes him think. So just take that brain out of play and have him just go up there and hit the ball where it's pitched.

Cole: What are you working on with Mike Olt right now?

Hart: With Olt, it's just staying loose. Just staying loose and getting ready to hit on time because those hands are lightning fast. So if he gets ready on time, he can use them. Basically it's just staying loose and getting ready to hit.

Cole: Olt is making the jump to Double-A after only 69 games at High-A Myrtle Beach last season. How do you feel he has performed so far?

Hart: I think he is off to the start we were hoping for. It's only going to hopefully get better from there. He's just going to keep improving. He's going to get more maturity. The more AB's he gets, he's going to become a better hitter.

Cole: The last guy I want to ask you about is Leury Garcia and his plus-plus speed. Can you talk about his development at the plate and maybe getting him to use that speed to his advantage more often?

Hart: Developing his hitter identification. He's a speed and contact guy. He has got to be able to get on top of the ball. He's starting to learn that. I think his swings are getting shorter and smaller. He has got just enough pop that makes him kind of want to hit the ball a little bit harder. But he's going to learn. We're banging it into his head. All of the coaching staff––we're working hard with him. He has got a lot of tools and a lot of ability.

Cole: Garcia is obviously a switch hitter. Is it any different from either side of the plate with him?

Hart: He feels really comfortable from the right side. That's his natural side. So he is going to constantly have to battle that left side and just get the hands ready to hit early and juts use his hands. Take that body out of the swing.

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