Vettleson Developing Into Two-Way Player

Outfielder Drew Vettleson has shown improvement from a year ago when he still produced well enough to earn the team-MVP honors for the rookie level Princeton Rays by hitting .282 with seven homeruns and 40 RBIs in 61 games. The 2010 first-round pick has made adjustments at the plate, become a sniper in the outfield, and perhaps most importantly, improved his mental outlook towards the game.

The mental aspect of the game has been a key factor for Drew Vettleson's success on the baseball diamond in 2012. His mindset is to never take errors to the plate and strikeouts to the field.

"It's all in my mind," the Hot Rods outfielder, said of his game this season.

On the season, Vettleson is currently hitting a solid .295/.357/.450 with 8 home runs and 40 RBI. He has been a very consistent wherever the team is playing and is currently hitting .312 at home while holding a .286 average on the road.

Hot Rods manager, Brady Williams, likes that Vettleson doesn't give away at-bats and believes that he really hasn't had a bad stretch this season.

"He's been consistent all season," Williams said.

Vettleson, who was ranked by Baseball America as the best hitter for average in the Tampa Bay Rays system entering 2012, was also named the 8th best prospect in the organization by Rays Digest this spring.

"It's an honor to be a top prospect in a great organization," Vettleson said about the recognition he has received for his talent.

A smooth and relaxed swing has contributed to many of Vettleson's long balls.

"When I drive the ball it's because I have a nice easy swing," Vettleson said.

Halfway through the season Vettleson said he found himself real tight at the plate, often locking up on his swing. Now he focuses on staying relaxed and loose, while standing up taller in the batters box. This slight adjustment has proven to be a good one, for after hitting just .250 in May, Vettleson hit .340 in June.

Williams has seen the improvements out of Vettleson this season and his efforts to refine his craft.

"He's shortened up and he's not trying to kill the ball every time," Williams said.

Vettleson's offense has been very impressive this season and he can usually be found hitting in the three-hole, but the aspect of his game that can't go unnoticed is his defensive play.

Vettleson's expertise on defense is his ability to throw the ball to any base right on the money and he currently has an unreal 16 outfield assists, which leads the Midwest League. The 6'1" 185 pound outfielder as been tested at times this season, but teams quickly learned not to challenge him on the basepaths.

In high school Vettleson didn't see himself as much of a defensive player, but as a professional, it has turned into one of the strongest parts of his game. Once arriving to the pro game, Vettleson said he quickly learned how much the Rays' organization stresses defensive play.

"This is really something I have to put my time into," Vettleson said. "I'm excited I can become a hitting threat and throwing threat."

The secret to success for Vettleson when throwing out runners is slowing himself down when making plays.

"You don't want to speed through your throw because the ball could go everywhere," Vettleson said.

Vettleson's eyes get big at the opportunity to gun down a runner.

"It's almost as fun as hitting a homerun, it's a great feeling," Vettleson said.

Austin Nichols is the Bowling Green beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nichols_HotRods.


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