Higgy Not Making Excuses

How Kyle Higashioka hit only .225 for the Charleston RiverDogs is one of the great mysteries in the Yankees farm system this past season. Ask anyone who watched him daily and they all said the same thing...he was just that unlucky. But 'Higgy' himself made no excuses and that's why he had a much better second half in 2010.

Kyle Higashioka hit just .225 in his first full minor league season, including a ridiculously low .192 average before the South Atlantic League All Star break. But those around him scratched their collective heads as to how he hit so low.

"Everybody knows ‘Higgy' is a better hitter than .225," Charleston teammate and fellow catcher J.R. Murphy said. "Obviously he's better than that.

"He definitely hit the hardest .225 anybody could ever hit. It is like he's always the unlucky one always hitting it right at guys, hitting hard right at guys."

That seemed to have been everyone's opinion of Higashioka in the first half despite his lack of statistical success.

"He went through a spell early in the year that's tough on young hitters – he was hitting balls hard every night but he was hitting them right at people," Yankees hitting coordinator James Rowson said. "That's tough to deal with because you'd like to see when you're hitting the ball hard that you're getting your hits.

"He was hitting balls hard and had nothing to show for it. And then when his swing wasn't feeling so good, it just put him in a hole. Being the competitor that he is, he was just trying so hard and pressing to dig out of that hole and it worked against him. He had some tough luck."

Higashioka himself, however, believes luck is what you make of it and even with countless eye witnesses in his corner as to how well he hit the ball in the early going despite the lower batting average, he still makes no excuses.

"I didn't have a very good approach at the plate," Higashioka opined. "I was looking to pull the ball too much instead of using the whole field. You don't always get the belt high, middle in fastballs. All I wanted to do was yank the ball.

"I was hitting balls hard but it still wasn't really the right approach. I was hitting the ball hard but everything I was doing I was hooking everything and I wasn't using the entire field.

"Once I started using the whole field more, balls started dropping. I think it was almost bad karma for having a bad approach. Someone was trying to teach me a lesson. Once I figured it out, I was hitting pretty well."

Not only did he go back to his center-to-opposite field approach in the second half of the season, he also learned to become much more aggressive at the plate. Routinely one who would take a couple of strikes before swinging the bat, Higashioka started swinging at more first pitches.

"Being able to work with him directly I saw him being able to game-plan a little bit better, he started understanding the importance of getting a good pitch to hit, he started to understand the importance of using the whole field, things that are going to make him a great hitter down the road," Rowson said.

"Although the numbers weren't exactly where he'd like to see them, I think it's a great year, a great year to build on. I'm excited about him."

He hit nearly 100 points better in the second half of the season [.290] and showed the same kind of power as he did in the first half, and it's because of that much better success that he can't give himself a pass for his lackluster first half despite hitting the ball consistently hard.

"The stats don't really lie because I went through a period of a long span of games where I wasn't hitting well," Higashioka said. "I had to figure it out and I felt I did to a certain extent.

"I don't feel like I know everything about hitting but now I have a good idea of how to be successful at the plate. It showed in the second half where the only thing I changed was my mindset. I'm trying to put it all together and have a really good year next season."

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\r\n \r\n\r\nKyle Higashioka hit just .225 in his first full minor league season, including a ridiculously low .192 average before the South Atlantic League All Star break. But those around him scratched their collective heads as to how he hit so low.
\r\n
\r\n\"Everybody knows ‘Higgy' is a better hitter than .225,\" Charleston teammate and fellow catcher J.R. Murphy said. \"Obviously he's better than that.
\r\n
\r\n\"He definitely hit the hardest .225 anybody could ever hit. It is like he's always the unlucky one always hitting it right at guys, hitting hard right at guys.\"
\r\n
\r\nThat seemed to have been everyone's opinion of Higashioka in the first half despite his lack of statistical success.
\r\n
\r\n\"He went through a spell early in the year that's tough on young hitters – he was hitting balls hard every night but he was hitting them right at people,\" Yankees hitting coordinator James Rowson said. \"That's tough to deal with because you'd like to see when you're hitting the ball hard that you're getting your hits.
\r\n
\r\n\"He was hitting balls hard and had nothing to show for it. And then when his swing wasn't feeling so good, it just put him in a hole. Being the competitor that he is, he was just trying so hard and pressing to dig out of that hole and it worked against him. He had some tough luck.\"
\r\n
\r\nHigashioka himself, however, believes luck is what you make of it and even with countless eye witnesses in his corner as to how well he hit the ball in the early going despite the lower batting average, he still makes no excuses.
\r\n
\r\n\"I didn't have a very good approach at the plate,\" Higashioka opined. \"I was looking to pull the ball too much instead of using the whole field. You don't always get the belt high, middle in fastballs. All I wanted to do was yank the ball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was hitting balls hard but it still wasn't really the right approach. I was hitting the ball hard but everything I was doing I was hooking everything and I wasn't using the entire field.
\r\n
\r\n\"Once I started using the whole field more, balls started dropping. I think it was almost bad karma for having a bad approach. Someone was trying to teach me a lesson. Once I figured it out, I was hitting pretty well.\"
\r\n
\r\nNot only did he go back to his center-to-opposite field approach in the second half of the season, he also learned to become much more aggressive at the plate. Routinely one who would take a couple of strikes before swinging the bat, Higashioka started swinging at more first pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"Being able to work with him directly I saw him being able to game-plan a little bit better, he started understanding the importance of getting a good pitch to hit, he started to understand the importance of using the whole field, things that are going to make him a great hitter down the road,\" Rowson said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Although the numbers weren't exactly where he'd like to see them, I think it's a great year, a great year to build on. I'm excited about him.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe hit nearly 100 points better in the second half of the season [.290] and showed the same kind of power as he did in the first half, and it's because of that much better success that he can't give himself a pass for his lackluster first half despite hitting the ball consistently hard.
\r\n
\r\n\"The stats don't really lie because I went through a period of a long span of games where I wasn't hitting well,\" Higashioka said. \"I had to figure it out and I felt I did to a certain extent.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't feel like I know everything about hitting but now I have a good idea of how to be successful at the plate. It showed in the second half where the only thing I changed was my mindset. I'm trying to put it all together and have a really good year next season.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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