Austin Needs To Stick To His Approach

Charleston's Tyler Austin leads the South Atlantic League in home runs and OPS, and he's among the league leaders in several other categories too. So even though he still has work to do in the other areas of his game, he and his coaches believe it's imperative that he doesn't deviate from his approach in order to work on other aspects just yet.

He finished his first month in the long-season leagues hitting .357 with nine home runs, 25 RBI, and 23 runs scored in just 21 South Atlantic League games, a year after hitting a combined .354 over two short-season league levels in 2011.

"I think I've been doing well but I am not doing this alone," Austin said. "This team we've got here is an unbelievable team. We play together and we all have fun. There's no way I could go on and say this is all me because it's not, it's a team game, and we have a phenomenal team here."

It's true that the Charleston lineup is incredibly deep and that they've gotten more than their fair share of pitching to date, but there's no doubt that Austin's hot-hitting has helped solidify an already impressive team and it really began back in Spring Training for him.

"Definitely, camp went real well for me," he continued. "I was happy with that, the way everything went. I'm real pleased with the results so far, I've jut got to keep going out the rest of the season and keep playing hard and getting [wins] for the team."

It's not as if he hasn't shown an ability to hit prior to this season either but it's been the rapidly developing power that has surprised some folks in the early going and Austin himself can feel a big difference in one short year.

"Yeah definitely, it goes back to the weight room," Austin said. "I try to get after it as much as I can in the weight room, I try to build my strength there. But I'd say it's definitely surprising to me thus far and I just hope I can continue it this season."

He's coming off a three-game set against Hickory this past weekend that saw him collect four hits and eleven RBI in three games, and three of the hits were towering home runs, including a grand slam in Saturday's 14-9 victory over the Crawdads.

"I just tried to slow it down and put some runs up for the team," he said humbly. "We needed it so I just tried to slow everything down, get a good pitch and do something with it. It came out in my favor."

"We were talking about it earlier with Gary Denbo -- last year I had him early on in spring and [the power] was raw," Charleston hitting coach Greg Colbrunn said. "He hit a few balls where you were like 'okay, okay' but now it's starting to play in the games.

"He's hit some balls a very long way so far. His swing and mechanics are so good, and his approach, if he stays with that approach he has quality at-bats one after another."

The power and resulting production have been both obvious and impressive. However, this is the game of baseball and there's always something to work on even when things are going well. With just five walks and 19 strikeouts, Austin knows there is still work to do.

"I'd say taking more walks and getting the pitch that I want instead of swinging at a few bad pitches every now and then," Austin said of the thing he would like to improve. "That and keeping my head down on the ball, and not trying to do too much sometimes.

"I go up there and sometimes try to do more than I should. I'd say that and getting a good pitch to hit, and draw more walks."

While it is refreshing for such a young player who is experiencing some great success to acknowledge that there are things still needed to be worked on, and with some critics wanting to see a bit more walks from him too, Austin's coaches believe now isn't the time to tackle that hurdle.

"Don't worry about it, just get a good pitch," Colbrunn said. "The walks will come. Walks are the result of not getting good pitches to hit. We don't want him to expand [his zone] and worry about getting on base and drawing walks. Just get a good pitch to hit and if it's not there take your walks.

"That's something that will develop over time. He's learning what he can or can't hit and he's been good so far not getting himself out. He's not swinging at a 3-1 pitch down and away [for example]. I don't necessarily want him to start thinking about walks but just get a good pitch to hit."

He certainly has been doing that very well through the first month of the season.

"He's swinging at good pitches and he's putting a good swing on it," Charleston manager Carlos Mendoza said. "He's playing with confidence obviously and things are going his way right now.

"He's not missing too many pitches. His work ethic is great. He's coming into the cages and working with our hitting coach Greg Colbrunn and he comes ready to play every night.

"He's staying with his approach. He goes to the plate looking for a pitch that he can drive and he's not chasing that many bad pitches. That's what is helping him right now, he's swinging at good pitches and putting good swings on it."

Mendoza managed Austin in the Gulf Coast League last year and, like Colbrunn, he's not looking for Austin to change anything in his approach right now because hidden behind the lower walk totals is an advanced hitting ability that does not need correcting at this point.

"Just the ability to make adjustments -- he's a very young hitter but at the same time he's got that ability to adjust from pitch to pitch pretty much and it's impressive," Mendoza said.

"Last year in the GCL he'd go 0-2 but then make that adjustment right away and that's what he's doing right now. It's very impressive at that age."

This is exactly the type of start that Austin had been hoping for and he was pretty confident coming into the season that it would go this well, this soon, for him.

"I had a good feeling," Austin said. "I'm real comfortable. I'm not really surprised too much. I guess with the home runs yeah, but with everything else not really. I've just been slowing it down, having fun, and everything else will take care of itself."

And that's exactly the mantra Colbrunn reiterates -- don't worry about walks, just stick to the approach, and everything else will take care of itself.

"He's brought a professional approach everyday and his work habits are great. He's keeping his feet on the ground and he's swinging it great. Hopefully he can keep it going," Colbrunn concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nHe finished his first month in the long-season leagues hitting .357 with nine home runs, 25 RBI, and 23 runs scored in just 21 South Atlantic League games, a year after hitting a combined .354 over two short-season league levels in 2011.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I've been doing well but I am not doing this alone,\" Austin said. \"This team we've got here is an unbelievable team. We play together and we all have fun. There's no way I could go on and say this is all me because it's not, it's a team game, and we have a phenomenal team here.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's true that the Charleston lineup is incredibly deep and that they've gotten more than their fair share of pitching to date, but there's no doubt that Austin's hot-hitting has helped solidify an already impressive team and it really began back in Spring Training for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"Definitely, camp went real well for me,\" he continued. \"I was happy with that, the way everything went. I'm real pleased with the results so far, I've jut got to keep going out the rest of the season and keep playing hard and getting [wins] for the team.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt's not as if he hasn't shown an ability to hit prior to this season either but it's been the rapidly developing power that has surprised some folks in the early going and Austin himself can feel a big difference in one short year.
\r\n
\r\n\"Yeah definitely, it goes back to the weight room,\" Austin said. \"I try to get after it as much as I can in the weight room, I try to build my strength there. But I'd say it's definitely surprising to me thus far and I just hope I can continue it this season.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe's coming off a three-game set against Hickory this past weekend that saw him collect four hits and eleven RBI in three games, and three of the hits were towering home runs, including a grand slam in Saturday's 14-9 victory over the Crawdads.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just tried to slow it down and put some runs up for the team,\" he said humbly. \"We needed it so I just tried to slow everything down, get a good pitch and do something with it. It came out in my favor.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"We were talking about it earlier with Gary Denbo -- last year I had him early on in spring and [the power] was raw,\" Charleston hitting coach Greg Colbrunn said. \"He hit a few balls where you were like 'okay, okay' but now it's starting to play in the games.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's hit some balls a very long way so far. His swing and mechanics are so good, and his approach, if he stays with that approach he has quality at-bats one after another.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe power and resulting production have been both obvious and impressive. However, this is the game of baseball and there's always something to work on even when things are going well. With just five walks and 19 strikeouts, Austin knows there is still work to do.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd say taking more walks and getting the pitch that I want instead of swinging at a few bad pitches every now and then,\" Austin said of the thing he would like to improve. \"That and keeping my head down on the ball, and not trying to do too much sometimes.
\r\n
\r\n\"I go up there and sometimes try to do more than I should. I'd say that and getting a good pitch to hit, and draw more walks.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile it is refreshing for such a young player who is experiencing some great success to acknowledge that there are things still needed to be worked on, and with some critics wanting to see a bit more walks from him too, Austin's coaches believe now isn't the time to tackle that hurdle.
\r\n
\r\n\"Don't worry about it, just get a good pitch,\" Colbrunn said. \"The walks will come. Walks are the result of not getting good pitches to hit. We don't want him to expand [his zone] and worry about getting on base and drawing walks. Just get a good pitch to hit and if it's not there take your walks.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's something that will develop over time. He's learning what he can or can't hit and he's been good so far not getting himself out. He's not swinging at a 3-1 pitch down and away [for example]. I don't necessarily want him to start thinking about walks but just get a good pitch to hit.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe certainly has been doing that very well through the first month of the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's swinging at good pitches and he's putting a good swing on it,\" Charleston manager Carlos Mendoza said. \"He's playing with confidence obviously and things are going his way right now.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's not missing too many pitches. His work ethic is great. He's coming into the cages and working with our hitting coach Greg Colbrunn and he comes ready to play every night.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's staying with his approach. He goes to the plate looking for a pitch that he can drive and he's not chasing that many bad pitches. That's what is helping him right now, he's swinging at good pitches and putting good swings on it.\"
\r\n
\r\nMendoza managed Austin in the Gulf Coast League last year and, like Colbrunn, he's not looking for Austin to change anything in his approach right now because hidden behind the lower walk totals is an advanced hitting ability that does not need correcting at this point.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just the ability to make adjustments -- he's a very young hitter but at the same time he's got that ability to adjust from pitch to pitch pretty much and it's impressive,\" Mendoza said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year in the GCL he'd go 0-2 but then make that adjustment right away and that's what he's doing right now. It's very impressive at that age.\"
\r\n
\r\nThis is exactly the type of start that Austin had been hoping for and he was pretty confident coming into the season that it would go this well, this soon, for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"I had a good feeling,\" Austin said. \"I'm real comfortable. I'm not really surprised too much. I guess with the home runs yeah, but with everything else not really. I've just been slowing it down, having fun, and everything else will take care of itself.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnd that's exactly the mantra Colbrunn reiterates -- don't worry about walks, just stick to the approach, and everything else will take care of itself.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's brought a professional approach everyday and his work habits are great. He's keeping his feet on the ground and he's swinging it great. Hopefully he can keep it going,\" Colbrunn concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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