Strikeouts No Concern For Aune

CHARLESTON, SC - Coming into his first full season as an active member of this Charleston team, Austin Aune was looking for improvement on two things: consistent hitting and solid defense. Aune admits to struggling at the plate the past few years, but he and his coaches are not concerned in the least bit. All they are looking for is continuous improvement.

"You’re looking at a kid who’s got a lot of power and can hit the ball hard, but right now we are looking for good pitches he can hit,” Charleston hitting coach Greg Colbrunn said.

The 6-foot-2 Texas native had struggled quite a bit in his previous two seasons in the short-season leagues but worked hard in the offseason and in Spring Training in preparation for this long coming season. Straight out of high school, he knew he had a lot to prove.

"I’ve been working with my trainer for the last few years and we really have been working on a lot of explosive stuff, speed and strength," Aune commented. "I was preparing for a long season, coming to Charleston for a full season after being down for three years, and so far it’s been working out pretty well for me."

Back at Spring Training, his coaches were looking for that spark from the left-handed hitter. He had something special about him that his coaches noticed immediately.

"At Spring Training we saw a kid who’s got some power and who’s able to swing on fastballs,” Riverdogs manager Luis Dorante said. "He’s very athletic; that’s one thing that impressed me down there. Playing shortstop the year before and now in the outfield, you see a lot of improvement, and he’s got a good arm."

While they were impressed with his athleticism and aggressiveness on the field, they were initially concerned with his consistency at the plate. In 2014, he tallied a whopping 97 strikeouts in just 225 at bats, meaning he struck out 43 percent of the time. Now, this may make coaches a little nervous to put a hitter like that at the plate, but Colbrunn isn’t worried at all, and Aune isn’t letting the numbers get him down.

"Yes, the [strikeout] numbers are high," Colbrunn admitted. "They have been high his entire career, but right now all we are looking for is improvement. The hope is that over time he will be able to look for those good pitches and the strikeouts will continue to drop."

Aune, who is hitting a solid .289 so far this season, has once again been piling up the strikeouts. He leads the Charleston squad with 41 strikeouts in just 90 at-bats so far but also leads the team in extra-base hits [15].

Like anything, practice makes perfect and Aune is ready to keep working on his game and getting better and better everyday.

"It’s baseball---you’re going to strike out," Aune said. "That’s the reality of it. You just have to expect it and keep working on it in the cage and in batting practice."

His coaches couldn’t agree more and they love the way he plays and they love what he brings to the table.

“He’s aggressive with his defense. He’s able to get jumps and routes in the outfield. He’s got a strong and aggressive arm,” Dorante mentioned.

“He’s the total package," Colbrunn added. "He plays good defense. It’s the tools that he has. You see him out there, good strong at-bats. He can hit the ball a long ways. He can play defense and he is able to cover a lot of ground in the outfield, and he maximizes his ability."

And from the looks of it, he’s been able to help the Riverdogs land in first place in the South Atlantic League. He has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with in the early going this season and he will continue to work through the challenges at the plate. One step at a time, Austin Aune will get there. It’s just a matter of time.

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