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"My swing has changed from college to professional ball, so that's the biggest thing for me, using the wood bat," he said, describing the move to lumber as "like you're trying to learn to walk again."
The success has not yet come for the Yankees' 11th round pick this year, as Isaiah Howes has batted just .203 with a home run and six RBIs, going along with 18 strikeouts and a .299 on-base percentage in 18 games, splitting time between outfield and designated hitting duties.
"In college I could take that outside pitch and just yank it off the end of the bat, pull it into left field for a single. But here you can't do that, or you'll end up with a broken bat, so I've had to become more of a complete hitter with a wooden bat," the 22-year-old Howes said.
"I don't get away with the things that I got away with in college, so I really have to concentrate on putting good, solid swings on the ball — because if you hit one off the end of the bat or get jammed, there goes your bat."
But Howes, who hits and throws from the right side, said he has been satisfied with the progress he has made thus far in pro ball.
"I don't think any good athlete is ever totally satisfied with his performance, but I think I'm doing okay," he said. "My batting average doesn't show it, but I'm hitting the ball well and I'm making solid contact."
"I've put a lot of work in the cage and really working on a couple of different things, so it's coming."
Howes feels he has tended to be a slow starter throughout his baseball playing career — in 2006, he hit .363 with five home runs in the second-half of the year with the Louisville Cardinals to finish off the season at .275 with six homers.
His final season with Louisville would not indicate as such, however, as he began the 2007 season by hitting safely in 13 of his first 14 games, with a scalding .449 average during that span. He ended the season hitting .391 with 18 long-balls and 69 runs driven in, leading the club in all three categories.
Through his first month in professional baseball, Howes said he has been working primarily on his timing at the plate with the help of hitting coordinator Gary Denbo and Staten Island hitting coach Ty Hawkins.
"I really haven't been doing many drills mechanically — my swing is pretty sound right now. But it's a lot of timing issues, so as long as I get my foot down on time and get ready to hit, then I'll be all right, but right now I'm struggling a bit with my timing issues," he said.
"The Yankees' hitting philosophy is think right-center and up the middle, and that's what we try to do," Howes said. "We look in a certain zone, and we look to go up the middle to the right-center field gap, and we adjust [according to the pitch]."
While the numbers through the first month of his pro-ball career leave room for improvement, Howes said he has enjoyed the challenge so far of higher level baseball and that he expects to make the necessary adjustments as the summer progresses.
"It's different, but it's not that different. The pitching is a little bit better and the wooden bat [is tougher], but it's still baseball...the game is just a little bit faster," he said.
Howes Changing His Approach
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