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NYPL notes: Altherr finding his groove
Outfielder cruising with 'Cutters after some early struggles
07/08/2011 10:00 AM ET
Outfielder Aaron Altherr leads his team in homers and total bases.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr leads his team in homers and total bases. (Williamsport Crosscutters)
For Williamsport's Aaron Altherr, it's all about confidence.

The 20-year-old outfielder, ranked No. 7 among Phillies prospects by MLB.com, began this season with Class A Lakewood. In his first five games, he was 2-for-20 with seven strikeouts. At the end of April, he was hitting .192; at the end of May, .189. He needed a change. The Phillies decided to send him back to Williamsport, where he hit .287 in 28 games in 2010.

"[I found out] about a week before the Williamsport season started," said Altherr. "They told me, then I sat out for a few games in Lakewood before I came to Williamsport.

"At first I was a little disappointed, but I realize what they were trying to do. It's all for the best, it really is."

Since joining the Crosscutters, Altherr has found his groove at the plate, ranking among the team leaders in batting average (.301), home runs (2), RBIs (11), hits (22), total bases (33) and steals (4) over 19 games.

"Basically, I went right back to what I was doing in Spring Training," he said. "In Spring Training I was hitting the cover off the ball, hitting the ball really good, and I kind of got away from it during the season in Lakewood. I just had to get right back to where I was in Spring Training, and I feel like I've done that."

Because Altherr got off to such a strong start in Williamsport -- he was hitting .381 after five games and batted safely in 11 of his first 12 games -- Crosscutters manager Mickey Morandini hasn't seen the struggles that troubled the first two months of Altherr's season, but he understands the problem that a crisis of confidence can pose for any player.

"I think that's typical of a young player," said the former Major Leaguer. "You want to get off to a good start, and when you don't you start to press a little bit. Obviously when you're pressing, you're not going to do the things you're capable of doing. But he came in here, he got off to a pretty good start right away and I think that relaxed him a little bit, and he's carried that on through the first 18 games."

Having regained his confidence with the Crosscutters, Altherr has shown everyone exactly what he can do on the diamond.

"He's been one of our most consistent hitters," said Morandini. "He's hitting over .300. He's played an outstanding left field. He's made several running and diving catches in left-center field for us. The guy can do it all. He can lay down a bunt, he's got some speed, he's stolen some bases, he's got a couple home runs. I expect that as he gets a little more mature and a little stronger, he's going to be hitting more home runs than he is now. He's done a great job for us."

Altherr's route through the Minor Leagues presents a different sight in a sport where prospects often progress through the lower levels in a more linear fashion. But the 20-year-old is undeterred by what he clearly considers to be momentary setbacks.

"Everybody's got a different path," he said.

In brief

Making history: The Vermont Lake Monsters announced via Twitter on Saturday that the team's 7-4 win over Tri-City was the 600th since the franchise moved from Jamestown before the 1994 season.

A save is a save: When Hudson Valley's Brooks Belter came on to pitch the seventh inning against Aberdeen on Sunday, he inherited a 5-1 lead. The Renegades scored 10 runs between the seventh and eighth for a comfortable 15-1 win. Belter, Tampa Bay's 25th-round pick last month, pitched the final three innings and was credited with his first professional save.

Doubledays duo: Auburn's Hendry Jimenez extended his season-high hit streak to 17 games Wednesday with a third-inning single off Jamestown's Matthew Neil but went 0-for-5 on Thursday. The 21-year-old second baseman leads the league with a .403 batting average. Teammate Matt Skole went 0-for-5 on Wednesday to end a 16-game hitting streak.

Brian Moynahan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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