Mudcats manager Edwin Rodriguez and hitting coach Scooter Tucker helped the shortstop re-position his hands and work on being more patient. Those two simple adjustments changed things for the shortstop, and he's raised his average nearly 90 points to .276 through Monday's game.
Rodriguez struggled in the first month. His hands were all over the place before swinging, something he did too often early in the count, and his average dropped to just .188 in early May.
Tucker and the skipper then talked with the shortstop about making some changes.
"We [started] trying to get him to start in a spot and then move his hands back to a launch position," Tucker said. "Early on, there was a lot of movement [with his hands]. When his front foot hit the ground, his hands were in all different spots. We've tried to eliminate that."
They also emphasized the importance of patience at the plate. Rodriguez said he often swung too early in the count. The skipper and Tucker wanted him to be more selective and work the count.
The changes appeared to work quickly as Rodriguez went 4-for-4 in his first game after discussing them. He also had two doubles, two RBIs and scored two runs against Frederick.
Rodriguez said he noticed a difference right away.
"It made me feel good," Rodriguez said. "I try to do adjustments wherever I play. But I felt much better."
The changes certainly paid off. Rodriguez hit .278 in May and improved to .340 in June. Last year, he hit .246 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs playing 98 games with Lake County in the Midwest League.
But this year, Rodriguez has the .276 average plus nine homers and 40 RBIs in 84 games through Monday's action.
That left Rodriguez third on the team in RBIs and fourth in homers. Rodriguez said he's really working hard at being more patient and not always trying to jump on the first or second pitch of an at-bat.
"I want the pitcher to throw [more]," he said. "I want to hit my pitch, not his pitch."
Tucker also said that he's very impressed with how hard Rodriguez has tried to improve. He liked the way the 6-foot, 170-pound Rodriguez battled through the tough times earlier this season.
"We've always known that he's had a lot of sock in his bat for a little guy," Tucker said. "He's got an exciting bat. He's worked very hard, really starting himself [on] a routine, getting a little more focused and a little more plate discipline."
Four! Brandon Workman of Salem won his fourth straight game Monday, throwing six shutout innings in a 7-0 win over Frederick. He gave up just one hit, struck out nine and walked only two.
Good pitching: Myrtle Beach's pitchers continue to shut down the Carolina League hitters. They've got a 3.04 ERA through Monday, far ahead of Lynchburg (3.57), who sits in second place.
Baker's oven: Aaron Baker drove in 17 runs in his last 10 games and tied Salem's Travis Shaw for the league lead with 66 RBIs. The Frederick first baseman also has five homers during his recent hot streak.