During his brief time in the Minors, Austin Hays has been in the zone when he steps into the batter's box.
For the Orioles' No. 2 prospect, being in the zone means capitalizing on an aggressive approach that's led to some massive numbers: a .333 average, 30 homers and 94 RBIs in fewer than 140 games.
It's also led to a quick ascent through the Baltimore system.
"I just have a zone that I'm looking for, and I'm trying to get a pitch that the pitcher throws into that zone," the 2016 third-rounder said. "Whether it's an offspeed pitch that starts in a certain spot and ends in that zone or a fastball that starts and ends in that zone, it's kind of a mental image I have of where I picture the ball going, and trying to hit it when it's there."
His approach has held up at each of the three levels he's been at thus far, starting with a .336 effort at Class A Short Season Aberdeen last year. Hays opened 2017 at Class A Advanced Frederick, and it was much of the same as he hit .328 with 16 homers, 41 RBIs and 42 runs scored in 64 games, earning him a promotion to Double-A Bowie in late June.
Video: Bowie's Hays launches three-run homer
Upon arriving in Bowie, he continued his success at the plate, hitting safely in his first nine games -- and he hasn't let up since.
"I'm just an aggressive hitter, and I have a lot of confidence in myself," Hays said. "I don't really change too much mentally when the pitcher is on the mound. It's just me competing with him, and we're going to see who's better. He's got a ball and I've got a bat."
Hays has hit safely in 33 of 37 games with Bowie, including 15 multi-hit efforts, while 24 of his 52 hits have gone for extra bases.
He credits his daily preparation, which starts every day in the batting cage. His routine hasn't wavered much since his days at Jacksonville University.
"I had a pretty good foundation coming in and just my tee-set that I do every day," he said, "Then it goes into either front flips that day, or overhand, or whatever we're able to do in opposing teams' cages. Then just taking my BP on the field, trying to do the same thing, the same set."
Video: Bowie's Hays homers to left-center
Hays is also implementing the proper mental tactics into his routine, knowing that things can change drastically from one day to the next.
"I would say not letting the day before affect you whatsoever," the Florida native said. "Whether you went 4-for-4 and you're riding your high, you're not getting overly confident. If you go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, not getting down in the slums, just knowing it was one day."
Between two levels this season he has 26 home runs, 73 RBIs and a .333/.368/.607 slash line. Through 139 Minor League games over a season and half, Hays already has 185 hits under his belt.
And with his first full season nearing completion, Hays says he's holding up just fine.
"I actually don't feel too bad," said Hays. "My legs are holding up. My body is holding up fine. Our training staff and everybody have done a really good job teaching me how to take care of my body my first full season. I'm just trying to keep it all together right now. But we're in a playoff race, so it's a lot of fun coming out here every day. We're playing hard."
SHOwing his worth: Binghamton left-hander P.J. Conlon is the lone Eastern League hurler with multiple shutouts -- he has three on the year. The Rumble Ponies have 16 as a team, tying them with Trenton for most in the circuit. The Mets' No. 24 prospect is also tied with Indians No. 17 prospect Shawn Morimando for most shutouts in the Minors this season. Conlon is the first Eastern League pitcher to log at least three shutouts in a season since 2004 when Norwich Navigators' southpaw Pat Misch equaled the mark.
Adjustment bureau: Nationals' top prospect Victor Robles took a little time to get going after a callup to Harrisburg in late July, but he has since steadied himself at the plate. MLB.com's No. 5 overall prospect hit just .182 in his first six games at Double-A, managing just four hits. In seven games since, he has collected 10 hits for a .386 average, including his first two homers at the level to go along with eight runs scored. The 20-year-old outfielder has also continued his penchant for being hit by pitches, getting plunked three times since joining the Senators, giving him 20 on the season.
Rock steady: Though he hit just .266 in July, his lowest monthly mark this season, Rockies No. 1 prospect Brendan Rodgers finished strong and has carried things over into August. The third-ranked shortstop prospect has hit safely in all five games he's played this month, extending his hitting streak to eight games. During the streak, MLB.com's No. 9 prospect is hitting .344 with three extra-base hits. Extending back 13 games, Rodgers has six multi-hit games and a .365 average with nine RBIs, eight runs scored and six extra-base hits.