Last fall, Buffalo hitting coach Corey Hart had some "homework" for Danny Jansen.
"I gave him something to work on over the offseason," Hart said. "When he came back, it was amazing -- he had worked on it and perfected it. We wanted him to 'load' into his backside instead of striding into his backside. Now he's in a better position to hit and has made himself more consistent."
And Jansen, the Blue Jays' sixth-ranked prospect, has used those adjustments to become one of the best hitters in the International League. The 23-year-old catcher ranks second in the circuit with a .320 batting average and has three homers and 31 RBIs in 44 games.
It's a continuation of a fine 2017 season for the Wisconsin native, who hit .323 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 104 games across three levels.
"Before, I had spent a lot of time changing my swing," Jansen said. "Last year, in Spring Training, right off the get-go I decided to stop changing things. … Coming up, if I didn't see success right away, I would change things. It was tough; when you don't see success right away, you can spin into a dark hole.
Video: Buffalo's Jansen helps break open the game
"I went back to being myself. There's no better feeling that just being yourself and being comfortable at the plate. If you're at the plate thinking about your swing, you've already lost."
Last year, it also helped that, for the first time, Jansen was injury-free. A broken left hand forced him to miss three months in 2015 and a broken hamate bone in his left hand cost him two months during the 2016 season.
"Last season was the first season where I played more than 60 games," Jansen said. "It's a beautiful thing to be able to play a whole season. Right now, my goal is to just stay healthy and keep preparing myself, both at the plate and behind the plate."
Jansen has drawn 23 walks and been hit by a pitch five times to give him a .421 on-base percentage, the second-best mark in the IL. He entered play Sunday with a 20-game on-base streak, the third-longest in the league this season.
"He's seeing the ball really well," Hart said. "He goes to the plate with a plan and he really sticks with it. And he's got an incredible ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball."
Jansen said he continues to work on his all-around game, including pitch-calling, blocking pitches and other details behind the plate. But Hart said he's seen improvement in those areas while Jansen continues to excel at the plate.
"The biggest thing for him is to not 'think' mechanics," the manager said. "He just wants to get into a good rhythm and whip the bat. And so far, he's been great."
Nothing but zeros: Indianapolis RHP Johnny Hellweg has been nearly unhittable this season, allowing 13 hits and eight walks over 22 2/3 innings. Hellweg, who's 1-0 with nine saves, has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances and has not surrendered a hit in his last 5 2/3 innings.
Tough out: Syracuse 2B Irving Falu has been one of the best hitters in the Chiefs lineup this season. He's batting .284 and leads the team in runs scored (27) and RBIs (28). The 35-year-old also has drawn 22 walks for a .358 on-base percentage and has struck out 11 times in 183 at-bats. Falu's average of one strikeout every 14.64 at-bats is the best mark in the IL.Late-inning lockdown: Durham's bullpen has been one of the keys behind the team's 35-25 start and 3.39 ERA that ranks second in the IL. Among the impressive numbers in the 'pen are RHP Mike Franco, 1.93 ERA; RHP Ian Gibaut, 1.33 ERA, five saves; RHP Andrew Kittredge, 1.80 ERA; LHP Adam Kolarek, 1.42 ERA; LHP Colin Poche, 1.17 ERA; and RHP Hunter Wood, 2.81 ERA. Gibaut also leads IL relievers with a .154 opponents' batting average.
He said it: "My whole life has changed. I know [my daughter] is not born yet, but I've kind of taken on a role model role. Be a little more mature and kind of grow up a little bit but still have fun at the same time. I'm super-excited. I don't even know what to expect because I'm new at it. Thinking I'm a father, it's kind of an accomplishment. I know it's weird, but I have to take pride in it. I'm really excited for the day. I'm really excited to meet her. I have to fill some big shoes. My dad was such an amazing father to me and still is, and I hope that I can be half of what he is." --Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RHP Brady Lail to The (Scranton) Times Leader. Lail, whose girlfriend will give birth to the couple's first child in October, is 4-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
John Wagner is a contributor to MiLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.