'Hounds' Choice finds his power stroke

A's prospect homers, drives in three for second straight game

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | July 14, 2012 10:16 PM ET

Michael Choice is a power hitter. He drives in runs.

Those facts have been increasingly evident since the Texas League All-Star break.

The A's top prospect went 3-for-4, homered and drove in three runs for the second straight game Saturday, powering Double-A Midland to a 16-4 rout of San Antonio.

Choice has driven in at least one run in five straight and seven on his last nine games. And in 11 games since the Texas League All-Star Game, he's hitting .429 with a .681 slugging percentage.

"I definitely want to be viewed as a power hitter, that's my biggest strength," Choice said. "It just depends on where you play. You can't really look too far into everything. You play in places where the wind blows in, where the wind blows out and eventually you get things more stable and more consistent."

The 10th overall pick in the 2010 Draft said he did make one small adjustment that's helped him find some more comfort at the plate and produce a hotter bat. Where he once wiggled his bat a bit before a pitch, he now remains completely motionless and is, accordingly, more calm.

"I just keep my hands still, no movement," said the University of Texas-Arlington product. "I want to keep as still as possible, eliminate the bounce. I had that bounce off my shoulder and now I'm just keeping still, making more consistent contact, better contact.

"I finally feel comfortable at the plate. I found something that I feel is starting to come together."

Choice's power was undeniable after a breakout season in 2011. With Class A Advanced Stockton, he batted .285 and slugged .542, hitting 30 homers and driving in 80 runs. That, of course, was in the hitter-friendly California League.

It's been a little bit more difficult to solve the Texas League this year. Factoring in that post-All-Star surge and MLB.com's No. 48 overall prospect is hitting .280 with nine homers, 55 RBIs and a .761 OPS in 84 games.

The league and the venue in which he plays, though, is something Choice said doesn't really affect his approach.

"It's not so much the level or the park, it is what it is," he said. "Nature is nature. Some places are hot and sunny and the wind is blowing out and other places are cold and rainy and the wind is blowing in. You don't look too much into that, just go out there and play."

Choice also had the chance to play in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Kansas City, where he went 0-for-2 with a walk while starting in left field for Team USA.

"That was great, the best baseball experience I've ever had," said the 22-year-old, "just going to that park, playing in front of that many fans and playing with some of the other top prospects there. Going in, you know a pretty good amount of the guys and we got the chance to finally play on the same team and not against each other."

Choice wasn't the only RockHound with a big game Saturday. Anthony Aliotti went 2-for-4 with his seventh homer, six RBIs and four runs scored. On the year, he's hitting .305 with a .418 OBP.

"Anthony's been doing a great job at the plate, he hasn't slowed down one bit all year," Choice said. "He's been the most reliable guy in the lineup. He takes good swings, zones pitchers up very well and doesn't go out of that zone very often. That's his main key and leads to his success."

Jonathan Raymond 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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