PIO notes: Giacalone in attack mode

First baseman returns to Helena in search of power stroke

Adam Giacalone is hitting .374 with three homers in 24 games. (Sleeping Giant Photography)

By Greg Rachac / Special to MiLB.com | August 15, 2013 6:06 AM ET

Nobody wants to go backward. In Minor League Baseball, it's move up or bust.

Yet many times there's a method to the madness. For Adam Giacalone, a return to Helena has meant a chance to make specific refinements to his swing and become the power hitter the Milwaukee Brewers envision.

"I took it as a way to get better," said Giacalone, a first baseman who was reassigned to the Pioneer League from Class A Wisconsin of the Midwest League on July 13. "To come back and have the opportunity to play every day and work and get my way back up, that's what I'm going to do. One of the biggest things you can do in baseball is learn from your struggles."

The left-handed-hitting Giacalone was picked by Milwaukee in the 16th round of the 2012 Draft out of Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan. He played his first professional season in Helena last year, where he hit .317 with three home runs and 32 RBIs in 69 games.

He began this season in Wisconsin, batting .249 in 64 games. But one thing stood out: Giacalone's power was nonexistent. In the Midwest League, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder went homerless, which prompted Brewers brass to make a calculated decision.

"He's a contact guy," said Helena manager Tony Diggs. "He drives the ball up the middle a lot, and that's very good for a lefty to be able to stay on the ball like that. It's just a matter of him getting into position to hit with more authority. We're looking for a little more power coming from a first baseman.

"His first day back, we sat down and had a little bit of a conversation just to go over the expectations and maybe even the disappointment he had being back here. But he was fine with everything. He knows he's here to work hard and get things back on track, and hopefully give him a chance to get out of here as soon as possible."

Both Diggs and Giacalone say the first baseman's restructured workload in Helena consists of being more aggressive at the plate. Giacalone constantly squares up pitches, but now it's a matter of attacking the strike zone more in an effort to increase his home run numbers.

Through 23 games in Helena this season, Giacalone was hitting .386 with three homers and 23 RBIs. His slugging percentage was .511, more than 200 points higher than it was at Wisconsin. It's all part of the role Giacalone knows he must fill.

"I've shown I can hit for a decent average, but that might not be what a first baseman is supposed to do," Giacalone said. "What I've been trying to work on is staying on my legs, staying on my lower-half a lot more and staying back on the ball.

"It's been nice to see some results. But you can never be satisfied. There's things I'm still trying to work on and trying to get comfortable with."

In brief

On fire: Great Falls missed out on the first-half championship in the North Division but is making a strong run toward its seventh straight playoff appearance. The Voyagers have won 11 of their first 13 games of the second half, including a season-best nine in a row from Aug. 4-12.

Big game hunter: It was only a matter of time, but Idaho Falls infielder Hunter Dozier was promoted to Class A Lexington of the South Atlantic League on Aug. 12. The first-round pick in 2013 left the Chukars hitting .293 with six homers, 35 RBIs, 35 runs scored and 22 extra-base hits. Dozier also had a .916 fielding percentage, splitting time between shortstop and third base.

Defensive doldrums: Grand Junction made a whopping eight fielding errors in an 11-10 loss to Orem on Aug. 7. The defensive lapses contributed to five unearned runs scored for the Owlz, who had just four RBIs in the 10-inning game. Grand Junction's 101 errors and .946 fielding percentage rank last in the eight-team Pioneer League.

Greg Rachac 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.

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