PULASKI, Virginia - Not many batters can claim the ability to hit a home run from both sides of the plate, but Isiah Gilliam is one of the few who can. The Pulaski Yankees outfielder is a natural right-hander who became a switch-hitter around the age of six.
"My dad just [threw] some pitches to me on the left side. It was kind of fun and games at first but then I kind of picked onto it quickly," Gilliam said about his batting style.
Gilliam says hitting from both sides of the plate gives him an advantage due to his ability to recognize pitches better and he can put himself into a better situation offensively.
After graduating high school, Gilliam opted to attend Chipola College, a junior college in Florida.
"Chipola is a really good program and I think it's one of the best junior college programs in the country.
Gilliam was no stranger to Chipola before deciding to play there. His agent's brother-in-law is the head coach of the baseball team and had a good relationship with Isiah before he began playing for him.
After completing one year at Chipola, Isiah was drafted by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 2015 draft. He spent the entire 2015 season in the Gulf Coast League before being promoted to Pulaski for 2016.
"Last year was more of a learning experience," Gilliam said about his first season of professional baseball.
Gilliam said the biggest change he went through last season was playing every day, which he was not used to coming out of college.
Over the off-season, Gilliam not only worked out and improved his overall physical condition, he focused on hitting-related aspects of his game as well. In addition to lifting four to five times a week, Gilliam worked more on hitting to the opposite field and recognizing pitches, which has certainly paid off this season.
Through 35 games this season, Isiah is batting .280 with four home runs and 20 RBIs. From July 19 to July 26, Gilliam had three four-hit games, including one game in which he was just a triple short of hitting for the cycle.
The season is just past the halfway point, and Gilliam is loving every bit of it.
"I love it. Every night's exciting."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.