If Josh Breaux has learned anything over the past few years, it's patience. Whether it was the path he had to take to receive a chance to play professional baseball or the way things have unfolded over the last two seasons, the Class A Charleston catcher has hurdled the road
If Josh Breaux has learned anything over the past few years, it's patience. Whether it was the path he had to take to receive a chance to play professional baseball or the way things have unfolded over the last two seasons, the Class A Charleston catcher has hurdled the road blocks and emerged a better player.
The 2019 campaign has served as a perfect example of Breaux's patience and perseverance. He jumped out to a solid start, driving in 30 runs in his first 30 games while hitting seven homers and posting a slash line of .295/.323/.500. The right-handed slugger went on a torrid stretch from April 23-May 17, collecting 22 RBIs with five homers in 11 games.
His momentum came to a halt, however, when he suffered an elbow injury on May 21. Not only was he sidelined until early August, Breaux also missed playing in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
"It was frustrating, but I was around a good group of guys and a great coaching staff in Charleston, which made it a lot easier," Breaux said. "Things are going well now. I'm just happy to be back on the field and helping the team again."
Breaux provided assistance to the Charleston cause by going 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and three RBIs in his return at Hickory on Aug. 10. He went deep for the 10th time on Aug. 22, becoming the third fastest (41 games) RiverDogs player since 2005 to reach double digits in roundtrippers. In his first 17 games since coming back from the injury, Breaux had four home runs and 15 RBIs and owned an overall slash line of .276/.315/.508.
Ranked the Yankees' No. 22 prospect, Breaux has shown an ability to impact the baseball and ever-improving skills behind the plate. But those tools didn't impress scouts when he graduated from Tomball High School in Texas in 2016. With limited options, Breaux made the most of his opportunities upon attending McLennan Community College in Waco -- he was drafted by the Astros in the 36th round following his freshman year in 2017. He decided to return to school and proceeded to take his game to an even higher level.
"Out of high school, I didn't even have any Division I offers," Breaux said. "My goal was always to get drafted, but it just didn't work out that way. I played with a chip on my shoulder all the way through junior college. I'm kind of happy it happened that way. The coaching staff at McLennan was great; they really helped me with my approach at the plate as well as with my defense."
Playing alongside his brother, Joe, Breaux emerged as the top JUCO prospect in the country heading into the 2018 Draft. As a sophomore in 2018, he helped guide McLennan to the JUCO World Series and batted .404/.532/.831 with 18 home runs and 69 RBIs while finishing in the top 20 in the JUCO ranks in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and homers. He also pitched 17 innings as a reliever, his fastball flirting with triple digits.
"That's all the pitching I wanted to do," Breaux said with a smile. "I really didn't like pitching; I just did it to help out when needed. I've always loved hitting and catching."
Selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2018 Draft, Breaux batted .280/.295/.370 with 13 RBIs in 27 games last season -- 24 of those outings coming at Staten Island in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League. He admits he was more comfortable coming into Spring Training and is confident his development is headed in the right direction.
"Every single day I'm trying to work on new stuff," Breaux said. "I've got a great coaching staff here that's been helping me a lot. I'm an aggressive hitter, usually batting third, fourth or fifth, and I'm working on every aspect of catching and working with the pitching staff. It's the opportunity I always wanted, and I want to make the most of it."
In briefGrasshopper leaps the field:
A hot August that includes a pair of nine-game hitting streaks has enabled Greensboro's Ji-Hwan Bae
to move into first in the SAL batting race. The left-handed hitter from Daegu, South Korea, batted at a .372/.459/.489 clip through his first 26 outings during the month, raising his average from .304 on July 31 to .324 through Aug. 28.Big flies for Asheville: Kyle Datres
' grand slam in the second inning against Charleston on Aug. 16 gave Asheville its eighth home run with the bases filled this season, tying the mark established in 1969 by the Greenwood Braves (in 124 games) and equaled by the Macon Braves (in 140 games in 1997). Datres' blast came in the Tourists' 124th contest of the campaign. Asheville hit two grand slams on both April 9 and May 31, with Terrin Vavra
-- the third Tourists player in the last four years to be named SAL MVP -- hitting the second one on April 9.Ringing them up:
Augusta left-hander Seth Corry
, the SAL's Most Outstanding Pitcher, leads the loop with 168 strikeouts. Corry has five or more whiffs in each of his 13 second-half starts and has fanned at least seven batters in nine of those outings.
Bill Ballew is a contributor to MiLB.com.