After a May 29th promotion to Indianapolis, Keon Broxton made his name known quickly, as he struck the third pitch he saw for a home run to straightaway centerfield. However, since having a pair of hits in the successful debut, Broxton had only three hits in his next nine games combined.
This was all leading up to a four-hit bounce back effort on June 8th. Broxton said that his method for success at the plate is all about getting to a good hitting position.
“I think that [the success] is a combination of a lot of things,” Broxton said. “It is getting comfortable with my hitting position and getting comfortable with my swing and being confident that I can hit any pitch that is thrown.”
While he said that he has been seeing the ball really well lately, Broxton admitted that Thursday night was an exception to that. He said that he got ahead of himself in the contest where he struck out three times. Additionally, Broxton said that the biggest key to his success is vision and just reacting.
“[Taking the time to see the ball] is key in this game,” Broxton said. “You can’t hit it before you see it. I think that I have been pressed because I haven’t been getting my hits and having bad at bats. When I am in the lineup, I am going to get back to just seeing the ball and reacting.”
Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar agreed with Broxton’s take and said that he has “been up there looking to be too perfect during his pitch selection” during the slide.
Broxton was a former third round pick of the Diamondbacks and was traded to the Pirates on March 27, 2014 for cash considerations. Prior to the trade, he hit .231 with Double-A Mobile, while striking out 116 times in 334 at bats.
Since joining the Pirates organization, Broxton has posted an .853 OPS with Altoona last year and a .792 OPS with both levels in 2015. Broxton attributes the success to a change in culture between the two organizations.
“Here, they have a lot of structure,” Broxton said. “They care more about you as a man than anything and I think that is good in the organization and that every organization needs something like that, in building the person as a human being and not just a baseball player. They have helped me a lot with my talent, abilities and game, and they have contributed a lot to my success.”
Broxton said that one of the biggest changes from Double-A to Triple-A is the preparation off the field. He said that the Pirates allow you to prepare more on you own with the guidance of the coaches to develop as a player.
However, he also said that the adjustment on the field is huge as well.
“The biggest difference is that guys know how to play,” Broxton said. “Guys know exactly what to do, especially pitchers. They know what pitch is going to get you out and how to put it there on a consistent basis.”
In addition, Broxton said that hitting a home run in his first Triple-A at bat cured some of the early jitters, and reminded him that “it is still just baseball.”
Wynegar echoed Broxton’s impressions about the transition.
“With a guy like Keon, coming from Double-A, I still think there is a big jump from Double-A to Triple-A,” Wynegar said. “I have seen it in my time that I have been in Triple-A. Sometimes, they get away with things in Double-A and they come to Triple-A and think that they have to change things and do something different. You don’t because it is the same game.”
Wynegar said that another adjustment is that pitchers have the ability to pitch better in Triple-A, rather than just throw hard in Double-A.
“He will see that 2-1 slider now, rather than the 2-1 fastball,” Wynegar said. “Sometimes, it becomes a mental game with them. I pulled [Broxton] off to the side yesterday after his first two at bats and asked him if he knew what the word ‘hitterish’ means. That is a good thing and it means that you are ready to hit every pitch from the first pitch on. That is how I want these guys because that first pitch might be the best that they see.”
At only 25 Broxton still has plenty of time to develop into a big leaguer, after a slow start to his career. While his 26 percent strikeout rate is too high for the Triple-A level in his first 50 at bats, he is still adjusting to the level. However, the concern is that rate is consistent in his time with the Pirates organization so far.
Broxton is still more than a year away, but based on his athleticism and skill set, it is not a stretch to see him develop into a big league player eventually.