Higashioka Could Be More Aggressive

Higgy had a walk-off single on Saturday

CHARLESTON, SC - Despite being a steady and consistent presence behind the plate, Kyle Higashioka has been struggling lately at the plate. Currently batting, .200, the 20 year old has had only seven hits in his last 36 at-bats. His coach, however, is confident that this is merely a minor bump in the road and is expecting good things from the young catcher.

Hitting coach Justin Turner does not believe that Higashioka's low batting average is due to mechanical problems or swinging at bad pitches. In fact, he believes that the right-hander does not swing at enough pitches.

"I think he is putting himself in a hole by taking pitches," Turner said. "He is still working hard and doing some right things in the cage. It's just a matter of transferring what he is doing in the cage into the game."

The California native is obviously disappointed in his current hitting situation. In 170 at-bats, he has had 34 hits, 10 doubles, and three homebruns, while only striking out 27 times and drawing 17 walks.

In the beginning of the season Higashioka attributed his hitting problems to mechanics. But now he feels that he has had good at-bats in the past few weeks and has just been unlucky. As proof of that, he had two solid at-bats in Wednesday night's game, flying out to deep centerfield and lining out to the third baseman.

"I've been having very good at-bats, hitting the ball hard but stuff hasn't been falling lately. I hope I keep hitting the ball hard and eventually it will find a hole," he explained.

In order to improve his average, Higashioka believes that he needs to focus on consistency at the plate.

Turner believes that the young player will be able to get out of this funk. By focusing on the quality of his at-bats and attacking the good pitches, his luck will turn around.

"He's just working on putting quality at-bats together," Turner continued. "We're not necessarily focusing on results as much as seeing pitches and making sure we get a good pitch to hit and just executing a swing from there."

Even though Higashioka's offensive game hasn't quite gelled yet, defensively he is very solid. The coaches are pleased with what they have seen from Higashioka thus far.

"It's a tough position to play [catcher] and demands a lot physically," Turner emphasized. "He does a good job. He blocks the ball as good as anyone we have and throws the ball pretty good to second base. He is doing a lot of good things behind the plate."

Higashioka has worked on developing good relationships with the pitching staff. While the coaches would like to see him be a bit more vocal, Turner says that he is not afraid to call the pitch and keep putting down the sign to have the pitcher throw it.

With continued hard work and a little bit of luck, Higashioka will certainly begin to see the results he and his coaches have been hoping for.

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