The results have been great for Keon Broxton over the past month in Indianapolis.
On Wednesday night, Broxton extended his International League high on base streak to 29 games. The last time that Broxton failed to get on base was July 1st in an 0-for-3 effort. During the streak, Broxton has hit for a .311/.403/.538 line in 124 plate appearances. Broxton credits the success to making adjustments to a new level and hard work.
“I am just sticking to a plan at the plate and looking for something, squaring it up and not chasing pitches I am not looking for,” Broxton said. “I have cut my swing down a lot and have been working in the cage. I am just trying to shorten my swing and get everything connected, working together. That has been working for me.”
In those 29 games, Broxton has struck out 31 times. That 25% strikeout rate is where he was sitting in Double-A the last two years with the Pirates. It’s not a horrible ratio, but could afford to come down a bit. While cutting down his swing should aid that some, it will not be a fix all in the category. Along with cutting the swing down, Broxton also admitted that he was forced to make some adjustments to the way he was pitched.
“It was definitely different,” Broxton said. “I was not seeing change ups in a 3-1 count [in Double-A]. That was unheard of. I was seeing a lot of off speed in hitters’ counts. Getting adjusted to that was pretty tough, but now, I am just hitting anything in the zone. If it is there, I am going to let it rip.”
With the adjustments that he has made, Indianapolis hitting coach Butch Wynegar said that he is now seeing a completely different hitter in Broxton than he saw when he was first called up two months ago.
“I just told [Broxton] at the cage that he is becoming a Major League hitter right before my eyes,” Wynegar said. “He has been really good. Not just because of the results that he is getting, but the at bats, the adjustments, using the whole field, and two-strike approach. Everything just seems to be coming together for him.”
Along with the alterations that he has made, Broxton is also seeing some of the power return that he is used to. Since the beginning of July, Broxton has eight doubles, four triples, and a pair of home runs.
After seeing an OPS of .551 in June, Broxton saw a spike to .899 in July and .917 thus far in August.
“It feels amazing to just be able to do what I am used to doing [with the power],” Broxton said. “I am just getting to my natural ability. I am not trying to hit the ball hard, but just square it up and whatever happens after that happens. Luckily, it has been coming together for me.”
Completing all of the offensive tools for Broxton is the speed aspect that he brings to the table. For only the third time in 25 attempts with Indianapolis, Broxton was caught stealing on Tuesday night. In just 58 games at the level, Broxton has swiped 22 bases.
The speed is an aspect that Broxton thinks could be the most important thing that he brings to the table.
“It is definitely very important to me,” Broxton said. “I take base stealing very serious. I think that it is one of the biggest parts of my game. Just to be able to make the at bat easier for my teammate when he is up there, it makes me feel good.”
With the athleticism that Broxton brings to the organization, the fact that he finally has his swing down and is tearing up Triple-A is a great sign for the Pirates brass. Broxton joined the organization after being acquired from the Diamondbacks last year for cash. Since then, the former third round pick has hit .275 with an .853 OPS in Altoona last season and .271 with a .789 OPS between the two levels this season.
If this play is consistent, Broxton has the look of a big league outfielder with what he has to offer. When his game is on, he can hit for average, get on base, provide speed and defense, and hit for some power. The issue for him in the Pirates’ system is trying to crack the deepest position at the next level. He won’t have a chance to be a starter, but could get a shot at a future bench role. Time will tell whether his play is consistent enough to do so.