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Carolina notes: Schlehuber slows down
Lynchburg catcher improves his offense, ignores his stats
06/27/2012 10:31 AM ET
Braeden Schlehuber is batting .303 with eight homers and 27 RBIs.
Braeden Schlehuber is batting .303 with eight homers and 27 RBIs. (Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)
Braeden Schlehuber suffered through some growing pains in his first few years of Minor League Baseball.

He struggled at the plate, hitting under .200 in two of his first three seasons in the Minors. But the Lynchburg catcher slowly began to turn things around in 2011 and took off this season, growing into one of the Carolina League's better hitters and earning a spot in last week's All-Star Game.

Schlehuber, a fourth-round pick of the Braves in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, said his biggest problem involved simply trying too hard. He often pressed at the plate, a big reason for averages of just .199 and .183 in 2009 and 2010. But Schlehuber posted a .242 average last year and improved to .303 through Monday's games this season.

"I was trying to hit a grand slam with nobody on base, so to speak," Schlehuber said. "At some point, you've got to put the numbers up, and the numbers weren't coming the way I'd like them to."

Schlehuber realized during 2011 that something needed to change, so he started adjusting his swing, doing things like cutting down the swing and focusing hard on just making contact.

He noticed that approach was really starting to pay off this year in Spring Training. Schlehuber worked on getting the bat out over the plate and just connecting with the ball and not trying to blast long home runs every time.

"With baseball, it's a game of changes all the time," he said. "You've got to make changes every year or you're not going to make it."

Lynchburg hitting coach Bobby Moore has worked with Schlehuber in a couple of different levels and agreed that the catcher was too jumpy at the plate earlier in his career. Moore pushed him to slow down, take more time to recognize pitches and react.

"It's a process," Moore said. "Some guys get it quick, and some guys take a little longer. From his hard work and his experience, it's clicked for him. Now the key for us is to keep it going and have him keep doing what he's doing."

In addition, both Moore and Schlehuber also agreed that a certain type of maturation process also took place. Schlehuber is 24 now and understands baseball life a little better. That could be why he's already hit a career high of eight homers in 49 games.

But the catcher doesn't even watch the stats to ensure keeping an even keel. In fact, during a recent interview, Schlehuber didn't even know his own batting average.

"I try not to look at my numbers," he said. "I don't want to get too high, and I don't want to get too low. You just try to stay hot."

That good first half is why he made the California/Carolina League All-Star Game. Schlehuber went 0-for-2 in the Carolina League's victory last week, and Moore is very happy his pupil appears to be working through those growing pains.

"He wants to be the best," Moore said. "He's a joy to work with. He works his tail off every day, and he wants to get better -- and he is getting better."

In brief

Oh, no: Aaron Northcraft threw a seven-inning no-hitter last Friday for Lynchburg in a 3-0 victory over Salem. He struck out 10 in the team's first-ever complete-game no-hitter and the first since two pitchers combined on a nine-inning no-no 17 years ago.

Headed West: The 2013 California/Carolina League All-Star Game heads to California next year, with the San Jose Giants serving as hosts. The game is scheduled for June 18, 2013 at San Jose's Municipal Stadium.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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