"Me and [hitting coach Ralph Dickenson] have done a lot of stuff," Ahrens said. "I mean throughout the whole year, have tried a bunch of stuff like the leg kick, smaller stance, wider stance and right now we're in the development of getting a wider base, wider stance to the plate so it makes it easier for me to attack the baseball. When you attack the baseball, that means more doubles."
Dickenson explained that although the leg lift and kick that Ahrens worked on early in the season added some pop in his swing, the right-hander didn't feel comfortable with it due to timing issues. He described in detail the new approach they've been working on and the benefits it should bring Ahrens at the plate.
"We've gone to a wider base, standing wider, having some pre-set angles with his shoulders and trying to stride out and have those angles where the front shoulder is lower than the back shoulder because the pitchers are trying to pitch low," Dickenson explained.
"He's trying to have the end of the bat over the top of his head and go right straight to the ball. He lacks flexibility in the core, so his lower half, his hips, don't work as they oughta work so part of what he has to do is work towards getting better hip rotation."
In 111 games, Ahrens is batting .238 accompanied by 13 home runs, 51 runs batted in and 21 doubles. Ahrens said he is pleased with how he's been playing, but knows there's more work to do.
"I'm content. I feel like I could be better at a bunch of stuff, but that's what baseball is," he said. "[I'm] just trying to work hard every single day and just getting better at the stuff I need to get better at and just to address the weaknesses that I have. I give a lot of credit to Ralph because he's helped me a lot this year on my two strike approach [and] the way I approach each pitcher every night."
Along with his overall approach at the plate, Ahrens is still making progress in terms of his change from a switch-hitter to a righty. He holds a .228 average against lefties this season and a .241 average against righties, and said he likes hitting from just one side of the plate.
"At first I had to get adjusted to seeing the right-hander and seeing the curveball break away from me, but I feel like I've gotten a lot better at it," he said. "I think that really helps because I think my slugging percentage went way up just hitting right-handed compared to left-handed, so I really feel comfortable doing that."
Towards the beginning of the season, Dickenson felt that Ahrens' defensive skills at third base were a liability. Now, he is seeing a lot of progress being made over in the hot corner, and praised Ahrens on his work ethic.
"He's started to field so many more grounders. [He's been] doing early work every day and has even dove for a couple balls during the course of the year," Dickenson said. "His defense has picked up, his range has picked up.
"It doesn't always [show] in the games but you see it in practice where you never saw it before. This guy's been a tireless worker all year long. Day, after day, after day he's been a tireless worker."
Though he has struggled to keep his batting average up and stay consistent at the single-A level, Ahrens is indeed a first round pick and will eventually get his shot in Double-A. Dickenson has confidence that Ahrens could be successful at the next level if he keeps working, among other things, on his flexibility. As for Ahrens, he feels he is now ready to get a call from New Hampshire.
"The first couple years it was tough because I didn't really adjust enough to compete up here, but this year I've really made a difference by the way I work and the way I prepare each day," he said. "I come to the ballpark ready—ready to compete, ready to work hard, and I think that's made the difference to make me able to jump the level, so I'm looking forward to that opportunity."
As a first-round pick back in 2007, Jays' prospect Kevin Ahrens hasn't seen action in a single game above the High-A level. While trying to make the push through the organization, Ahrens has been going through some changes offensively the past couple seasons. For one, he is no longer a switch-hitter, and he is also continuing to make adjustments to his swing.
Ahrens Still Adjusting
No longer switch-hitting, Kevin Ahrens is still making adjustments to his swing.
Dunedin Beat Writer
Ahrens is hitting better against right-handers
Aug 27, 2011