MOOSIC — It’s a Wednesday afternoon, over two hours before batting practice, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders hitting coach P.J. Pilittere is standing 10 feet from home plate under-handing baseballs to Tyler Austin and Greg Bird.
With a screen on the outside part of the plate, the first basemen are working on shorting their swings. While the correction won’t take place overnight, Austin did go 2 for 4 with a double in Wednesday’s 6-5 win.
“I was trying to get a feel of staying inside the ball,” Austin tells the media that night. “It’s one of those things where I feel like my swing has been a little long for me the past few days and I feel like (Wednesday) was good for me to get some of that work done.”
When Austin joined the RailRiders on May 26, he was in the middle of his major league rehab. He has since finished his rehab and optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for the foreseeable future.
However, it’s only now that Austin is finally starting to feel comfortable at the plate. Heading into the weekend series in Buffalo, the first baseman had recorded multi-hit efforts in four of his last six games.
“I feel good. I feel like I’m making strides every day at the plate and defensively,” he said. “I think its more of just getting reps, picking up spin of the ball and swinging at pitches in the zone. I feel like that’s the big thing for me right now and I’m trying to do every time I go up there.”
Mitchell accepting pitch count
When RailRiders starting pitcher Bryan Mitchell was pulled after he threw his 60th pitch Thursday night, he was frustrated.
Though the 26-year-old had given up a pair of runs when he was pulled with two outs in the fourth inning, he had racked up four strikeouts. But Mitchell is currently pitching with a pitch limit that has been sent down from above.
“It’s tough when you’re used to starting and you know you have 100 pitches to go out there and try to battle and work out of your jams,” Mitchell said. “There’s not really much I can do about it right now. Just keep pitching. Try to make better pitches when I can. Pitch as deep as I can with what I have.”
While Mitchell has been a starter for the RailRiders this season, he’s come out of the bullpen 11 times for the Yankees this season.
Torres heating up
It’s taken Gleyber Torres a little time to get accustom to Triple-A, but he’s starting to make his mark entering his fourth weekend with the RailRiders.
The Yankees top prospect owns a .327 batting average in 13 games between May 31 and June 15. Torres has doubled, tripled, homered twice and batted in an impressive 13 runs over that stretch.
“We had a nice conversation a couple days ago where he said he’s starting to understand how teams are starting to pitch him and how certain pitchers are going after him, which is a good thing,” Pilittere said. “It means he’s aware, he realizes it’s about making adjustments here and now he feels confident that he knows how guys are going to attack him and now he can just play his game.
“I think we’re seeing that because we’re seeing a lot more controlled swings, we’re seeing deeper counts, we’re seeing good, battled at-bats, putting the ball in play a lot more regularly and hitting the ball the opposite way.”
Torres had gone 7 for 36 over his first 11 Triple-A games before turning it around on June 5.