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Feliciano Looks for Contact
The 28 year old outfielder, Jesus Feliciano, looks to build on last season's success, bat above .300 again in New Orleans and break into the Majors.
Playing in over 32 games so far this season, Feliciano has the highest batting average on the Zephyrs at .344. He brings an aggressive swing to the plate, with only two walks and eight strikeouts, and looks to make contact at every at bat.
Zephyrs hitting coach, Jack Voigt has noticed Feliciano's improvement entering into his second season in New Orleans.
"I tell him to continue doing what he is doing, giving us quality at bats and he's fine," Voigt said. "He has a good idea of what he's doing and he has a real good swing. He's really coming into his own in understanding his role on this ball club."
Feliciano attributes his development this season to this time spent working out during the off-season. Like many other native Puerto Ricans, Feliciano was forced to find a new off-season league after the Puerto Rico Winter League was suspended for the 2007 season due to financial reasons.
"During the off-season I played in Venezuela for two months and overall it was a good experience because I got to play against some major league players," Feliciano said.
Since the weather in Venezuela does not allow playing through the winter months, Feliciano had more time to work out on his own and prepare mentally.
"When we do have a league [Puerto Rico], we play all winter, almost to February. So this gave me time to work out physically. This year I went home in December, so I got a little more time off to work out and I think that helped me out."
With Feliciano's improvement he was moved up in the batting order, which will help him achieve his goal of stealing more bases this season and being more productive in scoring runs.
"I think I need to work a little on stealing more bases," Feliciano said. "I'm hitting more in the top of the line up right now so I can do a lot more. I was hitting eight most of the time, and hitting eighth so can't do many things down in the line up."
A unique attribute of left handed Feliciano, which gives him an edge in hitting, is his ability to hit against lefties.
"Being able to hit against lefties makes him stay in his front side, he knows he has to stay in because they are going to feed him a lot of off speed stuff away especially the sweeping left handed breaking balls that typically happens at this level," Voigt said.
Maybe Feliciano's biggest improvement from last season is not physical, but mental. Voigt believes that Feliciano has a better understanding of his role on the team and has a better understanding of how to get good pitches at this level of play. He has also taken control of some of his over aggressiveness and eagerness to get a hit. But at the same time, Feliciano has not completely changed from his style of hitting.
"He's learned what he's needed to do and learned how to control his aggressiveness," Voigt said of Feliciano. "He gets out of whack every once in a while and we have to remind him to get back into his comfort zone. But when he doesn't try and do too much he's a very good hitter."
Feliciano has a good arm and plays solid defense. His ability to make contact, coupled with his speed, should make him an asset on the base paths.
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