Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Andy Wilkins explains remakable hot streak

Indianapolis Indians play-by-play man Will Flemming summed up Andy Wilkins’ last two weeks as well as anyone this past Wednesday.

“You - have - got - to be kidding me,” Flemming muttered following a Wilkins’ third-inning grand slam against his Indians.

The home run was Wilkins’ second of the game – he hit a three-run shot in the first – and his double-take-inducing ninth in seven games.

“That one was the craziest,” said Wilkins on Tuesday, a day after earning his second consecutive International League Batter of the Week Award. “You hit a home run in the first inning of that game and then you hit a grand slam after that. I remember thinking that things just can’t get any better than that.”

In 13 games since the All-Star Break all Wilkins, 25, has done is hit a measly .538 (28-for-52) with 10 home runs and 24 runs knocked in.

The 6-foot-1-inch 220-pound first baseman’s 26 long balls and 70 RBIs this season, currently top the league.

“It’s been incredibly shocking,” said Wilkins. “For a week there, I just kept hitting home runs. It was like, ‘Good lord, what is happening?’ So I’ve enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.”

Wilkins, who hit .252 before the break, credits his recent assault on Class AAA pitching to an improved timing mechanism.

“I’ve figured out this little toe tap and it’s just helped my timing a ton and finally gotten me to a consistent place at the plate,” said Wilkins, whose average now sits at .291. “In baseball, you’re not going to get a hit every time, but I at least feel like I’m giving myself the best possible chance to be in a good hitting position when it’s time to swing.”

With an IL-high 150 home runs hit at BB&T BallPark entering Tuesday, it’s been suggested that Wilkins’ power surge might be the result of hitting in a place fans have begun to affectionately dub, “The Catapult.” 

However, Wilkins has split his 26 long balls straight down the middle, with 13 at home and 13 on the road.

Over the last couple weeks both Baseball America and have come out with their updated versions of each Major League team’s top 20 prospects. Nowhere on either list will you find Wilkins’ name.

While acknowledging that it’d be nice to be on such a list, Wilkins said that the omission hasn’t changed the way he approaches the game.

“I’m just trying to put up the best numbers I can while I help my team win,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think everything will take care of itself. If me being on a prospect list is the only way I’m going to get to the big leagues, then there’s a flaw in the system. It doesn’t bother me, or motivate me any more or less."

With the non-waiver Major League trade deadline set for this Thursday and September roster expansion quickly approaching, there will be a handful of Knights making the jump to the big leagues.

Should Wilkins continue to hit like he has, the no-fly list is the only one that could keep him from Chicago.

“It would be a dream come true (to be called up),” Wilkins said. “It’s something you think about as a kid.

“Growing up, you feel silly. I can remember when I was in school and having people asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to play baseball and people just kind of looked at me. It’s been my dream forever.” 

Extras that didn’t make the paper:

Wilkins on hitting at BB&T BallPark…

“The stadium is such a hitter friendly park, but I find that the harder you try to hit a home run, the less likely it is to happen. I’ve tried to keep the same approach being at home and on the road and I think that’s why I’ve been able to hit the same amount of home runs (13) here as I have on the road (13).”

Wilkins on his aggressive approach at the plate…

“Well, for me, I’m just trying to look for a good pitch to hit. In the past, I’ve noticed that I’ve walked a lot more, but then if you look back on some of those at-bats I maybe missed some key pitches that I could have done some damage with.

“I’ve just been looking to find a good pitch out over the plate that I can drive and if I don’t get that, then I’m fine with taking the walk. A lot of these guys are good pitchers and sometimes it’s best not to get behind and let them go to their nasty stuff. If I can try to be selective in the zone and get something to drive, I try to do that.”

Any superstitions?

“I guess you could say I’m pretty boring. I’m not a big superstition guy. It’s funny. There’s been days in the past, not this year, where I’ll have a really good game and I’ll be like, ‘Ok, what did I do that day?’ and try to recall everything, but I just can’t do that. It just gets exhausting. I just try to stay the same mentally every day. “