Visit to McCarthy's Hometown...........Kenny Mayne

Monday, July 23, 2007

Braun's start a smashing success

Milwaukee Brewers batting coach Jim Skaalen was working as the coordinator for minor league instruction in the Seattle Mariners' organization in 1994 when a phenom named Alex Rodriguez made his major league debut.

It's important to keep that in mind when Skaalen says he's never seen a hitter adapt to the big leagues better than Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun.

"I was with Seattle when Alex Rodriguez came up through the system and got his first callup and he faltered a little bit his first time or two (in the majors)," Skaalen said of Rodriguez, who hit .204 in 17 games in 1994 and .232 in 48 games the next year before becoming a career .300 hitter.

"That's kind of the normal process. Guys come up here, the game is a little quicker, the command (of pitchers) is a little better, you're playing in front of more people. Call it an intimidation factor, if you want, or an adjustment period."

Braun has been so good so fast he has smashed the learning curve, while somehow exceeding already sky-high expectations after spending less than two full years in the minor leagues.

Since being called up from Class AAA Nashville May 24, Braun has hit a robust .337, with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs. He's third on the team in home runs and RBIs, despite playing in only about half the games of the Brewers' leaders in those categories.

It's not supposed to be as easy as Braun has made it look. His .387 on-base percentage leads the team and his slugging percentage of .648 tops even Fielder, the National League's home run leader.

Braun has emerged as a top contender for rookie of the year honors despite missing the first seven weeks of the season.

If Braun was off to this kind of start while playing in a bigger market, he would probably be a national story already. Instead, he's just another of the young colts in the Brewers' stable. Braun looks at it as an ideal situation, learning from players like Fielder, Hardy and Rickie Weeks, who recently went through the same things he's experiencing for the first time.

Read More here about Braun here from Tom Mulhern's article in the Wisconsin State Journal:

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