Over the last few weeks, shortstop Hector Tiburcio has turned into one of the Potomac Cannons' most dependable hitters. All it took was a few adjustments to his batting stance and a little more patience at the plate.
"Basically, he's playing his game," said Potomac Manager Edgar Caceres, who also worked with Tiburcio three years ago when they were both in the Gulf Coast League, a rookie league. "He's not trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. He's using his strength, which is to hit line drives and put the ball in play."
Tiburcio, 22, was an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He is batting .444 in his last five games and .333 in his last 10. In a 7-4 win over Wilmington on Tuesday, Tiburcio hit a two-run single in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie.
The adjustments Tiburcio made to his stance were minor, but the payoff was major. By crouching lower at the plate and raising his bat, Tiburcio put himself in a better position to hit the ball. He also has tried not to be in such a hurry at the plate or to blast the ball out of the park.
"They work with him on his stance, to see the ball well," said Potomac's Rafael Motooka, who interpreted for Tiburcio. "Don't try to hit hard, just see the ball and contact it."
The most important thing is for Tiburcio to reach base, because that is when he is at his most productive. Blessed with good instincts and speed, Tiburcio has stolen 13 bases this season, which ranks seventh in the Carolina League. However, he has been caught stealing six times.
"His role on the team is to get on base and try to get the other base, then wait for the big guys to drive him in," Caceres said. "That's his job."
Tiburcio's lack of patience has hurt him in the field as well; his 15 errors put him in a tie for the team lead. Last season with Class A Dayton, Tiburcio finished with 38 errors.
"He got a lot of errors throwing the ball," Motooka said. "He is trying to have a little bit more control, trying to rush less and throw hard less."