LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBS) – Outfielder Anthony Hewitt was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2008 (24th overall), out of Salisbury (Conn.) High School.

Of course expectations are always high for early draft picks, but Hewitt’s first three seasons didn’t go quite as planned in the Phils’ minor league system.  During those campaigns, Hewitt moved up the ladder but only hit .197, .223, and .202 in the process.   That .202 came last season at Single-A Lakewood, and it included 158 strikeouts in 440 at-bats.

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But it looks like Hewitt has started to turn the corner in 2011.  Spending a second straight season with the BlueClaws, Hewitt is really starting to show all the tools that made him such a high draft pick.  He is hitting .259 this season, with 11 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, and a career-high 15 steals.

“(I’m) feeling great, feeling really comfortable,” he tells KYW Newsradio.  Just getting into myself a little better than I have in the past and having a lot of fun.”

Hewitt doesn’t hesitate when asked where he has taken the biggest stride since being drafted.

“Maturity. Maturity, patience — and just letting everything come to me real slow,” he says.  “Learning not to get frustrated too easy, learning that everything doesn’t happen overnight.  Just being mature as the years go by.”
Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Anthony Hewitt in this CBS Philly SportsPod…

Lakewood manager Chris Truby has been impressed with what he has seen from Hewitt in 2011:

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“He’s doing great.  He’s a guy that, mentally, he’s more there now than I think he ever was.  I think part of it is learning how to deal with failure, and I think now he’s taking on the attitude of ‘me against the world’ where ‘I’m going to go out there and I’m going to compete and I’m going to put my best foot forward and if it doesn’t happen today, it’s going to happen tomorrow.’ ”

Hewitt was an infielder in high school but has been moved to the outfield in the minors.  He says the last few years have been difficult because, like most high school superstars, he really had no experience dealing with failure on the field:

“Without a doubt, it is tough,” he says.  “That’s a big learning curve.  Once you learn how to deal with adversity then you can grow as an athlete.  Then you can reach a plateau you never thought possible.”

Hewitt still strikes out a lot — 69 in his first 189 at-bats this season — and he doesn’t walk really at all; he has just 36 career walks as a professional in more than a thousand plate appearances.

But Truby thinks better plate discipline can come for Hewitt:

“I think the more at-bats that he gets under his belt, the better those numbers will get.  He’s from an area where he didn’t play a whole lot of high school baseball, not like the Florida or California kids.  So each at-bat is a learning thing for him, and I think the more at-bats he gets, the more pitches he sees, the better that part of his game will become.”

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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