Biloxi Shuckers

Brewers power-hitting prospect Victor Roache making strides at the plate

 Victor Roache returns as left fielder for the Biloxi Shuckers, Saturday, Apr. 2, 2016.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Victor Roache returns as left fielder for the Biloxi Shuckers, Saturday, Apr. 2, 2016.

Biloxi Shuckers outfielder Victor Roache has always been a man who can hit the long ball.

In college at Georgia Southern, he smacked a nation-leading 30 home runs as a sophomore in 2011. In his three years in the Milwaukee Brewers' organization, Roache has hit at least 18 homers each season.

The next step for Roache is improving on his batting average and doing a better job of getting on base.

The native of Ypsilanti, Mich., has seen a slight uptick in his batting average so far in 2016 with a .283 clip through 16 games. He batted .253 in 2015 while splitting time between Double-A Biloxi and Single-A Brevard County, Fla..

Roache's career batting average as a pro stands at .244 and he has an on base percentage of .316.

He only has one homer so far in 2016, but there's nobody in the Biloxi lineup that can hit the ball harder and farther than the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Roache.

"Once he makes contact with the ball, you know the strength he has," Biloxi manager Mike Guerrero said. "He can become a pretty good hitter. If he chases, that's when hitters get in trouble. He's got to stay away from chasing and be selective about the pitches he's going to hit."

Roache struck out 158 times in 2015 and had a total of 433 K's in his three years as a pro. That's a number that Roache knows he has to improve on going forward.

"I'm a power guy," Roache said. "The main thing for me is to make contact. That's something I've struggled with since I got to pro ball - consistent, solid contact."

Roache and Biloxi hitting coach Sandy Guerrero, the manager's brother, have spent plenty of time going over his approach at the plate. While he can easily clear the 350-foot power alleys at MGM Park, he can't have his eye on the fence when he approaches the batter's box.

"I'm not up there thinking about hitting a home run," Roache said. "I'm just trying to put my barrel on the ball. I tell myself that before every at-bat - shorten up and just be quick to the ball and not long."

Roache arrived in the Brewers organization with plenty of expectations as a first-round selection in 2012 out of Georgia Southern. He was the 28th overall pick in an MLB Draft that featured young stars like Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell.

He was promoted to Biloxi midway through the 2015 season and batted .247 with eight homers and 35 RBIs against Double-A pitching.

While the first-round selection brings plenty of pressure, Roache has tried not to look too far ahead at his ultimate goal - joining the big league parent Milwaukee Brewers.

"I try not to think about it too much," Roache said. "That's everybody's dream. For me, I need to focus on the now - the next pitch, the next at-bat. I can't think about what's going to happen in the future, what's happened in the past. I have to put myself in the best position to succeed."

The early going in 2016 has been up and down for Roache with the highlight being a combined 6-for-8 effort at the plate on back-to-back nights on April 19 and 20.

He ranks second behind Javier Betancourt (.340) in batting average for a Shuckers team that has an overall average of .231.

Roache, who went 1-for-3 Tuesday in a 9-3 loss at Mississippi, credits his work with Sandy Guerrero for the solid start to the season.

"It's just me and Sandy working every day," he said. "I'm working to put myself in the best position to put the bat on the ball. I feel comfortable up there and hopefully I can keep rolling."