Baxter sticks to the plan

Lake Elsinore's Mike Baxter, an outfielder part of the four-man rotation for the Storm, is solidifying himself a job, as he has a .350 on base percentage through 25 games. The Storm outfielder is making his first appearance in the California League and is making a name for himself.

Much of this can be credited to an off-season workout plan, put in place by hitting coach Max Venable.

"I talked to Max last year, and asked him for something for me to work on," said Mike Baxter, "and he focused on me putting on a couple pounds." He ended up packing on 12-pounds of muscle to tip the scales at 195 coming into spring. The added weight, Baxter says, makes him feel strong, and he hopes that it will make sure that his "body is going to be able to hold up for the long season."

Having Venable make the transition to High-A Lake Elsinore with him has been a big factor in his continued production.

"It's exciting to have him back, because he and I relate on a different level," Baxter said. "I am real comfortable with him, so it's good to be working with him, because he keeps things simple for us."

Drafted in the fourth-round of the 2005 draft, Baxter bypassed the Arizona League and Eugene, and was sent straight to Fort Wayne.

After a successful campaign in Fort Wayne, due to better production down the stretch, led him to Lake Elsinore. During the last 30 games of last season, Baxter hit well over .300, which he credited to working with Venable a lot more.

"I am really just trying to focus on being more patient," Baxter explained. "And trying to get a good pitch I could drive in the gaps." Towards the end of the season Baxter said he "found some holes, and gaps, and caught a couple breaks, and everything felt really good towards the end."

Randy Ready, the former manager of the Fort Wayne Wizards, said Baxter had all the intangibles.

Baxter clarified by saying it's his ability to "keep an even keel. Regardless of how things are going, you have to stay mentally prepared everyday."

This preparedness has helped him stay healthy, and he continues to produce as the plate. With continued success, Baxter should make it to the next level to be reunited with Randy Ready, who is now the manager of the Double-A San Antonio Missions.

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