As an offensive force, Cody Overbeck has become a leader on the Double A Reading Phillies squad. The multi-positional Mississipian has 8 homeruns and 22 RBI, which are both good enough to lead the Eastern League.
Overbeck, who stands 6-feet-1-inch tall and weighs 200 pounds, has improved greatly in each of the past two seasons. Thus far in 2011, Overbeck has posted a slash line of .297/.333/.576 (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage). Combined at the two levels last year, Overbeck's output looked like- .276/.354/.490, which was a tremendous improvement over his 2009 statistics. In 96 games with Clearwater 2009, Overbeck's line was an unimpressive .230/.282/.399.
Named by the Eastern League as player of the month for April this season, Overbeck's focus as he progresses is on staying in a groove. He credits his hitting coach Frank Cacciatore for providing him with an extra pair of eyes and an experienced baseball mind to helping him make adjustments where he needs to.
"I think a lot of (my success thus far) has to do with Frank and doing early work and stuff," Overbeck said. "Working with him is spring training really got my swing going pretty good coming into the season.
"Whenever I am doing bad, my rhythm gets all messed up and Frank's always the one that keeps me on track there. We've been doing a lot of drills to keep my rhythm going and continuing to have a good idea at the plate."
A 9th round draft pick in the 2008 draft out of the University of Mississippi, Overbeck made his professional debut that year with short-season Williamsport, and in 72 games he slugged 12 homers and drove in 57 runs, while posting a .272 batting average.
In 2009, Overbeck skipped over Class A Lakewood and went directly to High A Level Clearwater. That season in 96 games, he once against knocked 12 homeruns while driving in 51 runs.
Overbeck returned to Clearwater to begin the 2010 campaign, but he quickly asserted himself as a force in the Florida State League when, in 58 games, he mashed 11 homers, drove in 41 runs and was named to the league's All-star team. Immediately following the FSL All-star game, Overbeck was promoted to Double A, where he continued a solid season, slugging another 12 homeruns in 78 games as a member of the R-Phils.
Overbeck describes playing for new R-Phils manager Mark Parent as a plus for the club this season, as Reading has jumped out to a 17-10 start and is tied for first place in the Eastern League's East division with New Hampshire. Overbeck credited the 13-year Major League veteran with helping the team achieve their early success this season.
"He's been in our shoes before and then to the big leagues, so that helps out a lot. He knows what it takes to get where we're trying to go. He expects a lot out of us and everybody enjoys playing for him and it's gonna benefit us in the long run," Overbeck said.
Overbeck, who has spent time at third base and first base this season and has begun working in the outfield, is a key contributor in the field as well as at the plate. This week, Parent spoke highly of Overbeck's abilities.
"He's got really good hands...his good hand-eye coordination is really good. When he gets to the ball, he's got outstanding pop. His defense- he can play anywhere. He's doing very well," Parent stated.
As buzz surrounding Overbeck grows, some folks have begun to wonder if he could continue to develop at the same rate as he progresses upward. Naturally, time will tell. But, while Overbeck stays focused on the job at hand, he can't help but ponder the same things.
"I'd like to continue at the pace I'm at this year, which might be hard. As far as the season goes, I'll just take it a couple games at a time. Of course, reaching the Majors is in my mind. I think it's in everyone's mind here."
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