When most anyone in baseball tries to learn a new position on the fly, one of the unwritten rules of the game is that he has a good chance of struggling at the plate. For whatever reasons, mental or physical, it just happens.

Just not with Chun Chen.

Chen, a 23-year-old prospect out of Taiwan, traded in his catchers mitt for a first basemans glove for the first time this spring training. Three months into the first-base experiment, hes swinging the bat better for the Double-A Aeros than he has at any level in the Indians system.

Chen hit .262 with 16 home runs and 70 RBI for the Aeros last year. About halfway through his season, hes hitting .326 with 30 RBI and has already matched last years doubles total with 24.

Manager Chris Tremie said a player struggling at the plate while playing a new position is a concern at certain times with certain guys, for sure. Chen just hasnt fallen victim to the trend like so many before him. Though he does have the added bonus of being able to rest his legs with fewer innings crouched behind home plate.

I think going from catcher to first base, if anything, has allowed him to not have so much wear and tear on his body, Tremie said. So hes probably able to feel fresher than he did at times last year. That may attribute to it and it may not, but the transition has been very easy.

Balanced hitter

Chens also done a nice job of hitting the ball to all fields.

Hes real balanced right now, staying inside the ball, Tremie said. Hes had a good path to the ball and youre seeing the results. Hes driving the ball the other way and turning on inside pitches.

Chen noticed how many pitchers began to attack the inside part of the plate and adjusted accordingly.

Theyre pitching me more inside this year, so I take a lot of batting practice on inside pitches, Chen said. I try to do that, think about that every at-bat and I try to hit a double.

Playing the field

Its working. Hes hitting .356 in June, and hes hitting when it counts with a .387 batting average with runners in scoring position.

He began the year hitting as well as he ever has, and hes improved that average each month (.304 in April and then .317 in May).

His bat has stayed consistent. The transition in the field hasnt been as smooth, but its coming along, too.

In the first month, sometimes the ball was hit and I had to think about where I was going, Chen said. So right now Im learning where Im going and working every day on ground balls. Now, I feel more comfortable.

Chen had the physical traits to play a decent first base from Day One.

Hes got good feet, good hands and hes done a nice job of adapting to playing first base, Tremie said. Its just getting used to new positioning with right-handers versus left-handers, coming in, playing back, footwork around the bag. Hes worked hard and hes doing a good job.

And he just keeps hitting no matter what glove he carries with him onto the field.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.