Big thanks to Corey Brinn for shooting these two videos in spring training. Also a big thanks to Project Prospect’s swing analyst Steve Carter for doing the breakdown’s of the video and swings.

Billy Hamilton

It shouldn’t be surprising that Billy Hamilton looks very raw in his first fore into switch hitting. Even pre-teens look raw and uncoordinated their first time, as there is almost no muscle memory to work off of. Hamilton has some wasted movement with a premature “pull back” load after starting with his hands close to his ear. This move puts his hands close to the proper launch position of being in the general area of his rear shoulder, but throws off the ever so important “gather” portion of his swing. The gathering of energy over your rear leg is one of the most important aspects of hitting, and Hamilton misses out due to the wasted movement as well as not pausing and gathering himself before attacking the baseball.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that his best swings come when he gets to two strikes, and uses a two strike approach. He’s more spread out and has eliminated the wasted movement from his normal set up, which allows him to be more centered and balanced. When he goes with his two strike approach, he’s hitting from a much stronger position, and has far less head movement. Since his game is not centered on power and he’s more of a speed and contact guy, I would use the two strike approach full time until he’s fully learned how to work his body in a left handed swing. Just like with a young child first learning how to swing, there has to be a general groundwork of muscle memory laid before you get too fancy. If Hamilton sticks with the two strike approach full time, the learning process would be greatly accelerated and once he’s learned how to trust what his body can do and his body knows how to do it, he can open things up a bit in an effort to drive the ball more. Hamilton is not yet 20 years old, and has plenty of time to iron things out.

Yorman Rodriguez

Yorman Rodriguez’s wiry frame and tools are certainly easy to dream on. There is still some concern over the bat, but it’s still way too early to make a full judgment of what kind of hitter he’ll be, and there actually is a decent framework for a better swing down the road. Rodriguez prematurely moves his hands back as his front foot comes down, pauses, then has to restart all over again and swing from there. It looks inefficient because it is, but this is essentially a Rudy Jaramillo hitting drill that Rodriguez has taken and turned into his swing. (Not to say he got it from Jaramillo, but hands back as foot comes down is his basic separation principle.) This type of move is the correct move when done properly, but Rodriguez throws things off by adding in a pause. This pause creates a gap in his energy and bat speed production, as well as expulsion.

Ideally you want the hands going back movement to be dynamic and rhythmic so that one can achieve the proper upper body “stretch”. This stretch is how you develop easy bat speed and quickly redirect your swing forward into the hitting zone. Rodriguez has shown glimpses of this in batting practice, but hasn’t yet transferred it into games full time. The changing of speeds and pitch types in games forces him to be more defensive, and he starts to bring the pause back in. But as I said before, the basic groundwork is there for him to have solid hitting mechanics. He just hasn’t yet figured it all out, as they say. Once he becomes more dynamic and rhythmic with his load, he would quickly improve his bat speed, swing quickness and body control. As it stands, the pause throws off not only his bat speed and quickness, but causes him to rush. This rush doesn’t let him let the ball travel as deep as it can, and he has to commit too soon. (This helps explain some of his troubles against off speed pitches, apart from simply being young and inexperienced.) It’s safe to say that Rodriguez is a work in progress, but underneath his current swing lay some fairly decent mechanics. With his frame and tools, if he figures his swing out and becomes more efficient, he could be a very productive hitter. But that looks to be several years away, so some patience will be needed.

Written by Steve Carter of ProjectProspect.com

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