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August 19, 2014

Going Yard

Four Impressive High School Hitters

by Ryan Parker


Going to San Diego for the Perfect Game All-American Classic was an experience I will never forget. I got to see the best amateur hitters in the country show off their craft. I saw lots of good things and lots of things I would change if I could. For all the attention these kids are getting, they are just that: kids. I work with athletes like this every day and I know all of these players have swings that are constantly evolving. Keeping that in mind, I won’t nitpick my way through their swings and flaws. Rather, I want to celebrate particular hitters that caught my eye.

The most talked-about hitters in the draft are Daz Cameron and Brendan Rodgers. They put on shows as expected. I knew they would be elite and they did nothing to diminish this standing. Therefore, I want to explore some of the less hyped hitters:

  • Nicholas Shumpert
  • Ryan Mountcastle
  • Kep Brown
  • Kyle Tucker

Nicholas Shumpert caught my attention in the early workouts and kept me rapt all weekend long. He’s not big, but the ball explodes off his bat. I’m a sucker for bat speed and Shumpert has it in spades. The unique thing is how Shumpert generates this bat speed.

Shumpert is a plus runner with a plus arm. He plays shortstop but has the speed for center field. The foot speed and arm strength mean he can move his arms and legs very fast. Fast-twitch guys usually have very “snappy” swings: They are so used to moving fast in every other aspect of the game that they can struggle to create the slow and controlled movements they need in the box. Usually these guys have quick pre-swing movements and they “snap” the bat through the zone. (Think Jose Reyes.)

Shumpert starts his swing extremely early and there is nothing abrupt in his progression. His first movement is a tiny rock backward before picking up his stride foot. It helps him establish timing but a few times I saw him rock back and end up stuck on his back foot. As he lifts his leg he slots his hands by tilting the bat with his bottom hand and letting his back elbow move up and back just a bit. These movements occur while he is moving forward so that when the foot lands he is ready to unload.

As he lands, his hips are waiting to fire. Once that happens, it allows everything else to follow. His back elbow and back knee progress forward at the proper time while his hands stay in front of his elbows. The bat launch has elements of how Josh Hamilton accomplishes this movement. Both hitters use the torque from their hips to launch while keeping their hands in good position.

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<< Previous Article
Notes About Baseball: ... (08/19)
<< Previous Column
Going Yard: The Great ... (08/05)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Going Yard: The Magica... (09/11)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Beco... (08/19)

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