Talk prospects and hitting mechanics in Ryan Parker's inaugural BP chat.
Ryan Parker: Sorry for the delay. It's 2-0 and I'm sitting fastball. Let's light it up. First chat here on BP and I couldn't be more pumped! Time to get it rolling.
DServi4 (Maryland ): As a baseball coach , what are some resources you recommend to learn more about the swing and how to properly teach it?
Ryan Parker: This will sound like an after school special but your own curiosity and the crazy amounts of info available will be your best tools. . Most hitting coaches love to talk about their craft. You can email me anytime through my BP email. I could talk hitting all day long.
What will also help is a place to practice what you learn. A tee and a popup net/cage can become your laboratory. It's one thing to know about certain aspects of the swing, it's another to know how those aspects physically feel. Hope that made sense.
maxpowers (Chicago): Loved the article about putting a 70 on Tapia ' s hit tool. Has there ever been a player to sport an actual 80 in the majors? Ted Williams? Tony Gwynn?
Ryan Parker: Yes. 80's do exist otherwise the scale would only run 20-70. If a guy is a generational hitter then don't be afraid to put down an 80. Ted and Tony both had 80 hit grades. Early to mid 2000's Ichiro would too. Even Bonds just for his supreme knowledge of the zone and his surgical approach would get an 80.
JC (CoMo): Is it ever too early to teach a kid to switch hit? Or is there some advantage to learning one side of the plate before taking on the other?
Ryan Parker: I would suggest finding out which side is his dominant side and at least establishing a feel for one side. Once it's decent then feel free to give switch hitting a shot. No use doing it before 10 or 11 but around that age is a good time to start seeing if switch hitting is a possibility. The other thing you have to consider is no kid wants to be bad in little league. If (hypothetical) Timmy is going to mash right handed but struggle lefty how long do you think he will even give baseball a shot if half his at bats are a train wreck? Let the kids get good before going extra curricular.
The Dude (Unknown): I consider myself to be fairly knowledgable about hitting, but I can't teach my 5-6 year olds anything to save my life. Help?
Ryan Parker: Those age kids can't really make fine motor adjustments. You have to work on the bigger movements because trying to teach them the high level stuff will go over their heads.
I would focus on balance at the start and finish. Make sure their first movement in the swing is slow and easy. Kids those age want to rush and just whip their arms around. So start slow but still swing hard. Once they get that idea the deepest I would go is talking about having a flat swing. Tell them to think of hitting a ball off of a table (tell them don't break the table by chopping up or down). Then see if they can balance at the end of their swing. Show them a trophy with a guy at the end of his swing and tell them to hold that position for one second at the very end. Every kid likes trophies so the visual usually works.
Sparknotes version: Work on the slow and gradual start- Work on getting to a decent follow through with a flat swing- work on balance.
Adalberto (KC): At the lower levels, what are you looking for most in regards to hitting? Plate discipline? Contact rates? Power? Are strikeouts really that bad for a player in his first full year??
Ryan Parker: I'm looking for balance, batspeed, fluidity, and repetition. The stats don't need to be insane just good enough. Strikeouts can be bad but I'll look at how they are striking out. Are they getting hosed by minor league umps? Are they 18 years old striking out against 24 year olds? Do they chase?
I'm also looking for any sort of adjustments. Even minor things are a huge plus for newly professional hitters as so many guys are just looking to smash with no plan or no feel for their own swing.
Zach (CT): I play at the D3 level and feel like one of the biggest problems with my swing is not loading my hands far back enough. I always have to tell myself to load enough when I hit, but when I look at a professional hitter's mechanics in slo-mo I don't see a huge take back. Am I missing something when I watch these videos or is an exaggerated load not an essential part of a swing?
Ryan Parker: Email me. Get some video and I will help you out man.
I need to see the swing or at least talk in out in more detail. Good news is there are a ton of ways to fix this without making you feel forced within your own swing. Seriously email me or do the twitter thing. Looking forward to this buddy.
Dude (not at work): That Raimel Tapia article was amazing. Can you please tell us more about him? How is he different from say, Nick Williams? Some people have put a 7 on his hit tool as well. Thanks Ryan!
Ryan Parker: What do you want to know? Point me in a direction and I'll wax poetic about the one and only Tapia.
Nick Williams is pure batspeed. I wish my players could swing like Nick and hit like Tapia. That's the difference. William's has the tools but Tapia has the skills.
I don't see a 7 on Nick's bat. He can't adjust like Tapia.
Tapia is the finely tuned F1 car. Nick Williams is the jet engine dragster.
Dave (LA): Subjective/aesthetics question: who do you think has the prettiest swing in the game today?
Ryan Parker: Joey Bats. #legkick
Mark (Denver): Are you concerned about Raimel Tapia's home/road splits?
Ryan Parker: Not one bit.
RatedRookie (Atlanta): Best/worst qualities of Javier Baez's hitting? Likeliest area of improvement?
Ryan Parker: Best- Violence
It's a live by the sword die by the sword sort of thing.
Best- Bat speed
Worst- no ability to adjust
SK (Boston): Is Adalberto Mondesi overrated? I understand he has consistently been young for his level, but at some point he has to put up numbers offensively, right?
Ryan Parker: Not at all. CJ Wittman could tell you more than I could but Mondesi is pure lotion in the field (very smooth) and seems to have more pop in his bat every time I've gotten a look at him. All that matters is that he lights it up in the show right? Every time I've seen him go against top flight competition he impresses. He will shine in the majors.
Jeff (Bay Area): How hard is it for a batter to tone down his swing to sacrifice power for contact? Specifically thinking of a guy like Hunter Renfroe, who can hit the ball a mile but might do better trying to hit it a half-mile.
Ryan Parker: Very hard. You have to work within the hitter and their approach to find a happy place. I love Renfroe. He loves to hit and trys to show it off all the time. Renfroe handles velocity very well. Saw plenty of him last summer.
Look at Joey Gallo. His adjustment history is awesome. Renfroe just needs to find a similar plan.
Ron (Louisville): What's the highest present grade you'd put on a high school bat? It's tough to picture any high schooler hitting .250 if you dropped him into the majors.
Ryan Parker: Right I'd put a 4. Most hs guys get 3's so anything different should get noticed as a special bat. Development takes time and can't be done against typcial HS competition.
Joe Random (San Jose): just to put things into perspective, which recent all stars have a 7 hit tool? would you hang an 8 on Joe Mauer?
Ryan Parker: Mauer did have an 8 but injuries and age took it all the way down to a 6 at worst. Gasp! Dude will find his swing and continue to mash
Current 7's- Altuve, Miggy, Cano, Trout and VMart... ok and Braun too. Tulo is a 7 this year.
Zach (CA): Thoughts on Grant Holmes thus far?
Ryan Parker: How did he fall so far in the draft? Love the kid and love his hair. Dude is a competitor on the mound. It's intense. He could be a workhorse starter or shove out of the pen if the Dodgers really wanted to get creative. This was an insanely good get for LA
Joe Random (San Jose): The Professor said he was hearing McCutchen comps to Dahl if everything breaks right. Thoughts?
Ryan Parker: Dahl won't have dreads but the profile is similar. Love the comp.
Leo (Olney, MD): After watching Anthony Rendon a lot this season, I've noticed that he seems make a few in-game adjustments against some very good pitching. He has such good barrel manipulation and extremely quick hands to generate sneaky plus power. One thing I have noticed is that he does not seem to maximize his legs during his swing. With a special talent like him, would you work to utilize that lower half to tap into even more power? He looks like such a special player that could hit 25-30+ HRs even without such a mechanical tweak.
Ryan Parker: No. Rendon uses his legs fine. He doesn't have to big leg kick or the loud bryce harper back foot but the big leg muscles are doing their job just fine. Like you said he could hit 25-30 anyways so I'd let Rendon just keep doing his thing.
Scott (Chucktown): Can you provide some insight into Hosmer and Chris Davis's struggles so far this year? Think they turn it around? Is Hosmer fixable, and will he ever live up to his potential?
Ryan Parker: Chucktown? Charleston?
anyways Hosmer tinkers all the time so it's hard for him to even have a solid base. He has some balance issues. Watch how he falls towards 3rd base on hits. It's there. Hosmer could be a monster. He is still super young. Crazy flexible too. Awesome. His ceiling was super high but he might just get there given time.
Davis... man everything is rushed and quick. He needs the Joey Bats fix of start early and move slow. That alone should help him. I would not be surprised if he went bonkers in the second half.
Ace (PA): What is the biggest myth about hitting?
Ryan Parker: The myth is that their is a perfect swing. Each person has their own perfect swing but there will never be a system, or program, or whatever that you could plug a hitter into and he turns into a monster.
The other myth is more semantic. Everyone is looking to fix swings. Prevent what could go wrong. We need to remeber to maximize what can go right. Balance the risk and reward.
Frankie (Wichita): You talk about slotting the bat a lot. What's that mean?
Ryan Parker: getting to this position
Jared (LA): Tell me everything I need to know about hitting mechanics in 10 words or less.
Ryan Parker: See ball. Move slow. Swing quick. Be loose. Have balance.
That was ten right?
Chris (Phoenix): If the current version of Adrian Beltre was just coming up, would coaches and scouts be down on his hit tool and try to "fix" him whereas now, what he does works so well that there isn't a reason to fix even with the insane follow through and falling down?
Ryan Parker: nope because all of that is done with balance and most of that stuff is pure theatrics anyways. I love Beltre. For your enjoyment http://imgur.com/gallery/kwPzi
Thomas (New York): How do you see Gallos hit tool playing out? Is he more than just Russell Branyan?
Ryan Parker: I see Gallo being far more than Russell Branyan. The hit tool should be at least a 5 and that is saying something. Gallo will be special.
Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Ryan, Tapia is getting a lot of love lately. How does his hit tool compare to that of Taveras and how will his power match up to OT when he is fully developed?
Ryan Parker: Haven't seen OT but Tap's power will be a full grade below.
maxpowers (chicago): Taveras is struggling out of the gate. Do you see anything that concerns you, or is it just a slow start?
Ryan Parker: Slow start. Big league arms are playing on his aggressiveness. When he gets hot and he will it's gonna be a show.
Derek (MO): What's your favorite hitting stance?
Ryan Parker: Manny. Simple and relaxed.
Scott (Chucktown): Yes, Charleston.
Ryan Parker: dude come out to ECBA in west ashley sometime. That's where I'll be probably working with some kid or hitting off a tee. That's like my yoga. Also Folly Road sucks. I know you'll understand.
Jay (PHX): I don't know much you've seen Michael Choice, but I have a theory that his noisy front leg is causing him all sorts of problems including a visible loss of balance when he swings at pitches on the outer third. Thoughts? Can a guy with his profile contribute even league average plate production with that kind of timing mechanism?
Ryan Parker: I don't like it but you don't know if you take away that stride if he falls off a cliff even harder. That would be a change for the offseason. Physical gifts are there.
Derek (MO): What is the key component to hitting? What are some hitting flaws? What do you evaluate first-off at a level like Double-A in hitters?
Ryan Parker: If I knew or anybody knows you will have an instant millionaire on your hands. I mean timing is huge but its how you can create and repeat that timing that gets tricky.
Flaws... tons. Like libraries could be made covering flaws.
and I don't get to the level of milb very often. Most single a and rookie ball guys. Sorry wish I could help.
Ace (PA): Did you see any of Luis Severino's starts while he was with Charleston? If so, what notes did you take?
Ryan Parker: He's a poor man's Alexi Ogando. The velo is good but he catches lots of the plate and I was never wowed. Should contribute at big league level.
Ryan (DC): Loved your articles on Tapia and Gallo. What prospects have potential plus or plus plus hit and power combos? Taveras comes to mind. Dahl? N. Williams?
Ryan Parker: Haven't seenOT
Dahl is close. should be 6+ hit and 55 power.
Nick Williams could be a 6/6 but its a much riskier profile.
Scott (Chucktown): Folly Road does suck. Awesome, I'll have to bring my 3 year old down there. That's all he ever wants to do is play ball.
Ryan Parker: I'll be there all day tomorrow. We open at 230 and I'll be free after 330. Small world man. shoot me an email buddy. This is too cool.
Matt Bowen @ Fathead (Detroit): Pick one: Who's better in four years, Bryant or Gallo.
Ryan Parker: Gallo. no doubt.
Mark (Philly): When do you expect Jon Gray and Robert Stephenson to reach the majors? How has their stock changed so far this season?
Ryan Parker: I can only speak on Gray (haven't seen Rob). Gray is going through some forced development. Happens with pitchers. Gray is still going to be a horse at the big league level. I saw him pitch for OU and he was literally steaming... like steam was coming off of him into the cold night. That's some intensity right there.
StrawMan (Brimingham): have you seen any of Travis Demeritte? I know it's not your neck of the woods, just wondering what you think of his swing.
Ryan Parker: It's kinda my neck of the woods. Charleston, SC. He's got some flaws and he's a bit forced actually getting the bat going but once it does... contact is loud. There's going to be swing and miss but I like him. Saw him hit a neck high fastball into the DMV parking lot behind Charleston's field.
JasonPennini (Denver): What do you expect from Bryce Harper the rest of the year?
Ryan Parker: The all star break is a blessing for him. He's really pressing. Watch him take pitches. He'll let it go by and then look towards the ump hoping the call goes his way even on pitches that arent close. I expect solid but not elite stats. Think 2012. Dude just has to stay healthy.
Thomas (NY): Do you think that there is a chance that Tapia becomes like Gwynn with the bat?
Ryan Parker: No. There is only one Gwynn. Tapia has some features similar to Gwynn but if I steal the rims of a Ferrai and put them on my Subaru my car didn't become something similar to a Ferrari.
Tapia will be special. Gwynn was generational.
NatsGM (Bethesda MD): Ryan,
When you are first evaluating a high school or college hitter either to help improve his swing and/or from a scouting perspective, what are the first few things you focus on or identify in his swing?
Ryan Parker: Balance, repetition, fluidity, vision, and internal timing (when things fire in a swing).
I'm looking for some batspeed but more importantly how they create that speed. Is a skinny kid with crazy strong wrists making the bat blur? Imagine what he can do when he fills out. Is another guy just selling out and going max effort? thats not impressive.
Joe Random (San Jose): while watching Dahl and Tapia did you see much of Ryan McMahon? what did you think of him? he had a torrid start power-wise, but then cooled off immensely.
Ryan Parker: I saw a ton of him.
Much better athlete than I expected and very solid in the field. I like the physical tools but the swing never wowed me. Lots of movement with his hands post foot strike. Could be a guy, I would for sure keep my eye on him.
Skinny Pete (Albuquerque ): I remember reading that you loved Michael Conforto, what about him did you love and what should Mets fans expect?
Ryan Parker: Quick hands and a solid base. The kid just hits. And its easy. Don't expect huge power but the avg will be there along with consistency. I tend to not like college bats but Conforto is the real deal.
JoJo (SD): Everyone talks about bat speed with Baez and Frazier, etc. Can you give us some lesser known prospect names, or guys you are just higher on than the industry, who's swings stand out to you?
Ryan Parker: Michael De Leon. The swing isn't crazy awesome but he's 16 or 17 with some easy pop in his bat. He's like a 16 year old coach out there. The stats suck now but give it time. This kid has it... whatever "it" is.
Smush Parker (Dubai): What is your take on Dominic Smith?
Ryan Parker: Lots of hip drift. It's ok for the hips to move forward but it should be done before the foot hits the ground. His foot plants and he keeps drifting. I worry that move is so engrained in him that fixing it my introduce a host of other problems into his swing.
gerrybraun (San Diego): Loved your piece on Raimel Tapia, and I'm wondering if you might share some thoughts on the future of the Rockies outfield. Longterm, do they choose Blackmon or Dickerson (and who would you choose) or is neither likely to accompany Tapia and Dahl in the outfield of, say, 2018?
Ryan Parker: Neither. Tapia and Dahl could cover that outfield by themselves. I believe Cargo would still be there at that time so that's a loaded outfield.
oakiegu007 (NY): I had thought that Hunter Dozier was listed as a potential 6/6 in his last eye witness account. Does this mean that Nick Williams and Dozier have similar hit/power tools? What are your thoughts on Dozier?
Ryan Parker: They do grade wise but get there in very... extremely.. titanically different ways. Williams is speed and Dozier is strength. Dozier's ceiling is a bit lower but much safer floor.
If everyone played baseball the way Dozier does there would be world peace. Look for the spring training notes on him. I. Love. #Bulldozier.
hightowersmith (Dallas): Thanks for the chat. Your writing is fresh, mang. How much more confident can Texas fans be in Mazara and Beras considering their hot streaks? Too small a sample? All part of pitcher/hitter adjustments? Or breakthrough?
Ryan Parker: I'm gonna assume that was a compliment. So your questions in order:
-Confident but more so in Mazara.
-Yes its small but don't completely disregard it. Phrasing boom
Brendan (Indy): Do you do much work with or look at pitcher's mechanics at all or do you mainly focus on hitters?
Ryan Parker: I do and I love it. Ask Doug Thorburn. He probably regrets giving me his number because I'm always texting him asking him random pitching questions.
Hitters are easier to focus on for me because I can work with a hitter every day. If I had a pitcher throw a pen every day I should be thrown in jail.
oakiegu007 (Followup!): Ryan, thanks!
If he has such strength in his swing, when should we expect to see his power show up?
Ryan Parker: When was the last time the Royals developed a power bat in their system? They play to the park and pump out guys who rip line drives and can hit bombs but whose game isn't predicated by the long ball.
So it might be awhile but it's there. Watch him in BP. It's loud.
Ronald Guzman (Hickory): What happened to me? I thought I was supposed to have the best instincts of all of my Hickory superteam!
Ryan Parker: No kidding man. Swing got long and full of these weird timing triggers. Lost your approach. Relax though Condor. I still have faith in you.
Javier Baez (Iowa): With a swing as violent as mine, am I really looking at pitch selection backwards? Meaning most players look for the fast stuff and adjust to the offspeed. But since my bat is so disgustingly fast, do I do the opposite b/c I can still catch up with the inside heat even if I'm looking for a slow curveball low & away?
Ryan Parker: That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.
Or Moyal (Denton, TX): Hey, Ryan! Any thoughts on Leonys Martin? It's always seemed to my amateur eyes like he has great bat speed and much of his contact is hard, but he can't necessarily predict where the pitch will end up. Accurate?
Ryan Parker: Major league pitching is crazy good and Martin won't trim down that hitch and over aggressive coil. There will be moments but consistent production that matches his skills is a stretch for now.
Frankie (Wichita): Doesn't Nick Franklin have the same hip problem as Dominic Smith?
Ryan Parker: The hip drift? Can you snag me a video of Nick because honestly I can't recall.
Brendan (Indy): Question about pitching mechanics then: should a pitcher's stride be in a straight line toward home plate (i.e. angle between the rubber and imaginary line between the pitcher's toes is 90 degrees) or is that not a big deal as long as he repeats it? Specifically, I'm thinking of someone like Jered Weaver who steps toward the 3rd base side and then has to throw back across his body. Is it a personal preference thing?
Ryan Parker: Yes and no... complicated to explain in a chat. I need to use pictures. Shoot me an email. Good question and I have an answer but it's hard to convey here.
Ryan Cordell (Late-Round Prospect Land): Am I a legitimate prospect? I feel overshadowed by my teammate Lewis Brinson (even though he's are at MB now) and Jairo Beras and Condor and Mazara.
Ryan Parker: popular guy in the chat queue today. and honestly I don't know. I've seen you play but I have no notes either praising you or writing you off. I'll make it my homework tonight to check some video and other scouts.
Matt (Chicago): Every time Baez has struggled in his career, he's come roaring back. Do you think this ability to adjust will, long-term, bring his hit tool into even the 55-60 range?
Ryan Parker: nope. 50 hit tops with crazy power. Don't worry. The homers will be awesome enough to live with just an ok average.
MattWinks (Madison): There have been a lot of questions about Maikel Franco's ability to hit, at the same time his bat speed, strength, and hand-eye coordination have been praised. What flaws are present in the swing that give evaluators pause?
Ryan Parker: Lots of vertical head movement. Long hand path. Bad weight transfer pattern, it's almost a lunge. Nothing looks easy or smooth.
Brendan (Indy): Sorry, having trouble finding your e-mail, where is it?
Ryan Parker: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/contact.php?recipient=Ryan+Parker&subject=July+08,+2014+Going+Yard:+Super+Hits+of+the+70s
tom (ny): Do you think trout could become a 40 Hr hitter?
Ryan Parker: Yes... wish I had some deeper mind blowing comments but its simple. He could hit 40 bombs.
RatedRookie (Atlanta): What's your take on Sano's hit tool and hitting mechanics? His TJ rehab has taken him out of view but I imagine lots of ink will be spilled when he's playing this winter.
Ryan Parker: I like the mechanics. Makes better adjustments than he's given credit for. Strength for days. Can hit balls out in multiple types of ways. I can't speak on the hit tool as I haven't seen him in game action and a hit tool grade is more than how the swing looks.
Dave (Boston): It seems to me that hitting ability is somehow underrated. It's the most important tool, correct?
Ryan Parker: It is the most important but its not so much underrated as it is just plain tough to rate. Lots of things have to click for a guy to meet his ceiling.
Adalberto (KC): Has JBJ figured something out by going back to his old batting stance? Do teams generally resist players reverting back to the form they saw fit to change?
Ryan Parker: I'm not sure on JBJ. Teams typically don't like reversion just because think of the time and effort they have dedicated getting the player to the show with what they deem a good stance or swing or whatever. Nobody likes to feel like their time and energy was wasted.
BRANDON (BC): Am I wrong thinking that Soler has just as much power as Baez? Guy's a tank
Ryan Parker: Baez power peers include Gallo, Sano, Bryant. Beyond those guys nobody has power like Baez.
tybradley (SD): how would you coach someone to "move slow"? any drills or it just a mental process?
Ryan Parker: during front toss lob balls very slowly towards the plate. Make sure the hitter isn't just planting the foot and waiting. They will learn to move slow and drive forward otherwise the swing will stall out and they will be forced to just spin on the ball.
Have them try and count to two when hitting off a tee.
getting in the right mindframe always helps.
For my older guys I tell them not to be the jerk that floors it from every stop sign. Build up to top speed.
Kevin (St. Louis ): What do you think about Piscotty's hitting mechanics? He appears to be very still in the box and looks the same in each at bat.
Ryan Parker: Just watched some film. Simple, explosive, good hand speed. Impressed. He will hit in the big leagues.
Ryan C (Eau Claire, WI): My college coach was trying to work with me on slotting my hands and doing what he calls the "seatbelt" (taking your hands as a seatbelt would go across you to the baaebal), but I never see any ML players do this, in fact, they almost all have slight uppercut swings. What do I do?
Ryan Parker: Send me an email. look down in the chat for the link. Situations like these can be tricky. For now try and emulate the big leaguers. I'll help you out buddy. Deal with this kinda stuff all the time.
Robert (California): Considering how much Trout wraps his bat just makes him even more impressive right?
Ryan Parker: I wouldn't call it bat wrap. He gets close but its still a strong position. Regardless everything he does is impressive.
Ryan C (Eau Claire, WI): Just wanna say, thanks man. Not many people are this open to helping guys out.
Ryan Parker: No problem man. Baseball is awesome and its even better when you are good at the game. Gotta share the love!
Ryan Parker: 4 hours later I'm calling it a day. Awesome chat y'all. Great questions! I hope I was able to provide some good info and help some guys out. I can cross host a BP chat off my bucket list so today was a great day. Really enjoyed this and hope y'all did too!