Elias Diaz, Pirates
Diaz has a muscled frame and I like how his lower body works in the first portion of his swing. He creates good hip coil and balance in his swing, his his head drifts forward after foot plant and his hands follow suit, pushing at the ball instead of turning behind back his shoulder. This cuts off his depth and gives him a smaller window for contact. Diaz is a line-drive hitter and he would get better results if he let his hips move forward early instead of taking his head towards the pitcher late.
Gary Sanchez, Yankees
Sanchez’s swing gets to all the right positions, but there is an obvious gear change midswing where he goes from zero to 100 extremely quickly. This means if his timing isn’t perfect he’s either going to have to rush for fastballs or lunge for breaking stuff. Even though the moves are exaggerated he doesn’t have a lot of rhythm in his swing. If he could blend his stride into his swing rather than pausing it, that would be awesome. Sanchez’s potential is apparent because even with his issues of rhythm, when his swing is locked in it looks like a version of Hanley Ramirez, one of my favorite swings out there.
Ozhaino Albies, Braves
Albies has some issues from both sides of the plate, but the foundation is there for something solid. From the left side he is a bit deliberate in how he loads his hands and drifts his hips, but I like where these movements are headed. He tilts the bat well and coils his hips correctly but just hasn’t refined them yet. Switch hitters take longer and this might be a case where at-bats in game conditions are just what he needs. Be patient Braves fans. I like the foundation here.
From the right side it’s a similar story. Instead of drifting forward with his hips, he moves them too far back to launch his swing. He ends up stuck over his back foot at times. He tips the bat well from this side too, but doesn’t quite have a feel for when to “un-tip” the bat and let it launch. Again, the blueprint is very solid, and plenty of reps are exactly what he needs.
Orlando Arcia, Brewers
Arcia employs an athletic swing, but his hands get in a bad place to launch. His hands get too far above his back elbow at the end of his stride, meaning his first move is down to the ball rather than getting on plane. He’s so close to having a great pattern up top. He doesn’t need to get rid of that vertical hand movement, he just needs to find a way to better align it a la J.D. Martinez. His lower body actions are very good, from his hip coil to firing his back knee. Once he launches, his swing is loose and athletic with good actions but his pace can get reckless. Swinging hard is great but not at the expense of losing one’s foundation.
Cheslor Cuthbert, Royals
Cuthbert shows good actions but loses timing in his swing due to big upper body movements, paired with lower half moves that are small and contained. This is unique as most hitters who have big upper body movements match it with a big lower body move. Think of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki: Donaldson has a big lift while Tulo sports double tap. Both move their upper bodies a ton during the swing but are synced up with an equally big lower body move. This difference in rhythm creates difficulty in getting the two halves to work together because the upper half takes control and his hands can get out in front rather than being the last thing to work forward.
Rafael Devers, Red Sox
Devers has a big time bat tip but keeps it in sequence for the most part. He gets in trouble when his hands work forward too early. Devers has a solid lower half and the ball has a different sound off his bat. He makes plenty of hard contact even with a “loud” swing. His movements are stylistically similar to Javier Baez, but are mechanically better. Devers tips the bat over the plate (away from his body) and then turns it rather than out over his head towards the pitcher and has shown the ability to control that move very well. His swing builds intensity as it progresses, and that pace helps him control a swing that would throw off some hitters’ balance. Overall, Devers has one of the better swings in the game, with big actions but a smooth pace.
Max Kepler, Twins
Kepler’s lower half is very close to a great pattern. He has a smooth leg lift but could stand to get a bit more forward, rather than just lifting his knee straight up and down. We’re not talking about a huge forward move but just enough to prevent him from spinning in place. His swing has an Andre Ethier feel to it because hishands start deep but appear to pause as he goes through his stride. This means he has to restart his hands mid-swing and creates an unnecessary roadblock. If he can find a way to get his hands to flow with his lower body, things will get loud.
Ketel Marte, Mariners
With decent actions in his swing but hands that start from such an elevated position it’s difficult for Marte to achieve an ideal bat plane. The best hitters in the game are able to fire their lower body a tick before their upper half, but Marte doesn’t yet show this pattern, rather, everything in his swing fires at once. He relies heavily on precise timing and has a lot of upper body effort in his swing. He has some serious strength and bat speed but they’re not being put to their best use as currently constructed.
Raul Adalberto Mondesi, Royals
It always takes longer for switch-hitting guys to click, and Mondesi is getting close. He has very smooth actions from both sides, though his upper body is better than his lower half. His hands are quick and he uses them in sequence, while his lower body is more of a placeholder than a driver of the swing. He Mondesi’s swing is constantly showing growth and it wouldn’t surprise me to see an increase in power as he finally puts his swing together.
Renato Nunez, Athletics
Nunez doesn’t have huge actions but still gets to the right spots in his swing. His swing can get a bit rigid, and he works best when he keeps rhythm and allows the bat to bounce and flow behind him rather than stop and start. His bat path is really nice when he’s locked in, as his hands get on plane nicely. His plane is conducive for both extra base hits and singles. When he gets into that back leg it can get loud, but nothing leaks open and he doesn’t bleed power. His lower body fires well, and overall it is a very sound swing.
Socrates Brito, Diamondbacks
[Ryan was not able to find recent footage of Brito that allowed him to break down his swing, and thus there isn’t a breakdown. –ed.]
Nomar Mazara, Rangers
Mazara’s swing is always getting better. He has always tinkered with how he moves his lower half but it appears he’s finally found a pattern that suits him. He used a toe tap to start the year, but now employs a standard leg lift. He gets his bat into great position, and his lower half works especially well. Watch how his hips and back knee counter rotate as he goes forward; the lower half reminds me of Carlos Correa and it gives him that little bit extra when he finally launches bat. Mazara creates great angles with his upper half as he approaches the ball and he is the top hitting prospect in minors for me.
Manuel Margot, Red Sox
Margot has a great swing and natural bat-to-ball skills. He features an aggressive lower body with a bat wiggle up top, pre-launch. Some call this noise, I call it it flow. Margot is just itching to do damage. He creates good angles and shows an ability to make small adjustments as ball is in flight.Margot and Raimel Tapia might have the best bat-to-ball skills in this game, but they go about showing it off in very different patterns.
Raimel Tapia, Rockies
Tapia’s incredible hand eye coordination makes his swing great, but wreaks havoc on his approach. He thinks he can hit everything, causing him to expand the zone far too often. Tapia employs a wide stance, but keeps flow and balance throughout. He has sneaky power in his swing and if he adds weight to his lean frame, and can learn to refine his approach even a bit… look out.
Yorman Rodriguez, Reds
Rodriguez’s swing is defined by good actions but poor rhythm. His upper body stalls at the mid-point of his stride. At the top of his leg lift, he provides a convenient photo op for the camera crew, but it’s an inefficient pattern for, y’know, hitting. His hands get a bit out front but he uses his body well overall. Rodriguez has the hard parts down and hits most of the right mechanical checkpoints, but a little bit of rhythm would go a long way into making him a true offensive threat.