Sunday, May 21, 2006

Guess Hitting

We had some extra time in the dug out to talk hitting philosophy with several kids in our south Florida private workout. The kids at this workout weren't top 10 round material. They mainly were in the 10-30th round realm. Or at least so I thought. The way the cross-checkers and DeSear were talking afterwards, a few might actually slip into the top 10 rounds. That blew me away since Carson and I had already targeted our south Florida kids that should go in the top 10 rounds. But then again, we don't have much of a feel of what's happening in other parts of the country.

Anyhow, out of 10 position players at the workout, I would say eight were what I call, "guess hitters." In other words, these players sit back looking for a good pitch to hit. They've been coached to look for, "their pitch." To understand this approach more fully, it might be helpful to paraphrase one of the players-- I pick up the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand, see it, decide if it's a good pitch, and then decide whether to swing or not. There are at least 3 decisions involved before contact.

The other two adopted a more concise approach. They are swinging unless they see a pitch they don't like or are basically told to take the pitch. These batters make an assumption when they step to the plate that the ball is going to come right down the middle. They know it's coming right down the middle. They're not looking for it to come right down the middle, they know it. Big difference. If a pitcher has a great fastball, you simply can't afford wait to see the ball to get started. You need to anticipate where the ball is going to be and approach that area. You can stop if it isn't close to where you anticipate.

Now I'm not saying one approach is better than the other. Johnny Bench was a terrific guess hitter. However, I truly believe that a prospect who has average hitting tools and bat speed can project into a fine prospect as long as he adopts the later approach.

Of course, there is no substitute for bat speed regardless of approach. I believe it was Whitey Herzog that once said, "Speed never slumps." But in the later rounds of the draft, you often don't get that luxury.

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