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2018 Prospects Breakdown

By June 18, 2018Ignite Articles

In the spirit of the beginning of the MLB season, I took a look at the swings of the top MLB prospects and analyzed their swings.

 

Here’s a few predictions, assuming  that none of the prospects I looked at make a significant swing change.

 

Greatest upside as a hitter: Bo Bichette, Bo absolutely rakes. His swing pattern is amazing, his approach is incredible, he routinely has 8+ pitch at bats resulting in him hitting a double off the wall. It might be the swing nerd in me, but his swing is a thing of beauty.

 

Biggest Potential Bust: Gleyber Torres, I’m sad to say it but if Torres doesn’t lean back more in his turn, I don’t think he can be a good MLB Hitter. His forward lean will cause him to hit his hardest balls ball too low. Can he fix this? Yes absolutely, and for the sake of my Yankees I hope he does.  (Clearly I was incorrect in this prediction, Torres has been a monster. I’m glad he’s no longer leaning so far forward!) 

 

Most Future All Star Game Appearances: Shohei Ohtani, since the All Star Game is by popular vote I think the spectacle of Ohtani pitching and hitting will cause him to receive lots of votes every year. Will he have to put up numbers? Sure, but his production will be graded in a more lax way.

 

1) Shohei Ohtani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swing Grades
Category MLB Swings Japanese Professional Swings
Power A A+
Movement Pattern Efficiency B A
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch C+ A
Command of Load A A-

 

Ohtani had great rotational movements as a Japanese Professional player those movements haven’t been as efficient in his first few games in the MLB. That said, I expect his movements to trend back to what they were in Japan as he gains more and more confidence.  

 

Both in his MLB Swings and in his JPL swings he doesn’t tilt his shoulders enough on low pitches and goes with his hands independently. I expect this to be a hole for him as scouting reports come out on him. He will likely hit low balls hard but not with enough launch angle to do real damage. Unless he changes The way he tilts his shoulders on low pitches he could watch his teammate Mike Trout as he’s the best low ball shoulder tilter in the game.

Ohtani, like Harper, seems to have incredible control of his back hip and can still get in to the same (slide your hips forward) pattern no matter how he decides to step, this can be really important when pitchers begin varying their delivery you need to be able to swing using variable front leg movements for this reason I think Ohtani has a chance to be special. Take Harper, he’s never tilted his shoulders well on low pitches, and he still crushes and that’s because he has such amazing control of his back hip. So although more shoulder tilt would be an adjustment I’d recommend it’s an adjustment that he might not need. Struggle leads to adaptation so if Ohtani doesn’t struggle than he won’t change, and why would he?  

 

2) Ronald Acuna Jr:

What can I really say about Acuna, he’s an absolute beast, he has incredible control of his load, he turns the barrel effortlessly and he’s a super plus athlete. I would be shocked if was not a star on the major league level. The only thing that’s holding him back is his size. But it may not matter at all it certainly didn’t matter to Jose Altuve and he’s significantly bigger.

Swing Grades

Power

A
Movement Pattern Efficiency A+
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A
Command of load

A

3) Vladimir Guerrero Jr

 

Swing Grades
Power A+
Movement Pattern Efficiency A
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A
Command of load A

Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s swing grades out really high. There isn’t much more to say. Enjoy watching him it’s going to be special. Some might say he has a lot of moving parts but as I detailed in the video every moving part has a purpose and it helps him in timing the delivery and arrival of the ball to home plate.

4) Eloy Jimenez

 

 

Swing Grades
Power A
Movement Pattern Efficiency A
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A-
Command of load A

Eloy Jimenez is going to be a MONSTER! It’s rare that we see someone this tall move this well. As I mentioned in the video my only concern is his ability to adjust to the offspeed pitch. At this point I have no reason to think he can’t adjust, I just didn’t find any videos where I witnessed it. The White Sox have good one in Jimenez.  

 

5) Gleyber Torres

(Obviously I was wrong with this prediction. That said, the reason for the prediction was that Torres was excessively leaning forward in every video I could find. Leaning forward is a mistake in the swing, a mistake Gleybar is no longer making.)

Swing Grades
Power B
Movement Pattern Efficiency C+
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch C
Command of load A+

I’m legitimately worried about Torres. His spine angle in his swing is really bad on most swings I’ve looked at. This leads to a downward swing plane, a really small contact window and many glancing blows. If Torres doesn’t change his spine angle he’ll hit his hardest balls between the launch angles  -5 and 5 degrees. This is not a recipe for success in MLB.

If you need more launch angle validation read this Washington Post Article https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/sports/mlb-launch-angles-story/?utm_term=.da5b49b1fce6

6) Victor Robles

 

 

Swing Grades
Power B
Movement Pattern Efficiency A-
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A-
Command of load A

I really like Robles’ swing pattern he reminds me a lot of Mookie Betts. I’m not sure how well he’ll project. His offensive numbers are really good but not amazing in his small sample set in the big leagues he’s done ok, probably a little below what he wanted to do. That said, his movement pattern is really good and shouldn’t be the thing that holds him back.

7) Nick Senzel

Swing Grades
Power A
Movement Pattern Efficiency B-
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A-
Command of load

A

Nick Senzel rakes, his stat lines are awesome he’s mashed at every level he’s played at. That said, I won’t say I love his swing because I don’t. I look at every swing and think, “Should a small sized 11 year old boy or girl use this movement pattern?” I have to, that’s my job. I need to know the Pros and Cons of every single conceivable loading sequence and how that matches up with strength, body awareness and age of that hitter.

Let me be clear he can and probably will be a successful MLB hitter with this pattern Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best hitters in baseball and they have a very similar sequence. Senzel’s start to his swing is very connected (meaning the body “grabs the barrel”), a must for every great hitter, but after the start his rotation stops pretty quickly. Which can work and does work but the range of motion of the turn is really important small players so they don’t have to decelerate the bat quickly. Your ability to decelerate the bat needs to come before you learn to accelerate the bat and by expanding the the range of motion of the turn it makes the deceleration phase easier to accomplish regardless of how fast you accelerate the bat. So my opposition the Nick Senzel’s movement pattern is that for a smaller athlete to hit that ball over the fence (or over the infield) in most cases athletes have to move more to accomplish that feat.  Is hitting home runs 100 percent necessary? No, but displaying power will certainly help you play at the highest level your body will allow.

8) Fernando Tatis Jr

 

Swing Grades
Power A
Movement Pattern Efficiency B
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch C-
Command of load A+

Fernando Tatis Jr. one of the best loading sequences that I’ve seen period, and because of that his ability to time the beginning of his turn is remarkable. That said, he reaches towards the ball with is hands a lot, and doesn’t turn the barrel very well. This decreases the time at which you bat is in the way of the pitch which is pretty concerning at the MLB level. That said, his loading pattern is so good it may not matter.  

11) Francisco Mejia

Swing Grades
Power A-
Movement Pattern Efficiency B+
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A
Command of load A

 

Francisco Mejia is a switch hitting catcher in the Cleveland Indians organization. For someone who is 5,10 180 pounds this guy is pretty powerful. His right handed swing reminds me of Gary Sanchez, and his Left handed swing resembles Stanton with a more upward attack angle. For Mejia the question really becomes can he hit better than Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez in the Major Leagues? My guess would be yes based on the movement patterns he displays from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Indians have a good one on their hands.

13) Bo Bichette

 

Swing Grades
Power A+
Movement Pattern Efficiency A+
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A+
Command of load A+

As you can see by my grades I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a more advanced movement pattern than Bo Bichette. Every single thing he does either generates power, allows him to have better timing or increases barrel accuracy. Thes isn’t much more to say he’s dominated every level of professional baseball he’s played and I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t a household name one day. His dad Dante Bichette was a really good major leaguer but his movement pattern wasn’t nearly this good.

14) Brendan Rodgers

 

 

Swing Grades
Power A-
Movement Pattern Efficiency A-
Time to the path/time in the way of the pitch A
Command of load A+

 

Of the group, both Rodgers and Nick Senzel have the simplest movement patterns, but I am a much bigger fan of the way that Rodgers moves because he becomes very rotational, and his turn has a big range of motion. His pattern almost reminds me of Derek Jeter. Like Jeter, his ability to fight off tough pitches with 2 strikes is remarkable. Many times in the at bats that I watched, he would foul off a 2 strike pitch with an emergency swing (or even 2 or 3) and hit a double or home run right after. The skill of fighting off pitches with 2 strikes is still really valuable and always will be. The Ignite Baseball crystal ball predicts good things for Rodgers.

 

Conclusion: The 2018 Top Prospects should have a very bright future. It’s awesome to watch how the top hitting prospects in today’s game move. Most of them have loud/athletic loading sequences and aggressive turns of their torso. The MLB’s best hitters have always been very rotational. But because of misguided group-think on what the swing should be a lot of the player that ended up being great MLB players weren’t on top of everyone’s Prospect Board. Data in baseball has changed all that, and it’s great to see the way people think about the swing changing on such a large scale.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Kurt Hewes – Director of Hitting and Founder of Ignite Baseball

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