Could really use some advice from this great group. Son was just drafted and is having a tough time getting his bat going. Played in the Cape and has had great success with wood bats. He is discouraged and angry at himself. Do you have any words of wisdom or any great “reads” for us? We appreciate your help!
Kg, what is the "role of a hitter". See the ball!!
watch the Ted Williams PBS story.
Thank you. Our discussion tonight was around simplifying. Sounds like that’s what you’re saying.....see the ball, hit the ball. DVR’d the PBS story and looking forward to watching it. Thank you, again. Let us know if you have other thoughts!
No experience to speak from, but I'd say relax. He got drafted, which is an AMAZING accomplishment. I doubt his pro team expects him to hit .400 and get a September call up. Anger and frustration only leads to prolonged slumps. Relax, enjoy the experience.
Other than that, whenever kids struggle at the plate, I just tell them to hit it hard up the middle. Your swing works naturally when doing so. Once you start trying to pull the ball, or serve it opo, your swing gets out of whack. Best of luck, I'm sure he'll turn it around.
He needs to take a deep breath, gather himself, look around him, and take constructive, positive steps to work out of it. Professional batters fall into slumps all of the time. He's not alone in that regard.
Meanwhile, professional organizations are staffed with many of the best coaches in the world...literally. So seek them out, listen to them, and keep grinding.
You get drafted because the club that drafted you is confident that you have the tools to play among other professional players. If you allow negative, nonconstructive thoughts and behaviors to characterize your reaction to inevitable rough patches, you'll put yourself in a precarious position competing against the many others who don't fall into that trap.
I wouldn't worry too much....it's just a part of the process. Well my son's good friend got drafted.....was assigned to a team.....got his first appearance in the 2nd game in relief with bases loaded.....and promptly saw his first pitch deposited into the LF bullpen for a grand slam. Not sure you can have a worse start than that. He told his dad "dad, it was a perfect pitch, he just hit it....oh, and he's 25 years old".
Slow starts in pro ball are extremely common. Look at many of of the top draft picks, they often have streaks of going 7 for 50 in parts of their Rookie Ball seasons. It is all about adjusting and working through it.
Granted, the higher the draft pick the more benefit of the doubt they get, but there is still plenty of time after just a month or so to prove a player belongs.
Relax, simplify the swing mechanics, shorten up the swing, and jump all over the first fastball you get, especially if it is the first pitch you get.
Often when moving up a level, there is an adjustment to seeing higher velocities and nastier off speed pitches.
Each time a player moves up a level of ball whether it’s small field to big field or college to minors he needs talent and mental toughness. Talent is enough of an issue as the funnel narrows. Don’t get beat by mental toughness.
Your feedback has been priceless to us! Thank you for taking the time to respond! I will keep you posted on his progress. Thank you, again. Gratefully, KG
Charlie Silvera the Yankee/Tigers catcher, when he was "warming up" the starting pitcher in the Detroit Tigers bullpen could feel Ted Williams "eyes" 300' away watching for the release point of the starting pitcher's fastball, the curve and change up.
Watching for control of the pitch's. Ted would "take away" the fastball, the curve or change up when he hit until the Pitcher proved he had "control".
Be a student of the game, observe ask questions.
The jump from college to proball is, if anything, steeper than the jump from HS to college. Add in other unique factors and suddenly the game gets hard, really hard.
A player gets to college baseball by capitalizing on his strengths and papering over his weaknesses. A position player earns college playing time primarily with his bat (everyone who hits will play). So, one will frequently see (e.g.) a rightfielder who can hardly throw to second base, but is rolled out to play every game because he rips. While ripping is still king in proball, there is only one DH per game and a player cannot paper over or hide skill weakness. For example, a college catcher may only face stolen base threats from 3 guys per college line up; at the pro level, it will be 5 - 6 guys AND each is faster then a college stealer. The pro game is, quite simply, faster, harder and unforgiving (all a college guy needs to be is better then a recruited walkon; a proplayer needs to be better then the latin pipeline, draftees, and an unlimited number of players the club can sign).
The first unique thing a player heading to camp after the draft sees are Latin players. About a third of each roster is made up of players who have been playing professionally since they were 16. That means 360 days a year for 4 - 5 years; playing with wood, competing just to get to US camp. Only the best of the Latin best get to US camp - and they are good, boisterous, and already understand the pro grind. These players are hungry, incredibly hungry.
The second thing they notice is the sheer number of hours devoted each day - seven days a week, 30 days a month - to the game. While a league like the Cape beings together the cream of US college players, there are 5 games a week, the season is 10 weeks long, most games are show and go, there are days off, limited travel, etc. The only real similarity to proball and the Cape are wood bats.
Third is the lack of $$$ - to eat, drink and be merry. Seven games a week, most being at night which means the player "caffeine ups" for a 7:30 game and "beers down" at midnight - seven days a week. A totally different regime is proball.
Fourth is the lack of any support system. No real friends (your friends are actually trying to get you fired), no ability to decompress after a bad outing (each player constantly ruminates over his current status), no girl friend to sooth you, constant barrages of club stats proving you need lots of work and questioning how you even got to proball, sleeping weekly in strange, extremely low end motels, eating (on the road) crap food (the power conferences make sure their players have good nutrition; you're on your own in proball).
Fifth, the pressure is different. Until a player adjusts to proball rhythm, he is "paranoid" more than college. And, btw, he's right. So, a routine slump builds - especially if the player has never slumped before.
Sixth, the pro players are better. A college player can hit 300 by teeing off on mid-week pitching, or college relievers, or seeing a good pitcher for the third time. In SS or even low A, a hitter will not see a pitcher for that third time - pitchers go maybe 5 - 6 innings because they are pitch count limited by the club. And the relievers who then enter were most likely SPs in college - so no free lunches - ever.
Seventh - and this is after the first pro year - is the amount of effort needed to advance - and the effort MUST being results. So, that weak throwing outfielder had better improve his arm strength rapidly in the off season (while continuing to improve his hitting skills). That takes time and money - way more time then even the top college programs and way more money.
Finally eighth, it may only be a routine slump.
I could go on and on; but the point is past results don't guarantee future returns. Proball is hard, really, really hard.
Goosegg says it all. Keep in mind that every player will go through a slump. During this time some players will begin to doubt their tools or approach, things that got them there in the first place. Continue making solid contact and those balls will start to fall once again. It is a long, grueling season of ball and there will be more opportunities to get on track. My son during his first year of minors went through 2 slumps over 4 levels. Both times I never brought it up when speaking with him, he knows what is happening. Many times we didn't even talk about baseball. I was a nervous wreck each time he stepped to the plate, but kept it inside. He will figure it out without undue pressure from the gallery. Now I look at it as a test how long it will take him to figure it out. You as a parent have done all you can teaching him the game. By now he most likely knows way more than you anyways. Enjoy these exciting times for him, he is learning how to be a man, a professional baseball player. Trust in the process.
What an awesome post, Goosegg! Thanks for putting that together.
I have goose bumps reading all of your comments and advice.....seriously! I honestly can’t thank you all enough for shedding light on this process. My son is remaining confident and is saying he is just going to keep working. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart!
OP, what happened?
Happy fall y’all! Here is an update on my son. After a slow start in SS low A (.067 in June), he rebounded and trended up, batting .208 in July, .326 in August, and .333 in September, finishing the season at .265. The coaches played him all across the infield (except 1B) and he was able to display his defensive talents. They said he ended the season they way they wanted, “strong”. He learned so much this summer, from how to grow and contribute while sitting on the bench, to how to overcome individual hurdles. In this off season, he has heeded the advice of his coaches to shut down for a month, and is now into his off season training. Your advice throughout the summer was invaluable and we are forever grateful. Thank you! KG
Sounds great! I would bet that the off field experience was almost as much of a challenge as the on field.
I would think that it would be worth a MLB team's while to make a nutrition/meal plan available for all of it's teams. I'm probably dreaming here...