Pro Athlete 360 sits down with Pro Baseball player Chris Swauger, who goes over technique, strategy, and preparation for becoming a powerful and consistant hitter. Chris was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 26th Round. Chris will share his knowledge and advice with how he handles different types of pitchers, how he overcomes hitting slumps, and the right way to practice in order to develop an amazing swing.
Baseball Video Transcription: That’s the thing, it's really important to put yourself in a good position to hit before the ball is thrown because if you're in a good position and you get a good pitch, you're going to be fine. You can‘t be thinking mechanically when you step in a box. You can think mechanically when you step into the cage when you're working before and trying to get your mechanics down, you can even think on deck before you go up to the plate about your mechanics, but once you get into the box you have to keep it simple. The most basic of approaches that I can tell any kid is get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. See you’re completely taking out all this other stuff, now you can expand upon it from there as far as trying to get a good pitch to hit, “I'm looking in this particular zone, for this particular pitch,” but the basic foundation of it is get a good pitch to hit. And then when you say put a good swing on it, that's where all your mechanical work and everything comes into play and if you can think like that and you can keep it simple it's so much easier as far as a spot or any specific place.
I like to take pitches because I like to be able to know how hard a guy is throwing, what does his curveball look like, I used to be a really aggressive hitter and just jump on the 1st pitch that came into the zone but I've learned as I've gotten older that it's okay to take a few pitches early in the game or early in an at bat because the guy’s going to show you what he's doing. Pitchers are creatures of habit, if you watch the game and you watch what they do to other hitters who are similar to you and you watch how they are getting them out or how they're getting beat by him, he'll tell you what he's going to do. If he's throwing fastballs away and he's getting lefties out, and I'm left-handed, and he's been getting lefties out consistently why would he change it? So I can go up there with an approach that at some point in this at-bat I'm probably going to get a fastball away. So what you can start doing is eliminating pitches, you stop trying to cover such a big area of the plate because the plate is 17 inches long and depending on how big of a zone the guy behind the plate is, sometimes it's bigger and these guys have 4 and 5 pitches that they can put in different spots, you can’t hit all of them, there's no chance, there's no shot, so you have to start eliminating and you do that by looking in areas and looking for certain pitches and they can change from pitch to pitch but that's why you step out.
You gather yourself, you think about what just happened and you think about what you're going to do. You step in and you go back to your approach of getting good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. You can think and do all this stuff before you step in the box but the pitches and the game is happening too fast for you to be thinking, boom, now the ball is by you. So you think all the way up until you get up there and then it becomes a natural reaction with your muscle memory and everything that you've gotten with your preliminary plan before you stepped in. Like I said it changes from pitch to pitch most of the time, the best hitters can make adjustments pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat. As far as anything I look for, I don't look for any one thing, I do look in an area where I think that the ball is going to be coming out of, but by taking a couple pitches and seeing how he throws, some guys when they throw their fastball, they really try to get on top of it and try to generate some downward plane or some guys will try to get on the side of it and make the ball run and then when they throw their curveball they come back up here.
So if I can see how he is out here when he's throwing his fastball and he's right here when he's throwing his curveball I can tell what kind of pitch it is because of where his arms sits. That's not to say that if I know the pitch coming I'm going to swing at that pitch. But if I'm up there and I'm looking for a fastball away but I see his arm appear for a curveball well I know it's coming but I can't just go through and immediately change my approach that quickly because it's usually not going to happen. But if I'm looking for a fastball and I see his arm slide out here, I'm already ahead of the game because I know it's coming. If I can give one piece of advice other than keep it simple and get a good pitch to hit, it's pay attention to the game, watch the game because like I said the pitcher will tell you what he's going to do, he's going to do the same thing to you what he does to hitter who is similar to you and if you got you out one way, he's probably going to do the same thing again so for those 3 1/2 hours that you're in that game be in that game, don't sit there and talk to your buddies about which chicks are in stands or what you're going to do after the game because you have all the time in the world to do that outside of the white line but when you're there if you want to be a successful player and do well, pay attention because you will give yourself such a competitive advantage if you pay attention to what's going on in the game. It's a failing game, the more you can gain a competitive advantage the more room for error you can give yourself, so if you can pick up a little tendency or see what he's doing to some other player or see how this guy approached him, ask questions. I am not ashamed as soon as my teammate comes in, if he just hit a home run to say “hey man congratulations, what pitch was it? What did it do?” And your teammates will share with you because they want to see you be successful because if you're successful, then the team is successful.
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