Top Left-Handed Swings

In the New York Mets organization, much of the power and projectable contact skills lie on the left side of the plate. There are power hitters, hitters for average and a mix of both. The thread that links them all is a well-developed swing. Here is a look at what makes all these left-handers such capable hitters.

Fernando Martinez -- When timed right, Fernando's swing is a sight to see. He has excellent plate coverage and his ability to keep his hands back and head stable allows him to drive the ball with authority to all fields. Staying closed as well as he does, combined with the strength in his hands and wrists, lets him make solid contact even when he is caught out in front.

Early in the 2008 season his upper and lower half were not in sync, but getting the solid base back in his legs was a key factor in his late season surge. He generates a lot of torque in his hips which leads to a strong, clean finish and lots of power.

Lucas Duda -- Duda's biggest challenge has always been owning the inner half, especially against left-handed pitching. The first baseman's size and long arms give him excellent plate coverage away and he does a very good job of keeping the bat level through the strike zone. He has better contact skills than his .263 average in 2008 dictates, but the next big step for Duda is showing that he can shorten up, keep his hands in and make better contact on the inner third. He already boasts good home run and extra base power, yet would still benefit from a little more loft in his swing.

Josh Thole -- The backstop's stock jumped last season because of his improving abilities with the bat. Patience has always been one of Thole's best attributes, but the added power and development of his opposite field stroke make him a much more complete prospect. He developed more loft on the ball which turned singles into doubles and allowed him to hit a career high in home runs. He knows how to shorten up, take what the pitcher gives him and make contact – all keys to success for a prospect who showed minimal production prior to 2008.

Jordan Abruzzo -- Switch-hitting catchers are a rare commodity but the organization has one that knows how to hit, especially from the left side. The big backstop fully covers the plate and can handle pitches in almost every quadrant with the drive in his legs and the speed in his hips to generate power. He can stay up the middle on the pitches away with the bat control to stay back on the ball. He at times gets beat on the inner third but his balance, base and strong hands should allow him to keep hitting and producing at the higher levels.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis -- One has to become more impressed the more they watch Nieuwenhuis handle the bat. He appears to have closed up the hole down and in that plagued him during his rookie season which will further maximize his contact ability. His excellent bat control allows him to spray the ball to all fields and his ability to shift his weight allows him to ratchet up his hands and generate power. He gets a lot of drive from his hips with an ideal finish that lets him exit the box quickly.

Ike Davis -- No one's swing looked as off as Davis' during his rookie season. He was using nothing but hands, his hips were dragging and he got very little finish with his legs. All that he worked on during the off-season seems to have paid off as his swing looked entirely different in camp. Everything he lacked with Brooklyn was present in camp as Davis kept his hands back, stabilized his leg kick and demonstrated a much better finish.

His natural opposite field strong re-emerged and he is now making the solid contact he lacked last summer. As previously mentioned, it may take a little more time for the home run power to fully arrive, but Davis' swing now looks ready to produce a better average and overall contact.

Sean Ratliff -- As he explained and was reported in his scouting report, Ratliff completed a total reconstruction of his swing during his time in Brooklyn. He eliminated the complete drop and drive element to his swing and now has much better balance, keeps his hands back longer and a smoother finish through the zone all while maintaining his very good power. He is still a higher percentage pull hitter, but the improved execution should help him develop a greater feel for using the whole field.

Reese Havens -- Others on this list have more power than Havens but he possesses arguably the most flawless swing in the entire system. His weight transfer, bat control, timing through the zone and use of his hands are an excellent model for any left-handed contact hitter. He can slice through the zone to hit fastballs and pitches on the inner half, and knows how to shift his weight to stay back and drive breaking pitches. The flaws in Havens' swing are miniscule and one would really need to seek them out to exploit them.

HONORABLE MENTION

Greg Veloz -- Veloz too is a switch-hitter who brings a better stroke from the left side. Strikeouts are still an issue but he has a compact, up-the-middle stroke that strengthened his on-base skills in a big way in 2008. Veloz is more than a slasher as his balance and finish give him some added power.

Raul Reyes -- Reyes, like Flagg, has a fairly long swing and legit home run power, yet he made steps during his last extended playing time to shorten up and decrease the amount he pulled the ball. He has the big power stroke but needs to do a better job of staying behind the ball and using the middle of the field.

D.J. Wabick -- The 24-year-old outfielder continues to move up the ranks simply because he knows how to hit his way on base. He offers complimentary power but has good balance and with a smooth swing he can hit to all fields. He does a good job of rotating his hands through the strike zone and makes consistent contact. His clean mechanics and strong vision make him a regular producer that should hang on as long as his track record continues.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nFernando Martinez -- When timed right, Fernando's swing is a sight to see. He has excellent plate coverage and his ability to keep his hands back and head stable allows him to drive the ball with authority to all fields. Staying closed as well as he does, combined with the strength in his hands and wrists, lets him make solid contact even when he is caught out in front.
\r\n
\r\nEarly in the 2008 season his upper and lower half were not in sync, but getting the solid base back in his legs was a key factor in his late season surge. He generates a lot of torque in his hips which leads to a strong, clean finish and lots of power.
\r\n
\r\nLucas Duda -- Duda's biggest challenge has always been owning the inner half, especially against left-handed pitching. The first baseman's size and long arms give him excellent plate coverage away and he does a very good job of keeping the bat level through the strike zone. He has better contact skills than his .263 average in 2008 dictates, but the next big step for Duda is showing that he can shorten up, keep his hands in and make better contact on the inner third. He already boasts good home run and extra base power, yet would still benefit from a little more loft in his swing.
\r\n
\r\nJosh Thole -- The backstop's stock jumped last season because of his improving abilities with the bat. Patience has always been one of Thole's best attributes, but the added power and development of his opposite field stroke make him a much more complete prospect. He developed more loft on the ball which turned singles into doubles and allowed him to hit a career high in home runs. He knows how to shorten up, take what the pitcher gives him and make contact – all keys to success for a prospect who showed minimal production prior to 2008.
\r\n
\r\nJordan Abruzzo -- Switch-hitting catchers are a rare commodity but the organization has one that knows how to hit, especially from the left side. The big backstop fully covers the plate and can handle pitches in almost every quadrant with the drive in his legs and the speed in his hips to generate power. He can stay up the middle on the pitches away with the bat control to stay back on the ball. He at times gets beat on the inner third but his balance, base and strong hands should allow him to keep hitting and producing at the higher levels.
\r\n
\r\nKirk Nieuwenhuis -- One has to become more impressed the more they watch Nieuwenhuis handle the bat. He appears to have closed up the hole down and in that plagued him during his rookie season which will further maximize his contact ability. His excellent bat control allows him to spray the ball to all fields and his ability to shift his weight allows him to ratchet up his hands and generate power. He gets a lot of drive from his hips with an ideal finish that lets him exit the box quickly.
\r\n
\r\nIke Davis -- No one's swing looked as off as Davis' during his rookie season. He was using nothing but hands, his hips were dragging and he got very little finish with his legs. All that he worked on during the off-season seems to have paid off as his swing looked entirely different in camp. Everything he lacked with Brooklyn was present in camp as Davis kept his hands back, stabilized his leg kick and demonstrated a much better finish.
\r\n
\r\nHis natural opposite field strong re-emerged and he is now making the solid contact he lacked last summer. As previously mentioned, it may take a little more time for the home run power to fully arrive, but Davis' swing now looks ready to produce a better average and overall contact.
\r\n
\r\nSean Ratliff -- As he explained and was reported in his scouting report, Ratliff completed a total reconstruction of his swing during his time in Brooklyn. He eliminated the complete drop and drive element to his swing and now has much better balance, keeps his hands back longer and a smoother finish through the zone all while maintaining his very good power. He is still a higher percentage pull hitter, but the improved execution should help him develop a greater feel for using the whole field.
\r\n
\r\nReese Havens -- Others on this list have more power than Havens but he possesses arguably the most flawless swing in the entire system. His weight transfer, bat control, timing through the zone and use of his hands are an excellent model for any left-handed contact hitter. He can slice through the zone to hit fastballs and pitches on the inner half, and knows how to shift his weight to stay back and drive breaking pitches. The flaws in Havens' swing are miniscule and one would really need to seek them out to exploit them.
\r\n
\r\nHONORABLE MENTION
\r\n
\r\nGreg Veloz -- Veloz too is a switch-hitter who brings a better stroke from the left side. Strikeouts are still an issue but he has a compact, up-the-middle stroke that strengthened his on-base skills in a big way in 2008. Veloz is more than a slasher as his balance and finish give him some added power.
\r\n
\r\nRaul Reyes -- Reyes, like Flagg, has a fairly long swing and legit home run power, yet he made steps during his last extended playing time to shorten up and decrease the amount he pulled the ball. He has the big power stroke but needs to do a better job of staying behind the ball and using the middle of the field.
\r\n
\r\nD.J. Wabick -- The 24-year-old outfielder continues to move up the ranks simply because he knows how to hit his way on base. He offers complimentary power but has good balance and with a smooth swing he can hit to all fields. He does a good job of rotating his hands through the strike zone and makes consistent contact. His clean mechanics and strong vision make him a regular producer that should hang on as long as his track record continues.
\r\n
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