Eugene Emeralds Notebook: Shifting plans

EUGENE, OR-- Many of the hitters coming into professional baseball need to get rid of their aluminum bat swings. Dean Anna is no different. A San Diego Padres draft pick is slated to arrive in Eugene on Wednesday. Sliding has never been more important, and self-teaching can mean the difference between a slumpbuster and a steady decline.

  • Dean Anna came to the Eugene Emeralds with a aluminum bat swing. He isn't alone in that – as many players coming from the college ranks have gone through changes since arriving in the Northwest League.

    The infielder has put considerable work into his swing and is beginning to see the rewards. Hitting coach Eric Peyton can see it as well.

    "We have worked with him on not stopping his momentum when he lands his front foot and strides towards the ball," Peyton said. "It is to his credit that he has worked hard and listened to our teaching."

    Previously, Anna has put the foot down, waited a second and then gone into his load and turned on the ball. That second of hesitation has sapped some of his power and ability to put good wood on the ball.

    Now, he is landing his foot and transferring his balance more fluidly, giving him good rhythm and a better sense of timing.

    "There was kind of like three parts to my swing," Anna admitted. "It was kind of good that I could hit the ball because not a lot of people could do that – I am starting to fix it and have one movement."

    He even admits there is still a ways to go but is feeling more and more comfortable with the changes each day.

  • Twelfth-round pick Matt Clark is expected to arrive in Eugene on Wednesday. At that time, he will go through a physical and the same medical process that Beamer Weems recently went through before he is declared fit to play.

    Clark will bring a legitimate power prospect to the lineup. Last year with the Tigers, he hit 28 homers with 64 RBIs and a .344 average across 64 games, drawing 40 walks while fanning 61 times.

    A former 27th-round pick by the Pirates in 2007, Clark transferred to LSU after he batted .350 with 15 homers, 70 RBI and a .620 slugging percentage during Riverside's drive to the 2007 California JUCO state title.

  • On Monday night, Sawyer Carroll also slid head-first into home for the eventual winning run.

    Having lost Logan Forsythe for the year after he slid head first into first base and got his thumb caught on the bag, roving infield instructor Gary Jones cautioned all of the players against sliding head first.

    If they do – he wants to see hands up in the air so they don't get caught on the bag or on a spike. His preference is to see them sliding into the bag feet first.

    "We want to see legs first but if you are going to slide head-first, make sure your hands are in the air," Jones said before getting on his belly and showing the troops what he was speaking of.

  • Manager Greg Riddoch is big on making each player get attuned to their own body and how is reacts versus how it should react.

    He asks each of his hitters to feel a good swing and know when it is a bad swing.

    "When you can feel it, you can fix it yourself on the fly," Riddoch said. "Adjust the mental side – and we are done."

    His hope is to make the hitters more aware of the deficiencies so they can make an adjustment from one swing to the next. Take a step back, focus on the good and come back with a purpose. By knowing your body, those adjustments will become quicker with little to no thought necessary.

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