Very few teenagers that accumulate over 150 strikeouts in their first full season of pro baseball can take it one level at a time, which is exactly what happened with Tim Battle. After racking up 47 strikeouts in 128 at-bats with Tampa, the Yankees sent him back to Charleston to figure it out. As soon as he got back to the low country, hitting coach Torre Tyson went to work.
"He immediately took the leg kick out of my swing," Battle recalls. "I started seeing the ball a lot better and hitting better as well, way better than last year. I realized this season, that it's definitely a grind, and you have to have a plan for the season to get through it. So Coach Tyson and I made a plan."
Battle explained how trashing the leg kick helped him see the ball better by keeping his head steady. But he still has a way to go with recognizing the off-speed pitch.
"I can hit the fastball easily," the 6-1 outfielder explained. "Very few guys can get a fastball by me. It's the curveball that gets me off-balanced and swinging through pitches."
Battle cited lack of experience with quality curveballs as one of his main problems. After he returns home for a few days, he heads to Instructional League for more work and his first priority is to see more curves.
Though his numbers while at Charleston were no greater than last year, having changed his whole swing motion had a lot to do with a lack in progression stats-wise. He wasn't swinging through as many pitches and chasing bad pitches early. He tallied 50 less strikeouts this season compared to past, a positive sign in an otherwise seemingly down year.
"The end of the season was tough, because we are trying to make the playoffs," Battle told PinstripesPlus.com. "I was at the top of the order and it's important for me to get on, in order for the guys behind me to knock me in."
Battle may have been putting a little too much pressure on himself towards the end of the season. But having seen his improvement since last year, when he came back to Charleston this year, and progressing throughout this season, there is no doubt that this year was his most important and productive.
Though the season has just ended, and Battle just turned 21 years old on Sunday, he explained how it is vital that he starts the season off strong next year. If his progress continues, there is hope for a strikeout total in the double digits next year while his other numbers will surely go up.