The Red Sox knew when they drafted outfielder Jason Place that he was far from a finished product.
The raw, toolsy 19-year-old has struggled to string together consistent at-bats in his first full season at low Class A Greenville this year, hitting .212 with 53 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.
Often compared to Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur because of his aggressive approach and huge raw power, Place has shown that kind of power in the South Atlantic League with four homers and eight doubles so far.
But Francoeur whiffed just 68 times for the entire 2003 in the Sally League, and Place’s strikeouts remain an emphasis of major concern.
“We knew there was going to be a slow progression and that’s exactly what we’ve seen,” Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen said. “He’s a worker, and there are some fundamental things we’re working on.”
Two of those things specifically are Place’s load and his trigger–getting his hands working in sync with his lower half. Unlike Greenville first baseman Lars Anderson, Place doesn’t have a natural, fluid stroke. He starts his hands in the middle of his body, then circles them back into his hitting position.
“There is some unneeded extension there, wasted movement,” a scout from an American League club said. “There are a lot of moving parts not working together consistently for where he needs to be to turn on balls on the inner half.
“So guys are pounding him in, knowing they can beat him there and then setting up with soft away. A lot of times, it’s over before it even begins.”
The Red Sox like the basics in his swing, as well as his plus bat speed. It’s just been a matter of Place buying into making minor alterations in his approach and carrying that philosophy into games.
“He’s got tremendous power and he certainly has the bat speed,” Hazen said. “It’s just a matter of him putting things together with his swing. The tools are there . . . he’s going to come around.”
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