ANALYZE THIS: Chance Sisco
In this installment of Analyze This, we take a look at Chance Sisco, the Orioles' top prospect. At Triple-A Norfolk, Sisco, 22, is hitting .277/.348/.378 with two home runs and 22 RBIs. He was the Orioles' second-round pick in 2013 out of high school in California, and his swing has changed as he's developed. We asked Norfolk hitting coach Sean Berry—an 11-year major leaguer—to compare a swing of Sisco's from 2014 to one from earlier this year. Here's what he said.
"Truthfully, the lower hand position is a little closer to where you launch from. You've got to really look when he makes that stride when he gets to that launch position where he's at. He's definitely a little taller on the left. There's definitely been some adjustment. He's on his legs better in 2017, which I like, but his hands in both swings, they get to about the same spot, where the hands launch from.
"You don't want to be too steep in the zone either, so when you have a real high hand position you're going to have to get to down a little lower to get into what we call the slot, which is more of a position to fire from. So he's going to have to move his hands farther in the earlier shot than in the recent shot. It's a big difference."
"I think the hands a little bit here, in 2017, where he's a little bit lower. If you're going to fire from up here (in the left picture) you're going to be steep, right? So you want to make sure you can get to a position where your elbow can be close to your body and you can fire from a little bit more optimal spot to fire from. You can be a little flatter and get uphill, if you will, and you don't have to do the "get on top of the ball" stuff, which everybody seems to be crazy about.
"A simple spot that's flat to the zone makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense that you're going to have more opportunity and then timing is less of an issue to hit the ball hard somewhere. If you have somewhat of a descending swing, you're only going to be in that zone for a short period of time, and if you have too much of an uphill swing you're going to be in that zone for a very short period of time too. In a perfect world we want a slightly uphill path, but a lot of times if I tell you that you're going to swing uphill too much. Ultimately it comes down to each player and how they can get the results needed to be successful.
"The pitch is a little higher on the left, so the swings are going to look a little different. The one on the left looks like perfect timing, really, if you think about it, but that doesn't always equate to a good result. It's always different when you're analyzing video, you look for certain things but you don't look for the important things. And one of the important things is where his head is on contact, if his barrel is somewhat but not too far ahead of his hands.
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"If you throw the barrel too early in the process, you're going to cut the swing off and come over the top so you want to be in a position—kind of like a golf swing—where your hands are a little bit ahead. The last hinge to go is the release of the barrel. You don't want to hold it too long, because then you flare (the ball), but that's one of the biggest mistakes young hitters make. They try to get the barrel there too soon and come over the top instead and that causes them to roll over (the ball)."