High-A Hillsboro hitting coach K.C. Judge remembers the text arriving on his phone one night in late June. It was from outfielder Dominic Canzone. He was ready to make changes to his swing.
The way Canzone explains it, he was hitting balls hard, but too much of his good contact was on a line or on the ground. He also couldn’t get the ball in the air to his pull side.
“A couple of swing adjustments were really big for me,” Canzone said. “Once I was able to get a higher finish, I started to do a little better and get some of those harder hits in the air and do a little bit more damage.”
The results speak for themselves in what turned into a breakout season. Canzone hit .302/.375/.522 with 14 home runs in 79 games for Hillsboro and Double-A Amarillo. The 24-year-old lefthanded hitter finished the year in the Arizona Fall League.
“It took a little bit, but he really opened up,” Judge said. “That night he texted me, it was just about midnight as I was getting into bed, and he asked, ‘Can we get to work tomorrow?’ And we did. He really opened up and was like, ‘OK, I need to make an adjustment,’ and he did. I give him all the credit in the world.”
Canzone started slowly, as did a lot of hitters who went without a season in 2020, then was sidelined briefly by a hand injury. He said getting healthy, adjusting his finish and getting his “pretty decent sized” leg kick more under control helped him get going.
Canzone also reduced his chase rate. He points to a conversation he had with D-backs farm director Josh Barfield that prompted him to be more selective.
“That definitely woke me up a little bit,” Canzone said. “Just getting my pitch. I was definitely chasing, trying to hit stuff I can’t get good swings off on.”
A 2019 eighth-round pick out of Ohio State, Canzone is viewed as a bat-first left fielder, though he saw time at first base in the AFL in hopes of increasing his versatility.
— Righthander Slade Cecconi turned in his best outing yet in the Arizona Fall League on Oct. 23, giving up one run in four innings, walking none, striking out five and averaging 92.9 mph with his fastball. Still, evaluators say he isn’t all the way back to looking like the dominant pitcher he was in instructional league last year. Cecconi had his regular season cut short by an elbow issue.
— Ex-big league outfielder Jonny Gomes, who had been the organization’s outfield/baserunning coordinator since 2019, will not return next season.