Notes From The Coast: Mindset Change Unleashes Cal Raleigh
The contrast between Cal Raleigh’s first two months and his final one at high Class A Modesto is striking.
In his first 247 plate appearances, Raleigh hit seven home runs and struck out 53 times.
In his last 101 plate appearances, Raleigh hit 15 home runs and struck out 16 times.
The difference, according to his manager, was a change in mindset.
“It was basically when the pitcher would cock his arm his mindset was, ‘Maybe I will swing,’” Modesto manager Denny Hocking said. “For me, there’s not enough time. It’s about 0.44 seconds for a 90-plus mile (per) hour fastball from release to contact point. You don’t have time to say, ‘Maybe yes, maybe no.’
“So we had a conversation about it and . . . he took right to it and he understood it. It was just the mindset of, ‘Yes, I’m swinging. I’m looking for this pitch in this area . . . and if it’s there, I don’t have to change anything. If it’s not, it’s a simple no now.'”
Raleigh, the Mariners' 2018 third-round pick out of Florida State, hit .345/.426/.885 from June 16 to July 14 after making the adjustment and surged into the California League lead with 22 home runs.
“Normally, when you’re a manager you bring guys into your office,” Hocking said. “That was a special day for us where I sat everybody in the clubhouse and made that announcement. Everybody had a little bit of a piece of all three of those guys getting sent up. That was the best moment, for me, this year.
Gareth Morgan Experiences A Rebirth
Gareth Morgan has found new life in the Angels' organization.
A second-round pick of the Mariners in 2014, Morgan never hit above .235 or had a strikeout rate lower than 35 percent in five-plus seasons—all at high Class A or below—and was released in mid-April.
The Angels signed Morgan believing they could make some tweaks to his swing to help him get to his enormous raw power, and so far Morgan has made good on that belief.
The 23-year-old outfielder has hit .295 with 18 home runs and 39 RBIs in 37 games since joining high Class A Inland Empire in early June. He ranks third in the California League in home runs, despite not playing for most of the season’s first two months.
Morgan’s strikeout rate remains unsustainably high at 49.7 percent, but he’s getting the bat on the ball more than ever before and making an impact. He had a particularly memorable moment Monday, when he hit a game-tying, three-run home run against Modesto, the Mariners' affiliate and his former team.
Shumpei Yoshikawa Carves Unique Path
Japanese players coming to the United States to play baseball isn’t unique. The way Shumpei Yoshikawa came over, however, is.
Yoshikawa, 24, is making his professional debut pitching for high Class A Visalia this year. The D-backs signed Yoshikawa last fall out of Japan’s industrial league, a league where players are nominally employees of a corporation and play for the company team, although in reality they play baseball full-time.
The top players from the industrial league typically go to Nippon Pro Baseball, the Japanese major leagues. Yoshikawa, however, became just the second player to sign with an MLB team directly from the industrial league, following former Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa.
Yoshikawa’s first foray into pro ball has been mixed. He is 3-6, 4.14 for Visalia with 73 strikeouts and 19 walks in 67.1 innings. In his most recent start, the 6-foot-2 righthander sat 88-90 mph on his fastball with an effective 79-80 mph changeup. His 77-82 mph slider remains inconsistent in both shape and velocity, and he has begun throwing a looping, 67-69 mph curveball to give batters a different look.
Osvaldo Hernandez Still Building
Padres lefthander Osvaldo Hernandez is still building back up from the shoulder inflammation that kept him out the first two months of the season.
The 21-year-old's fastball has ranged from 86-90 mph since he joined high Class A Lake Elsinore in early July. Hernandez’s fastball averaged 91 mph last year, when he won the ERA title in the low Class A Midwest League.
Hernandez has also been limited to three innings per start. His season-high pitch count is 50 pitches.