Rhett Wiseman Sees Improved Results With Improved Swing
Now in his second year with a reworked swing, Rhett Wiseman has found hitting for power to be "more second nature.” And that has been bad news for the pitchers in the Double-A Eastern League.
A third-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2015, Wiseman was hitting .298/.360/.636 and leading the league in both slugging percentage and home runs (11) through 121 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder saw improved results last season after putting in work with Nationals minor league hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich, and this year Wiseman has broken out even more.
"Going into spring training last year, I had some ideas of things that I wanted to accomplish from an offensive perspective,” Wiseman said. "Troy is the best, and we did a ton of work in spring training, tweaking my swing to the point where it became more of a lower-body swing where I could incorporate where all my strength is.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Wiseman spent two full seasons at high Class A Potomac. With his old swing, he hit .229/.283/.391 with 13 home runs in 2017. Those statistics improved to .253/.361/.484 with 21 home runs at the same level in 2018.
"There were parts of last season where it was really good, and there were parts of last season where I’d fall into habit,” Wiseman said. "What Troy kept reiterating to me was that it was going to take a lot longer than two or three months to change habits you’ve had for the past 10 or 15 years.”
Gingrich puts on a hitting camp in San Diego each offseason for several Washington farmhands, and Wiseman has attended the past two winters.
"Rhett’s in Double-A now, so the strike zone gets a little bit smaller,” Gingrich said. "Some of those pitches that were called strikes are now becoming balls, which he knew all along. It’s just a credit to him. Now it’s less about mechanics and more about approach, which is a good place to be.”
Though Wiseman primarily plays right field for Harrisburg, he has practiced at all three outfield positions before games. With his hitting improvements, that added defensive versatility could come in handy.
— The two players the Nationals acquired from the Brewers last season for lefthander Gio Gonzalez are both off to solid starts. Third baseman Gilbert Lara was slugging .472 through 161 at-bats at low Class A Hagerstown, while first baseman K.J. Harrison hit .373/.408/.552 in 67 at-bats with high Class A Potomac after he was called up from Hagerstown.