One Drill to Help Youth Fielders Charge the Ball Better

How Can the Game of Pepper Help an Infielder Charge Groundballs Better? Charging groundballs is an issue many infielders struggle with. To fix that, we are bringing back one of...

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Blocking Drills for Catchers Catching is a position that takes a special type of player. They have to have the toughness to withstand a physical toll greater than any other...You've...

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How To Stop Hooking Foul Balls “Well anybody can pull the ball”. This often said phrase may just be the most incorrect statement related to hitting. While any hitter can...You've...

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Partner Ground Ball Drill for Hand-Eye Coordination It is no mistake that the worst infielders are typically the tightest and most rigid. All great infielders have a loose rhythm about...You've...

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“Stop Pulling Off The Ball!” Won’t I pull off with my shoulder/head if I open my front foot? Every coach and hitter in America seems to be worried about “pulling...You've...

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At times in hitting effort can outweigh execution. While the hitter feels that they are trying hard and putting their best effort into hitting the ball, they just don’t get...You've...

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The ability of a youth athlete to get into the proper hip hinge position is extremely difficult. This is something that can be troubling to teach and one that we...You've...

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One concern often expressed from baseball coaches is their hitter's front shoulder is "flying out" too early. While the front shoulder does eventually have to open up to allow for...

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One of the biggest flaws with youth hitters is their inability to swing up on the ball effectively. And whether it be their size, age, or ability level, many are...You've...

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Baseball Rebellion Lead Infield Instructor, Eric Tyler, talks about the different footwork needed to be successful at all infield positions.

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Eight Hitters to Watch in this Year's NCAA College World Series

This is the perfect time of year to sit down with your son/daughter and take in a ball game. What better way to start than the NCAA College World Series. The eight best teams in college baseball all gather in Omaha to crown the National Champion. Not only is this a great time to sit down with your youngster and point out the intricacies of the game, but it's also perfect to see what some of the best hitters in the country do.

My love for this game and the understanding of it came from my dad. I can't stress enough how sitting and watching the game intently, helped me in my career. You can learn something as a youth player from every single game you watch.

This article is designed to highlight one player from each team for you and the youth player in your life to sit down and admire. You will see many different styles from each of these players yet all seem to get the job done. Find out not only who to watch, but what makes them one of if not the best hitters on their team.

The Field

Mississippi State

Jake Mangum

What better place to start than the All-time SEC hit king. Mangum doesn't possess the same power as the rest of the group (Five career HR's) but has collected more hits than anyone to ever play in the SEC. It may not always look great, but you don't luck your way into 378 hits. Mainly relying on low, line drives and hard contact, Mangum sometimes limits his ability to drive the ball and use his plus speed for extra base-hits. So what exactly makes Mangum so good?

JakeMangumScreenshot
Photo via Prospects Live

While he may seem like a guy that swings "downward", the video shows us different. You can see in the still shot above, Mangum begins his turn by turning his barrel back and down towards the catcher. This allows him to get on plane on the pitch and work up through contact despite being a guy with limited power. Swinging "up" isn't just for power hitters. This is just one skill that makes Jake such a great player. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how Mangum plays the game. The passion and intensity he plays with are probably his two best attributes. Do yourself a favor and make sure you and your son/daughter watch one Mississippi State game this week.

Florida State

Drew Mendoza

Drew Mendoza seems like FSU's version of the college basketball player that never graduates (think Grayson Allen, Duke Basketball). Seemingly being there for the past ten years Mendoza has been a steady hand for the Seminoles since his Freshman year. Mendoza profiles much differently than Mangum, yet both seem to get the job done (Mangum drafted in the 4th Round, Mendoza in the 3rd). Let's take a look at the video and see what the 6'5" 225lb Mendoza does well.

MendozaSideBend1
via Perfect Game
MendozaSideBend2
via Perfect Game

As you see from the video above, Mendoza does a great job getting to a side bend position. This allows him to rotate the bat up through contact while still keeping his hands high above his back elbow. This is a very tough move for such a tall hitter however, this is one reason Mendoza hits for so much power (.620 slugging percentage). When people argue about the importance of swinging "up", their argument often includes "my hitters will drop their hands and swing straight up". This is unless you teach them how to correctly. If you teach the hitter to get into proper side bend to keep their hands up in the swing, this is never the issue. Check out the Rack Bat for more details on how to train side bend in the swing.

Michigan

Jordan Brewer

By far the most athletic of this group, Jordan Brewer was once a Michigan football recruit. Brewer has since used that athleticism to turn himself into a third-round pick, as well as Big Ten Conference Player of the Year.  After showing limited power in two junior college seasons (12 total Home Runs), Brewer found his stroke this season posting a .612 slugging percentage with 12 home runs.

BrewerLanding
photo via 2080 Baseball

The swing is only as good as the stride. We say this continually throughout lessons here at BRHQ, meaning the turn (swing) can only be as good as you prepare it to be. And when it comes to preparing to swing, nobody on this list does it better than Brewer. From the hip/shoulder separation (blue arrows) at landing to maintaining a good head position over the back hip, Brewer is as close to perfect as it gets. This position at landing allows him to use his natural athleticism to drive the ball in the air. As you can see in the still frame above his hips are starting to rotate open as his shoulders stay closed. This not only creates separation but also the direction to be able to cover the entire plate. I love that Brewer lands with his front foot open allowing his knee to straighten in a safer, more natural movement. This is a move many are scared to try however when done correctly can be extremely beneficial.

Example of how similar the BR Progression is to live swings.

We use the Rebels Rack as well as a strict movement progression to teach hitters here at BR to move like the best hitters in the world. Want to stride like Brewer? Try one of our online lesson packages or come see us in person at BRHQ in Durham. This is the first step every single hitter we work with goes through.

Arkansas

Heston Kjerstad

Since the moment Heston Kjerstad arrived on campus in Fayetteville, the power was real. Following an SEC Freshman of the Year season, Kjerstad continued his onslaught on SEC pitching was 15 more home runs as a Sophmore. There is no doubt the big lefty is considered one of the best power hitters in all of college baseball. Every Kjerstad at-bat in this years CWS should be appointment television.

KjerstadPosture1
KjerstadPosture2

The thing I like most about Kjerstad's swing is how well he maintains his head positioning in the swing. You can see from the still shots above, his head and spine are in the same position after contact as it is when the stride lands. This allows Heston to rotate the bat up and on plane through contact. He also does a great job getting his back knee in front of his head in the finish to allow him to support his weight staying back through his thigh instead of his back like you see with young hitters who push their heads forward.

Vanderbilt

J.J. Bleday

Possibly the best college hitter in the country this season, J.J. Bleday, destroyed the opposing pitching all year long. After hitting a combined six home runs his first two years at Vandy, Bleday mashed a whopping 26 round-trippers in 2019. Bleday's power display caught the eye of the Miami Marlins making him the fourth overall pick in this year's draft. So what exactly does Bleday do to generate so much power?

BledayTurningTheBat
Via College Films

The biggest thing that stood out to me after watching Bleday on film was how well he turned the bat. You can see above that at contact, the barrel of the bat is well in front of his hands. This allows the barrel to accelerate around his hands using the knob as a pivot point. Most people when attempting to pull the ball think about hitting the ball more out in front. This is correct however we must remember, the barrel is what hits the ball, not our hands. Meaning the farther a hitter's hands go forward, the later the bat is accelerated to the point of contact. This move allows J.J. to make later decisions on whether to swing or not because he can move the bat faster. This probably has something to do with his unbelievable K/BB ratio (102K/119BB).

Texas Tech

Josh Jung

Josh is someone we have kept a close eye on for a few years here at BR. When you have a career 1.031 OPS in over 700 at-bats, we tend to take notice. Another top-10 pick in this years draft, Jung has been one of college baseball's elite hitter for 3 years now. Josh is one of the more, if not the, most complete hitter on this list. A career .348 hitter with more walks than strikeouts isn't that difficult to find in college baseball. However, they don't usually come with 32 home runs and 53 doubles. Josh has proven over the past three years that he hit for both power and average.

JungSeparation
via Huy Hoane Quoc

Obviously, Josh does a lot of things well in the swing. However, the most impressive thing to me is how well he separates his shoulders and hips in the stride. It is very rare to see a hitter with as much mass as Jung (215lbs) have the flexibility to separate this much and create so much torque in the stride. With many hitters as big and physical as Josh injuries are a concern. However, with how well he lands with his front knee (Kneecap facing the pitcher at landing), there won't be much stress on the front knee and lower back. And we all know "the best ability is availability".

Auburn

Steven Williams

The Auburn Sophmore struggled throughout the 2019 season after bursting onto the scene after an All-American Freshman year. However, without a red-hot Williams, the Tigers would not be in Omaha. Williams has caught fire in the postseason and looks more like the power threat we saw in 2018. With three home runs in his last six games, look for Auburn to rely on Williams sweet left-handed stroke to make some noise in Omaha.

WyattGIFFinal
via Prospects Live

Williams does a great job within the swing on keeping his head and chest back over his back hip. This allows him to rotate the bat upwards and on plane as you see above. The stillness of his head and deepness of the turn allows him to accelerate the bat on plane as well as gives him more time to make good decisions. The more time a hitter has, the better.

Louisville

Logan Wyatt

The Cards are coming off a red-hot Super Regional in which 1-9 in the lineup were scary to face. Yet throughout the entire regional one guy in the lineup stood out a little more than the rest. It's not like the 51st overall draft pick put the team on his back and carried them to Omaha. But his presence in the box stood out. He always looked as if he was going to do damage. It's that amazing calmness/confidence that has made Wyatt an on-base machine the past two seasons for the Cards (131 BB's/84 K's).

Wyatt Posture
via James Weisser

So we know Wyatt has power from the left side (Career: 15 HR's, 45 doubles) and a great eye (back-to-back seasons of 60+ walks), but how does he do it? The picture above shows how well Wyatt creates space in his swing. What I mean by creating space is he allows the bat to travel up and through contact while seemingly pushing his head and chest away from the ball to give himself more time. This gives him exceptional depth within the swing creating allowing him to make late, quick decisions while still working on plane.

Sit Back and Enjoy

And just like that, you have something to watch on TV every night for the next two weeks. These guys all have things in common that make them such great hitters. Posture, head positioning and bat path all seem to be similar. Which is usually the case for most great hitters. But what makes baseball fun is the different styles you will see from each guy. Jake Mangum is completely different than Josh Jung. Yet both get the job done for their team and will be relied on at the pinnacle of college baseball. These next two weeks include some of the most intense, exciting games of baseball you will see all year. So take the time to not only watch it but learn from what you're watching. These are the best 18-22-year-old baseball players in the country playing in their sport's biggest stage, Omaha.

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Playing summer ball at any level can lead to rapid skill development when done correctly. Playing upwards of four or five games each week allows a player the opportunity to get more at-bats and more plays in the field than ever before. The sheer amount of experience gained from the summer season is key in each players development. However, there still must remain an emphasis on skill development outside of the game environment. And I believe, this is where you can gain your advantage on the competition.

Training and skill development seems to be forgotten in the summer months. I understand that there are more games being played and with school out, the average youth player would rather be doing anything other than training in their spare time. So how can you get the most out of your player this summer without risking them burning out? I can tell you that it isn't another 200 swings off the tee. This is where the Rack Bat comes into play.

Rack Bat is Fire
Rack Bat

Fatigue:

One of the main battles of training in the summer is fatigue. After playing up to six games in a weekend, all in the hot sun, it is tough for a player to want to jump right back to work on Monday. Even between doubleheaders, it's tough to get players back up and moving to get ready for the next game. Productive BP to get your hitters ready becomes tired, lazy swings for ten minutes. And who can blame them? They just played an entire game in the heat and have one maybe two more to go. I wouldn't want to hit in the cage in between either.

Bad Habits

With the heat taking the energy out of players, they're unable to take their best swings. So why force the issue? The more half-effort swings taken, the worse the player gets. If the player isn't focused on taking good reps but more interested in getting back under the shade and resting for the next game, no development is really happening. Not only is no development occurring but, bad habits are being created. One major issue that occurs when hitting tired is the swing becomes armsy, meaning less of the body is being used in the swing and mostly arms are used to move the bat. This issue can be resolved by using the rack bat.

As you can see from the video above, the Rack Bat can be used to clean up rotational movements in the mirror, as well as actually hit a moving ball. This provides a fun alternative to the typical batting practice. They are forced to use their body properly in order to find success, leading them to avoid bad habits created by lazy, tired swings. The movement benefits associated with using the Rack Bat can be found in Tyler Zupcic's latest article.

Injuries

If a player isn't dealing with a few bumps or bruises at some point in the summer it just means they haven't played enough. One of my favorite things about the rack bat is that if a player is hampered with a hand or wrist injury, they are still able to practice and prepare for the game. Speaking of hands, the rack bat limits the wear and tear on the hitter's hands that have to endure hundreds of swings a week. It is true, the best ability is availability.

Facilities

stonehill-cage-rotating

As I stated in a previous article, the biggest challenge to preparing a hitter in youth baseball is the facilities available. Are there cages available? How much room do you have? Do you have balls to hit with? Are the balls you do have waterlogged? So much goes into pre-game preparation. The beauty of using the rack bat is that all you need is the tool and the softballs sent with the purchase.

The Rack Bat now comes with two softballs for use.
The Rack Bat now comes with two softballs for use.

At Home Program

ExerciseSetsReps
Regular Rack Turns55
Rack Bat- Location: UP23
Rack Bat- Location: Down23
Rack Bat- Location: Middle23
Rack Bat Hitting45

Pre-game Program

ExerciseSetsReps
Regular Rack Turns55
Resisted Rack Turns28
Assisted Rack Turns28
Rack Bat Hitting45

There is no better way for a hitter to stay fresh and avoid the many struggles that come with continuing to develop while playing summer ball. Grab a Rack Bat today and improve your posture, hip hinge, side bend, and vision all without the wear and tear hitting takes on your hands. Stay healthy and continue to develop your rotational skills throughout the summer.

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