Examining the Swings at the 2019 Under Armour All-America Game

Written by: John Alfes (@JohnAlfes)

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Major League Baseball is seeing more home runs in 2019 than ever before. Of the season’s first 20,759 hits, 3,311 of them (16%) were home runs. That’s a record-setting pace — and it’s not particularly close.

However, many of the game’s next wave of high school prospects in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field aren’t completely adjusting to the launch angle craze… yet.

Blaze Jordan, the winner of the High School Home Run Derby at Progressive Field earlier this month, is focusing on keeping his swing compact, short and to the ball. Although aware of the game’s drastic uptick in home runs, he hasn’t made any major changes to his swing over the past year.

“I don’t think it’s changed at all,” Jordan said. “I kind of keep my swing just as short as I can because the faster the pitch you just gotta stay short and just be able to hit anything.”

The Mississippi State commit and top 2020 draft prospect has a max exit velocity of 102 mph, much higher than the 2020 high school class average of 84 mph, according to Perfect Game progression charts and Pocket Radar velocities. Diamond Kinetics’ latest recording has Jordan’s max barrel speed at 88.36 mph, which is also above the class average of 65.16 mph (99.94% percentile).

In this case, bat speed and exit velocity trump the launch angle.

“I like to be a pure hitter anyways and not try to be just a power hitter,” Jordan said.

Austin Kendrick, who belted 18 home runs and won the Home Run Derby at the Under Armour All-America event on Monday, is working more with the hands than the movement of the bat. His left-handed swing peppered the right-field scoreboard at Wrigley Field and consistently found ground beyond the wall.

“Just watching a lot of MLB guys,” Kendrick said of how he changes his swing. “Everything is simple, simple, simple. So the simpler you can be, the easier it is. Rely on the hands, less movement. I look at some of the greatest hitters, I look at (Christian) Yelich and (Cody) Bellinger.”

Another Mississippi State commit, Kendrick received rave reviews from multiple scouts at the pro day on Sunday. Hitting a baseball over the batter’s eye at Curtis Granderson Stadium at the University of Illinois at Chicago certainly helped his case and potentially elevated his draft stock.

“You take out the hard work that you put into it and you just keep wanting to work harder,” Kendrick said.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, a Vanderbilt commit and potential top-10 selection in next year’s draft, is keeping his swing the same. He expects his strength to do the work and his power tool to continue to develop over time, and said that line-drive hits aren’t out of style.

“[No changes] at all. I’ve always been a gap-to-gap guy,” Crow-Armstrong said of his swing. “I’ve always trusted my genes and I’ve always thought that I’m going to grow into my power. So, I’ve trusted that, committed to that, making left-center (field) my obligation, that’s been huge for me.”

Kyle Karros takes note of his father and 1992 NL Rookie of the Year, Eric Karros, who has adjusted his son’s swing in recent years. When Eric goes to Spring Training or has discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers coaching staff, he brings back pointers to aid Kyle’s hitting development.

“My dad plays a huge role in my swing,” Kyle said. “He’s more old school. With all the metrics and measurements, it’s all important, but at the end of the day everyone’s just looking for someone that can hit. Whether that’s exit velo — if you can hit, you can hit.”

All players are different in their approach. Whether that translates to the next level remains to be seen, but the progress thus far has earned the quartet exposure at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field and a taste of what it’s like to be a big leaguer.

“Being treated like this and getting a little glimpse of what it’s like is crazy and it only motivates all of us more to get there,” Karros said. “Just being on Wrigley, like when are we going to be able to do this? Being with all the best in the country, seeing how we stack up and just becoming friends with them off the field. It’s something I’ll never forget for sure.”

Follow P365 contributor John Alfes on Twitter! @JohnAlfes

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of John Alfes

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