Jeren Kendall was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2017. Kendall boasted the tantalizing combo you see scouting reports rave about: ‘power and speed’. However, he had too much swing-and-miss in his game at that time.
Now, Bill Plunkett writes at Baseball America that the problem has not gone away. Still, Kendall is working to hone his craft and find his way to the big league club. The search and solution are the same. Kendall is striving for more contact in his game.
Jeren Kendall isn't happy with the results so far.
So he spent time this offseason in LA with hitting guru Craig Wallenbrock and newly hired Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc.https://t.co/tmaa5iZhHb
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) February 4, 2019
From the article:
“I’m not happy by any means,” Kendall said. “I think the numbers can only say so much. I think if you came and watched me it’d be hard to say the numbers were what they were at the end of the year. If you came and watched me—watched me play defense, watched me run when I got on—you would never have noticed I was struggling the way I was.”
The numbers don’t lie. Kendall hit just .225 with 15 home runs in two pro seasons over 600 at-bats. Moreover, Kendall has struck out in over one third of those trips to the plate (203 strikeouts).
This has the organization tinkering with the former first-rounder’s swing plane a little bit. Some interesting details if you enjoy the science of hitting, and mechanics. Spending time with hitting geniuses like Robert Van Scoyoc (he made Chris Taylor famous) can only help.
The focus has been on improving Kendall’s bat path, putting him in the hitting zone sooner and keeping his bat there longer, giving him a better chance to make contact more often.
“My hands are so in and out of the zone,” Kendall said. “Hitting with them every day, it’s easy adjustments. It’s just hard to repeat them over and over again. But obviously coming off a year like last year, I don’t have to be perfect. You see one little thing you’ve got to change and that ends up changing three or four different things. It’s a process but it’s been fun so far.”
It will be interesting to see how Kendall fares in 2019. He finished the 2018 campaign with Rancho Cucamonga, and you can check out his full minor league stats here.
Kendall is a Vanderbilt product with high pedigree, and he turned 23 years of age on Monday. So, happy birthday to Kendall; and we will be keeping an eye on his progress as he attempts to rocket through the Dodgers farm system. It’s always interesting to watch prospect progress as the years go on and the stories on the site grow older.