Cesar Puello: Swing Analysis- Before and After

On Monday, Mike Newman of ScoutingtheSally.com, posted his second scouting report with video of Mets OF prospect Cesar Puello.  Newman posted his first report on Puello in May, while Puello was struggling at the plate.  I want to focus more on the newer video, but I will talk about the adjustments Puello has made at the plate.  His adjustments paid off big time, as he struggled in the 1st half (.249/.336.302) of the season while flourishing in the 2nd half (.346/.424/.430).

1st Half Video

2nd Half Video

Set Up

Puello uses a wide base with his knees slightly bent in his set-up.  The 6’2″ 220lb Puello uses his strong legs to establish a strong base.  Unlike earlier in the season where Puello’s hands started nearly in the middle of his chest, he adjusted his hand set up to just behind his back ear.  Comparing the changes, the 2nd half video shows Puello made a sound adjustment to his hand set-up.

Lower Body

In the 1st half video, Puello uses a leg kick to load his lower half.  When using a leg kick, hitters tend to over-stride and land heavy on their front foot, losing balance in the process. However a hitter that uses a leg kick and puts his front foot down in the same place it started (like Manny Ramirez), usually have tremendous balance and timing. Timing and balance are the keys for hitters who use leg kicks. Obviously Puello was having timing and balance (on off-speed pitches) issues while using his leg kick. Puello’s adjustment in the 2nd half was to spread out a little more, and eliminate the leg kick all together.  Puello initiates his lower half load by just raising his front heel off the ground, as this eliminates over-striding and balance issues.  With that, there is less of a lower half load in the 2nd half video.  For me, this will limit Puello’s power potential, but it gives him a better opportunity for more contact and balance.  Give me the 2nd half version.

Upper Body

This where Puello has made his biggest adjustment.  In the first half video, you can see a very pronounced loading of the hands, as he takes his hands from the middle of his chest all the back to launch position.  That is a very long way for his hands to go, and there is less margin for error when you have so much movement.  Puello now has a much shorter load, and get his hands into attack position much more efficiently.  This allows him to recognize pitches earlier which especially helps with breaking balls.  Puello takes a good short path to the ball, and keeps his hands inside the ball well.  Puello has loose hands that enable him to whip the bat through the zone with above average bat speed.

Conclusion

Puello made great adjustments at the plate for such a young hitter.  It is very encouraging to see him willing to change, then quickly translate those changes to game output.  With these adjustments in place, Puello will start 2011 with this new found approach.  Puello is a gifted athlete, blessed with above average physical tools across the board.  While his power output hasn’t matched his power potential, Puello has shifted to a more contact oriented approach as opposed to a more power geared approach.  Puello is an above average runner, and if he increases his OBP, he has the potential to be a top of the lineup type hitter, with solid gap to gap power.  Puello’s ceiling still has yet to be determined, but if he can prove to play CF, his stock could soar next season and beyond.

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