A few days ago I completed my first minors mailbag for Gaslamp Ball, and there was a question about Hudson Potts 2019 season. His strikeout numbers were up this year and by some accounts he struggled.
While that does appear as the case, the monthly splits for Potts show some very nice improvements throughout the season. That includes his slash and his strikeout numbers, which are detailed in the mailbag...if you haven’t read it, it’s the first question so feel free to scroll right to it. If not, just keep reading because the strikeout numbers are coming up.
For a quick one-stat summary to show Potts’ improvement, his wRC+ for the month of April was 65, then 92 in May, 107 in July, and 110 in August. He missed most of June due to injury. Statistically, there is not much showing anything but improvement while spending the entire year at the Double A level.
As for the strikeout numbers, his 28.6 percent strikeout rate in 2019 could be viewed as a major issue. Here are his strikeout percentages by month from April to August: 34.0, 32.5, 31.1, 17.1. And just for fun here is a quick glance at Potts’ walk percentages by month: 7.8, 8.8, 7.5, 5.1. That led to a 7.1 walk percentage on the year. Once again, those lists do not have the month of June.
The drastic drop in strike percentage in August might not stick, but it still shows some improvement. His strikeout numbers from year to year average out to a strikeout percentage in the low 20’s as an ideal spot to shoot for.
For me, it became a question of how Potts has adjusted his swing to become more successful. And just like his now-teammate Taylor Trammell, Amarillo has been good for Potts’ swing.
I went back and watched two random at bats, one from April and one from August. The last pitch in each at bat was an outside pitch. This is the April at bat against J.B. Bukauskas, which ended in a strikeout.
This pitch, while belt high is placed right on the corner. It’s a nice pitch, but it looks like Potts is diving out over the plate to try and get there.
Quick disclaimer, on this August picture: I am aware the camera angle is different. Either way, it is a better looking swing at the point of contact. This resulted in a flyout, but the swing is looking better.
The pitch in the August swing is a little more over the middle of the plate, but still on the outside. You can see that Potts is not diving out as much. His arms tell the story of a more compact swing, as well.
This is the kind of science experiment for people who are bad at science, like me, but it must be repeated in order to be a good experiment. So I picked two different at bats from the months of April and August. These at bats, by pure luck of the draw, both resulted in grounders to the third baseman. Here is the at bat from April, against the Springfield Cardinals.
And then again in a game a few months later in August against the Tulsa Drillers.
Once again, these pitches are on the outside part of the plate. Though the August picture is honestly closer to being down the middle. Either way, the book is clearly to pitch Potts on the outside because that is what has been successful. That is likely due to his early season at bats where he would either miss the ball or only be able to roll it over to the third baseman.
It’s not a coincidence that in the four at bats I randomly selected, he was being pitched outside. In both of those comparisons, it’s clear to see the change in Potts swing. He is not diving out as much, which is allowing him more success on pitches away.
Unfortunately, there is no way that I know of to find a month-by-month spray chart. So this will have to suffice. Take a look at how many of his outs at the Double A level have been made via ground-out to third. I would be willing to bet that a great deal of those came earlier in the year when his tendency was to dive at those outside pitches.
His power is going to be a nice asset to have if he can get it under control. That is why strikeout numbers aren’t of the biggest concern. Potts will have to continue to make adjustments to make sure he can find the barrel when he does swing, but 2019 looks like a great example of his willingness to learn and ability to grow as a hitter.
Potts is going to need to cover the whole plate to hit. He started to do that at the end of the regular season, and being at the Arizona Fall League is only going to help his him become better. There is a lot to like about him moving forward.