November 19, 2016
Developing as a switch hitter generally takes longer to achieve than players who only hit from one side of the plate.
There’s many reasons for this fact, but the primary factor is that it takes longer to create consistency at both sides of the plate with fewer reps than their counterparts.
Shortstop JC Cardenas understands this challenge all so well, as the promising prospect has yet to hit for a ton in professional baseball.
In fact, Cardenas only managed a .206/.279/.294 slash line in 262 at-bats for the Lansing Lugnuts in 2016. But despite the lower numbers, the prospect developed his game well as he took in a lot of information from his professional coaches that are consistently teaching the young shortstop how to handle certain situations on both sides of the plate.
“All of the coaches I’ve had so far have helped me a lot,” stated Cardenas. “They have helped me with my footwork and getting in the right position. They make sure I’m moving around based on the count.”
Showing promising power at times in 2016; Cardenas recroded 14 doubles, and hit three home runs on his campaign. His 17 extra base hits was great to see from a middle infielder, as guys who play up the middle generally don’t put up big production numbers.
While Cardenas loves getting a big hit, the prospect tries to keep everything in perspective when he’s at the ballpark.
“My goals are to stay consistent and have good at-bats,” explained Cardenas. “I’m just trying to hit the ball hard, get on base, and score runs. I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win. I’m always looking to find a way to make a positive impact on the team.”
Cardenas isn’t the only one that’s positive about his development, so is Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Donnie Murphy.
“JC just needs to keep working hard,” explanied Murphy. “JC is a switch hitter and switch hitters take longer to develop since you’re batting from both sides. He just needs to keep working hard on his movements on both sides to find consistency. It’ll take a while, but it’ll eventually come.”
Another area that’ll get better in time is his defense. Known for his strong arm and excellent range at shortstop, Cardenas went through a few growing pains in the field as well.
Finishing the year with a .927 fielding percentage at his natural position wasn’t completely ideal for the 22-year old infielder. But despite a few errors here and there, Cardenas put up respectable numbers in the field.
The prospect assisted on 151 plays, and took part in 39 double plays in his 636 1/3 innings in the field. His defensive production should come as little surprise as he admits he works very hard on that side of the game every day.
“I feel pretty good at shortstop every day,” said Cardenas. “I work hard every day to be ready for the game.”
If Cardenas uses the same approach to the game next season, the prospect should start finding the consistency he has been looking for in his first two seasons of professional baseball.
Fans will definitely be watching JC Cardenas as he continues to fine-tune his game at the plate, and sharpen his skills in the field.