The rise of Red Sox prospect Ryan Fitzgerald: An analytical success story
Red Sox prospect Ryan Fitzgerald learns to hit for power
He had proven to himself that he was great at matching the plane of the pitch. Now he just needed to hone in on his power, which could be done through two primary changes: Increasing the speed at which the bat moves on plane with the pitch, and tinkering with the size, shape, and weight of the bat he was swinging.
"“Mass times velocity squared equals force,” Fitzgerald said. “So, I experimented with the tool (his bat) I was using, and then being able to swing it fast really helps.”"
To increase his bat speed, Fitzgerald began using two specific training tools. The first is a crane scale, which is used to measure his rotational iso power. With a sawed-off handle of a baseball bat attached to the scale using a carabiner, it can be used to measure how much poundage an individual can turn with the motions of a baseball swing. For Fitzgerald, he knows he wants to be at 130 pounds. If he checks in lower than that, then he knows he’s not turning as much power as he should be, and an adjustment may need to be made.
The second tool Fitzgerald uses is something his current teammates are calling the Hammer of Thor. It’s a “hammer club” which he created himself by sawing off a bat handle and taping a donut weight to the end of it. The club weighs about two to three pounds and can hold two additional 2.5 pound weights to bring its total weight to about eight pounds. With the club gripped like a bat, Fitzgerald goes through the motion of his baseball swing and throws it as hard as he can into a net. The drill is executed similarly to a med ball toss, but it better replicates a true baseball swing.
Now, over the past two years, Fitzgerald has been able to put it all together. From maximizing the speed of his pelvis and the force being driven by his back heel, to swinging on plane with the pitch at the right time, he has learned exactly what he needs to do and how he needs to do it.
"“As long as my bat is moving at the angles that I want it to, then I just have to worry about making sure the barrel is in the zone at the same time as the ball,” he said. “If your barrel can be moving on plane with the pitch at the time it’s crossing the plate, then you’re gonna be a Hall of Famer.”"