After checking in Addison Russell at Stockton, I thought I would do some more scouting over at Raley Field in Sacramento. I was mostly interested in Grant Green (I was putting together a piece recommending Oakland sell high at the time of his callup), but I also got some footage of Oakland’s #2 ranked prospect Michael Choice.
The night I was in town, the River Cats had the pleasure of facing Diamondbacks left-hander Tyler Skaggs. I am hoping Skaggs was just really on that night, because he shut out the River Cats. But I was able to get footage of Choice getting a hit, and make enough swings to see consistent patterns.
Let’s take a look at a few of his swings.
The first thing that we can see is that Choice uses an early-stride swing, similar to what we saw in Addison Russell. When I first saw the swing, it kinda reminded me of an early David Wright. He has the early stride and BIG front leg turn. Wright has gone back-and-forth with the early-stride approach. I would like to see Choice at least lose the exaggerated front leg turn for reasons I will outline below.
Choice sets up slightly open, and it a pretty good attack position.
While I don’t like the early-stride approach, I prefer how Choice starts the movement over Russell. Choice keeps his torso in a good attack position, and prevents his weight from getting past his rear leg.
From the launch position, Choice simply places his front foot on the ground. Choice doesn’t allow his torso to tip backward, as his head is in front of his belt buckle. A lot of people claim the early stride approach helps hitters “stay back” for off-speed pitches. In fact, the opposite is true. Keep in mind, at the point Choice puts hit foot down, the pitcher has not released the ball.
Here we can see Choice’s big inward turn of the front leg. I don’t like this at all. To be able to adjust to off-speed pitches, hitters need to be able to land with the front side closed, wait on the pitch, then open the front side. There is no way Choice can complete his stride without at least partially opening his front side. Once the front side starts to open, the rear side wants to follow.
I will call this Choice’s toe touch. I would like to see him just land in this position without the big inward turn. As we can see, Choice has already opened the front side, basically giving his swing a running start. Like I said, this makes adjusting for off-speed pitches difficult.
We can really see Choice’s running start or leak when we look at how he takes pitches. That’s a pretty big commitment to the pitch.
Like Addison Russell, despite the stride, he gets his swing going in a pretty good position. Like Addison Russell, his front shoulder action is a little lacking. (for more on the front shoulder function, go here)
Unlike Grant Green, Choice is in pretty good position. But could improve the front shoulder.
Choice’s swing looks pretty good here. I would like to see a little more depth in his swing. But not bad.
Pretty good here. His front arm is a little out in front due to the lack of front shoulder articulation.
If I had to grade Choice’s swing in one word, it would be meh. Not bad, but not great. He swings come in at 10 or 11 frames at 60 fps, so not world class bat speed. Plus he is going to struggle against the off-speed stuff. I am hoping that Choice (like David Wright and Bryce Harper) will lose the big inward turn of the front leg and improve on the front shoulder function.
Choice’s tools profile at hit: 3/5 and power: 5/6 (present/future out of 6). Unless he corrects the stride and gets a boost in in bat speed, I think 4 for both hit and power is more realistic. But considering those numbers with the 5 for speed and field, I think Choice may have a spot in the outfield next year. I see him as a cross of Coco Crisp and Chris Young (the good Chris Young, not the one the A’s got). Basically a .270 average and 15-23 homeruns. I wouldn’t peg him as a high OBP guy, but he has posted a respectable .383 this year, so who knows.
The latest farm report doesn’t profile him well at centerfield, which is unfortunate because I would like to see more production out of corner outfielders.
What do you guys think?