Reese Havens: Swing Evaluation

reese-havens-closeThe 22nd pick of the 2008 draft — shortstop Reese Havens — has quickly emerged as one of the Mets’ top prospects.

He is a strong all-around player, both in terms of talent and sound fundamentals, and has the “makeup” that scouts adore. Recently, the Mets decided to move him from his natural shortstop position to second base — presumably to accelerate his path to the big leagues.

A solidly built middle infielder, his promotion to MLB will be tied directly to his bat. He has had trouble keeping his average above .250 and making contact, but he’s shown some pop. I’m very high on him because he’s a grinder and plays the game the right way, but he definitely needs to continue developing as a hitter to make the ultimate jump.

That said, I took a close look at his swing, using video from his stint in the Cape Cod League and more recent footage shot by Toby Hyde in the Arizona Fall League (thanks Toby!). With help from someone who teaches hitting for a living, we came to the conclusion that he has room for improvement — which is a good thing.

You can see the videos and read the evaluation of Reese Havens’s swing at OnBaseball.com. For the most part it’s a good swing, but he has one major flaw that, if corrected, can unleash his true potential as a power hitter (i.e., become the next Jeff Kent).

If you are a player or coach, you may learn something useful from the videos and article that you can apply to your next practice session.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike December 4, 2009 at 10:41 am
    Jeff Kent or Chase Utley? Does it really matter? Havens has a big year ahead of him in AA. First off he needs to fully adjust to second base if he wants to see the show in 2011. If he can’t play second base then it is hard to see him ever sticking with the Mets, but you are correct that his bat will dictate his path to the show. His power numbers have really been his only bright spot in his two years now in the Mets system. He has yet to stay healthy, yet to hit for average, and he is striking out quite a bit. He showed promise in the AFL for sure, but I’d like to see him focus on hitting for average and reducing the strike outs before he works on his power. They absolutely should go hand in hand, but we all know he can hit for power already, but he needs to prove he can hit for average and make contact consistently.
  2. joejanish December 4, 2009 at 10:51 am
    Mike – I sincerely believe that if Havens can correct the flaw that’s identified at OnBaseball.com, he will reduce his strikeouts and improve his average, in addition to increasing his power.

    His glitch is causing him to rush the hands to catch up to the ball. From his quotes in Toby’s article it sounds like someone tried to “shorten” his swing — a typical case of treating the symptom instead of the underlying problem. If he can find a way to stay back better, and limit the problem of drifting forward and “muscling up”, he’ll have more time to recognize pitches and be in a better position to drive through the ball.

    It sounds easy enough, unfortunately it’s always difficult to change a swing — particularly with an experienced / adult player. Knowing what needs to be fixed is only half the battle, and the easy part of the process. The hard thing is applying a change.

  3. […] a post to Mets Today, Joe Janish takes a look at the evolution of Havens’s […]