CJ Abrams hit his first grand slam in April of last season, his first leadoff home run in August, and his first double home run in September.
Abrams’ 18 home runs this year were four more than he had hit in three professional seasons at bat up until last year.
His manager, Davey Martinez, said it wasn’t much of a surprise that Abrams had so much power in the match.
“If you watch his batting practice, it’s there,” Martinez told reporters after a two-homer game in September. “Now it’s turning into a game.
“The reason is… he gives himself the opportunity to hit every pitch hard. I’ve always said that if he really learns how to close the strike zone, he’s going to be an All-Star.
“He’s going to be something different, so he’s doing well.”
Abrams said his increased power is a result of being more comfortable at the plate.
“I think I’m more comfortable there,” the 23-year-old shortstop explained.
“Understand your pitches. You’ll get less frustrated and anxious about everything. If you can keep that approach, you’ll do well.”
The manager noted that Abrams hit two home runs to right (417 feet and 383 feet, respectively) and said he has an increased ability to pull the ball.
“He sets himself up early so he can adjust how the ball goes in,” Martinez said.
“And that’s been the big difference. We just work hard at that. One, to make sure he stays on the plane and at the top of baseball, and two, to make sure he stays on the plane and at the top of baseball. It’s about making sure he’s putting his foot down early on time, he’s done that and that’s where you see all this power coming from.”
Abrams said more succinctly: “He’s more direct to the ball.”
“Shorten the swing. Simplify it. For sure.”
The increased power and success at the plate is one of several signs the captain has shown Abrams’ increasing maturity, with Martinez pointing to his move to the leadoff spot in early July as a turning point. That was one of the things.
“He was great,” Martinez said.
“I think a lot of it was when I gave him command responsibility and we talked about it. That was a big thing for him. I asked him if he thought he could do it and he said, “Yes,” I replied. And he did it. So, I’m proud of the way he works and his routine is getting a lot better so he’s getting ready to play every day and taking care of his body and how much You will see if it makes a difference. ”
Martinez spoke again about Abrams’ maturity after the speedy infielder stole two bases in the final game of the year, setting Washington’s single-season steals record.
“He’s getting better every day,” the sixth-year captain said.
“I hope he really, really realizes what kind of player he can be because he has the potential to be an impact player going forward. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed his energy. I loved it. He did everything we asked him to do. I talked to him before you all went in and I was so proud of what he did and changed himself. I told him I was very proud of him and that we must keep moving forward, and he completely agreed.”
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo made the trade. san diego padres The coach who brought Abrams (and four other prospects) to D.C. in 2022 to replace Juan Soto and Josh Bell has turned into the player Abrams expected when he was acquired late last season. He talked about things that had changed. No, it wasn’t a surprise to DC’s GM that Abrams’ bat popped.
“We’ve always watched Pop,” Lizzo told 106.7 Fans of D.C.’s Sports Junkies. “When we scouted him before the trade and stuff, that pop was obvious. But what do I think is the difference now? [Hitting Coach] Darnell [Coles] And Davey has done a really good job with him. It’s about teaching him what his happy zones are and what zones he shouldn’t swing into. Previously, we were developing him by bringing up the four-seamer and then bringing down the breaking ball, but I think we’ll see little adjustments throughout the season. He’s now kind of laying off pitches that are too much to handle. It’s like he’s looking for a certain count of pitches that he can hit.
“And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he hits his first pitch changeup in the big moments. He’s a studious guy, he’s a video expert, he’s a guy who’s been coached a lot by Darnell Coles and Davey Martinez. That’s why.” He has a bright future. .
“As I said during the draft, there are about 1,000 players older than him in this year’s draft, and this player has already had a year of experience in the big leagues.
“Bright future, great kid, high-energy player, fast player, athletic, has the tools, and is just starting to leave his mark on what his career is going to be. ”