Modesto, California —— At the top of this post, watch our most recent scouting video of Seattle Mariners #14 prospect outfielder Braden Bishop, taken from his work in a May 4-7 series for the High-A California League’s Modesto Nuts against the visiting Lake Elsinore Storm.
We published two features on the Seattle Mariners’ Braden Bishop yesterday, too; for the story of his mom’s inspirational battle with Alzhiemer’s, please click here, and for the story of how Bishop changed his career by changing his swing, please click here. To visit Braden Bishop’s player page, please click here. And please subscribe to the Baseball Census YouTube channel here for hundreds more videos like this one.
Braden Bishop scouting report notes
To put it bluntly, Braden Bishop is a completely different player than the guy I saw in the second half of last summer at Bakersfield. The 2016 version was almost frail at the plate, had pathetically little power, and struggled mightily to adjust to offspeed pitches; the 2017 version of Bishop, while only a bit bulkier in a physical sense, is swinging the bat with so much more confidence and getting his barrel into the hitting zone so much faster because of a major adjustment in the placement of his hands before launch. There are a few components to that adjustment, of course—not the least of which is Bishop’s improved ability to keep the bat head in the zone a long time, giving him a far larger margin for hard contact.
But his lower hands are allowing him to do something else, too. Look at this:
Those GIFs are synced up at the point of contact, and you can see that the 2016 version of Braden Bishop was going through so much more unnecessary movement and doing so much pre-swing momentum building before he ever makes contact than does the 2017 version. By dropping his hands this year, the Seattle Mariners’ prospect is in a better hitting position from even before the pitcher releases the ball, and he thus has a few more milliseconds to decide whether to swing or take. That’s made a massive difference; his walk rates are through the roof compared to his time in Bakersfield last year, his power numbers are way up, he’s seeing the ball earlier out of the pitcher’s hand, and even on the outs he’s making, he’s more often than not doing it with loud, clean barrel contact. He no longer has to rock together momentum out of nowhere; its already loaded up in his hands and back leg as he waits to attack.
Now, Nobody is going to confuse Bishop for a plus power guy, and I don’t think this will eventually translate into massive home run totals, but he’s completely changed his margin for error at the plate. In doing so, now he can actually hit line drives over infielders’ heads. With his plus speed, if he hits a ball that gets down in a gap like that, he can run for days, and he should find a ton of gap-to-gap success.
Here’s a second (small) way Bishop has changed at the plate. These two side-by-side GIFs below are both taken on two-strike counts. See how many differences you can spot:
The 2016 version is something, right? No stride, no leg kick, nary even a foot tap because he’s so focused on trying to get and keep his front foot down in order to have enough time to read the ball’s flight and protect the plate. Then, in turn, he’s completely given away what little power and leverage he had by just being content to put the ball in play rather than strikeout. Obviously, there are certain situations where you need a hitter to put the ball in play no matter what, but by and large, that 2016 two-strike approach is going to take potential strikeouts and convert them into certain groundouts.
The 2017 version of Braden Bishop, because he’s better balanced with hands locked and loaded from the beginning, can read the ball deeper into the zone and make a later decision about whether or not to swing. He can spit on breaking balls, fight off borderline pitches, or, in the case of this particular GIF, hit an inside fastball down the third base line for a double. The outcomes are less important than the process and mechanics of it, though; lowering his hands and sitting back to wait for something to drive has given him a split second more time for pitch recognition. In turn, that’s allowed him to retain more of his power even with two strikes, and even while he’s protecting the plate.
In about ten days, I’ll be in Frisco, Texas covering the Double-A Texas League. As luck would have it, the Arkansas Travelers — the Seattle Mariners’ Double-A affiliate — will be rolling through Frisco for a series right when I’m there. Let’s just say it wouldn’t surprise me at this rate if Braden Bishop were part of that Arkansas club by the time I head down there for the last of May/first of June. He’s a major college product now in his third year of pro ball, he’s right about average age for the Cal League and tearing it up here, and most encouragingly, even more so than his gap power and hit-for-average bump, he’s walking a ton, striking out relatively little, and seeing the ball extremely well.
Everything else is there, as it’s always been: Bishop is as fast as he’s ever been, and now he’s even getting better jumps on the bases than he did in Bakersfield last year. His outfield work is still exceptional, and it looks like he’s having a hell of a good time running down fly balls in Modesto’s massive center field. He looks healthy, and strong — even slightly bigger than he was a year ago. Things are starting to come together for him. And while he’s always going to have to fight for his at the plate—while he’s a natural defensively, his offense is going to need to prove itself again and again at higher levels—winter changes and now summer success have him trending in the right direction. It might be almost time for a promotion.
For more on Seattle Mariners outfielder Braden Bishop, please click here to read about his mom, and please click here for Bishop’s discussion on his new swing.
To visit Braden Bishop’s player page, please click here.
Braden Bishop scouting report: 140 characters or less
A great defender with plus speed in the outfield, swing changes brought Braden Bishop’s bat to life, too. If they hold, he’s a top prospect.
Braden Bishop scouting report video
Here’s a look at our most recent Braden Bishop baseball video, taken during an early May series for the Modesto Nuts against Lake Elsinore:
We’ve got more Braden Bishop baseball videos, too; here he is in the California League in 2016, playing for the Bakersfield Blaze:
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Braden Bishop’s new and old swings, taken from Modesto and Bakersfield:
And here’s one Braden Bishop at-bat, broken out in a behind-the-plate view for a different look at his swing from last year:
For more Braden Bishop baseball video, and video of hundreds more baseball prospects, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
Braden Bishop scouting report GIFs
In addition to our video clips, we broke out some Braden Bishop baseball GIFs for a deeper look at his mechanics, etc.:
For more Braden Bishop baseball GIFs, you can follow our GIPHY account here.
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