In need of some changes, he worked with Atlanta hitting coordinator Chris Antariksa and special assistant Greg Walker. They helped Shewmake fix his timing mechanism and make a technical swing tweak.
Results may never have come more quickly. One week after making those adjustments at the plate, Shewmake hit for the cycle for the first time in his life -- it was also Triple-A Gwinnett's first one. The 25-year-old reached base five times, once after getting hit by a pitch, in Wednesday's 12-9 loss to St. Paul.
“It doesn’t quite feel real, to be honest with you. It’s kind of crazy,” Shewmake said. “It’s definitely nice to be able to get two hits on a fastball, a hit on a changeup and then a hit on a curveball from a lefty. Kind of cover our bases at that point, it’s really cool. There are obviously still things to clean up and there are still things to get better at, but everything felt right today.”
Prior to the coaches’ arrival on June 20, Shewmake was slashing just .210/.274/.375 on the season, not including an 0-for-4 stretch in his brief MLB debut May 5-6. The 2019 first-round pick (21st overall) wanted to calm down, feel more comfortable in the box and let his ability take care of things.
Shewmake talks often with the Braves hitting coordinators and goes over video with them after games, but working in person unlocked something new. The 25-year-old said it’s the best he’s felt in the box in quite some time.
“We watched some Joey Votto video and the way that he loads and the connection between his hands and his feet,” Shewmake said. “It’s not as drastic as what he does, but it’s a modified version of what he does. That’s the direction we were trying to go. It’s felt really comfortable, and it’s something I was able to repeat today and the last couple of days. We’re still ironing out some things, but I think we’re in a good spot now.”
The results were plain to see on the field. It’s not just that he hit for the cycle -- or that he’s slashing .473/.586/.850 in seven games since the mechanical changes -- he made hard contact in every at-bat Wednesday.
His first-inning double came off the bat at 100.4 mph and landed on the center-field warning track. The third-inning homer -- his eighth of the year -- rocketed out 349 feet to left field at 98.4 mph. And then he scorched a single through the left side at 98.3 mph that no one had a chance at.
At this point, teammate Eli White pointed out he was a three-bagger away from the cycle. And sure enough, in his final at-bat in the ninth, Shewmake crushed his hardest-hit ball of the day -- 101.0 mph off the right-center wall -- and went all out to secure the first cycle for any Braves Minor Leaguer since Tony Tarasco in 1993.
“He looked at me and he goes, ‘Hey man, I need you to hit a ball in the gap and just keep running.’” Shewmake said. “I hit that ball, and I never thought I’d say this, but fortunately enough, the wind was blowing in hard enough. It would probably be a home run any other day. But I knew as soon as I hit it into the teeth of the wind ... I saw the ball hit off the wall, I was like, ‘Alright, here it is. You gotta go.’ Then I was running into third base, and as soon as I saw the third baseman [Jose Miranda] go up the line a little bit, I knew it was going to work out. I was super excited, super pumped. The dugout went crazy, so that was a lot of fun.”