WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Branden Boissiere can hit, there’s no question about that. The first baseman led the University of Arizona and ranked third in the Pac-12 with a .369 batting average his sophomore season for the Wildcats before being selected by the Nationals in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft.
When Boissiere arrived for pro ball, he quickly gained a piece of advice at the plate.
“One of the first things that the coaches told the whole group when we got here was, ‘When you get higher in the levels, you’re going to have to make certain swing changes,’” Boissiere, ranked as the Nats’ No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline, said at Minor League camp. “I was open to that.”
This offseason, the lefty revisited a leg kick he had tried implementing last year in Low-A. He had worked it into his swing during his second week in 2021, but when he didn’t see results that he had hoped for, Boissiere reverted back to his previous batting stance. When that approach still didn’t yield the production he was eyeing after three weeks, he gave the leg kick another go in the final week and saw the change pay off. He doubled in three of his last four games.
“I almost saw results immediately,” Boissiere said.
The motion wasn’t completely unfamiliar to Boissiere -- he had tried it during his standout career at Woodcrest Christian High School in Riverside, Calif. But making it part of his everyday approach would take some getting used to through the repetition of drills.
“When I first got here, when I was getting my foot down early, I’d tend to come out of my legs a lot and lunge at the ball a little bit,” Boissiere said. “So it was causing my head to move a lot, making that 90-miles-per-hour fastball look like 95 [mph]. It’s not that I wasn’t seeing the ball, it was that I was making it hard on myself.”
Boissiere hopes the adjustment will lead to more production at the plate. He is building off a 2021 season in which he slashed .200/.299/.294 with five doubles, one home run and 12 RBIs in 25 games with the Fredericksburg Nationals. That, paired with changes to his diet that have him feeling stronger and more flexible, has allowed him to look forward to his first full season of pro ball.
“I’ve always wanted to do [a leg kick], I just never knew how to do it, how to set it up with my swing,” Boissiere said. “I always used to be the guy that’d get his foot down early and try to hit the ball. But I feel my swing’s way more fluid, and it feels really good.”