Behind-the-scenes look at Lavigne's swing work
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – As a high school player from New Hampshire, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone had Grant Lavigne, the Rockies’ selection in the Competitive Balance Round A of the 2018 Draft, struggled with the transition to pro ball.
Instead, the Rockies’ No. 5 prospect was a Pioneer League All-Star, finishing with a .350/.477/.519 line. He led the rookie-level circuit in on-base percentage and finished third in OPS and fourth in batting average. He walked more than he struck out during his debut.
Lavigne’s feel for hitting belies his years and the fact he hails from a cold-weather state. It’s also why he knew he still had plenty to work on after his outstanding first summer of pro ball. He spent the offseason working on his hitting deficiencies and continues that work this spring as he prepares for his first full season.
Lavigne is a left-handed hitter, but a right-handed thrower, so his back arm is his weak one. He does regular work, taking one-handed swings off the tee, to help offset that weakness.
Getting long with your swing is something that can afflict all hitters, especially ones who are 6-foot-4 and have power, like Lavigne. So he does a split-grip drill to be quick to the ball and to make sure he keeps his barrel where it needs to be.
As more hitters use launch angle in their swings, pitchers are adjusting by coming up in the zone with fastballs. Lavigne has a drill for that, too.
Lavigne then goes from tee work to front toss. Like with the split grip, he stops his swing to make sure his barrel stays behind his hands and doesn’t pull off the ball.
If Lavigne had a weakness during his pro debut, it was facing tough left-handed pitching. Though he still hit .324 against lefties, his OPS (.896) was much lower than it was against right-handers (1.014), with nearly all of his power numbers coming against righties. The Rockies showed him heat maps against lefties, which made him realize what he needed to work on.
To do this, Lavigne often used a machine that simulated left-handed pitching, or as in the case of this final clip, had someone feed him front tosses at an angle to help him get to his power against lefties.