After discussing Brandon Belt's altered swing mechanics in detail with a scout who saw him play multiple times in college, I tracked Belt down at the Rising Stars Game to talk about his changes. Belt confirmed that the scout's report was accurate and filled in some gaps about how his transformation came about and what he's still ironing out.
Click here to listen to the audio file from the interview.
Adam Foster: So I've heard you've altered your swing quite a bit since you were in college. Can you tell me about some of the changes you've made?
Brandon Belt: In college I was a lot more squatty -- believe it or not. My hands were a lot lower and I was a lot more closed off. So pretty much as soon as I got in the [Giants] organization, they opened me up, they raised my hands, and they got me up out of the crouch just a little bit just so I could stay stacked in my upper body. And so far it's worked out pretty well for me.
AF: It has. So your front foot previously was almost up in the top right corner of the batter's box (from the pitcher's view); you were closed facing the third baseman?
AF: And now you're not quite open but you're a little more neutral?
BB: Right. Yeah and it helps just to get my hips rotated through the ball a lot better and definitely put some more power behind it. But you know sometimes I still get closed out a bit. I still have those bad habits of getting closed off sometimes but I definitely think it's gonna be a lot better in the long run.
AF: I've talked to people who say they see more bat speed out of you now that you have that stance. Is that something that you feel too?
BB: Oh definitely. And, you know, it's a tribute to pretty much all our hitting coaches in the organization. They just help me with so many different things, as far as my load and gettin' my hips through the ball. It's definitely helped with my bat speed.
AF: And how was that initially brought up, the suggestions for those changes?
BB: Well, I think just lookin' at me, you knew there was gonna have to be some changes made. I think [the Giants] knew that when they drafted me. And I knew that as soon as I got into professional ball something was gonna have to change because I needed to shorten my swing up to get to the people that throw a lot harder. So I think that's probably what brought it up, just to shorten the swing up and get some more bat speed.
AF: And you were twice drafted as a pitcher, right?
AF: Did you experiment with any different batting stances previously in college or you just found something that seemed OK and rolled with it?
BB: I really never had any hitting instruction before -- in-depth hitting instruction -- so I didn't know. I was just out there trying to hit the ball; put the bat on the ball. I just try to find ways to put the bat on the ball. That's how I got into the stance. But fortunately I got with some very good hitting instructors [with the Giants] and hopefully we can just keep building off this season.
AF: It's amazing too, seeing someone who had the kind of success you had this season remain so humble. It's gotta be kind of almost surprising that you were able to make those changes and here you are playing in the Rising Stars Game at this point.
BB: I know, it's really and honor. I'm just very happy. I didn't know how fast I'd be able to adjust to these new mechanics. But like I said, we have some of the best hitting coaches and they really helped me out throughout the entire year. Even when stuff was going bad, I just kept faith. And it all worked out for me in the end.
AF: Are there any other changes you're going make to your swing?
BB: I'm always makin' little minor changes in my swing even throughout the year. So I'm sure there's gonna be minor adjustments. It just depends on where the pitchers are throwin' me, honestly. If they're stayin' away from me, I'll change a little bit; if they're throwin' me in, I'll change there. So it just depends on what they're doing sometimes.
AF: It's gotta be a bit of a difference, if you were closed before, it probably made it easy to get to the outside pitch.
AF: Is that something you're makin' adjustments with now?
BB: I'd still like to be able to get to the outside pitch. That's still one of my main goals because that's where a lot of the pitchers live, is on the outside corner. So I feel like if I'm able to get to the outside pitch, I can cover a lot more of the plate. And with the adjustments to my swing, I'm still able to get into the inside ones...most of the time. If they're up and in, it's real hard for me, but if they're down and in, I can get to it.
For more information on Belt's swing, I recommend checking out Jason Grey's piece on him from last month (ESPN subscriber content).