There may not be anybody that knows the swing of Cougars third baseman Jeimer Candelario better than hitting coach Tom Beyers.
Beyers worked with Candelario at short-season Class A Boise in 2012 and all of last season in Kane County. When the 20-year-old struggled to a .193 average at high-Class A Daytona through 62 games this year, Candelario was sent back down, and Beyers saw a different hitter than he was used to.
“One of the things was him not taking advantage of pitches to hit,” Beyers said. “He was at the point where he was taking pitches instead of anticipating his pitches. We changed his mindset to a more aggressive approach.
“We want him to be selectively aggressive, but that selective part means you’re looking for your pitch first and taking off of that. He went the other direction. It’s a combination of those things and then confidence. A lot of young hitters lose confidence.”
The Cubs have been aggressive in promoting Candelario throughout his career. He is routinely one of the youngest players in whatever league he plays in. When the struggles started in the Florida State League this year, and continued the first couple of weeks he was back in Kane County, Cougars manager Mark Johnson thinks that led to Candelario pressing.
“He was lacking confidence and it kind of snowballed,” Johnson said. “Now he has more confidence. His demeanor and his lack of confidence, it was different. It was more mental than it was technical. He was trying to get four hits every at-bat.”
After a couple of weeks working with a familiar voice in Beyers, the light has turned on for Candelario of late. He is hitting .313 in 13 July games, including .389 in his last 10 games. He had six multihit games in that stretch, punctuated by his pair of home runs in the second half of Sunday’s doubleheader with Beloit. That included a monstrous walk-off home run. He was named the Midwest League Player of the Week for his efforts.
“Oh yeah, because he knows me a lot,” Candelario said of his excitement to be working with Beyers again. “He knows what I have to do. I just try to work hard, come out in the cage and really concentrate and hit the ball well. We work on a lot of drills and they help me.”
Candelario has a .463 on-base percentage and a .778 slugging percentage in the past 10 games, with only four strikeouts. Beyers knows that is because Candelario is applying what they’re working on out on the field.
And he knows that in this case, maybe a demotion wasn’t the worst thing to happen to Candelario.
“He’s been challenged with the level he’s played at,” Beyers said. “He has a little bit more to work on because of what he’s seen in Daytona. He could see what he had to work on. Even though he had to come down, you have to look at the positives. He got to see some of the things that are going on up there.”Tags: Baseball, Kane County Cougars