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June 20, 2012 at 1:21 PM

For De La Cruz, batspeed brings power

Keury De La Cruz (Kelly O'Connor)
On this week’s SoxProspects.com podcast, SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Chris Mellen credited the surprising power numbers of Greenville outfielder Keury De La Cruz to his bat speed. During our trip south, Greenville hitting coach Darren Fenster said the 21-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic is “100-percent focused on his hands," and hones that batspeed each day in the cage.

“He’ll start with a tee right up six inches from his body, and he works on getting through the ball with his hands,” Fenster said. “Once we go front toss, where the ball’s coming in from the side, he’s working on his hands.”

Fenster said De La Cruz starts with his hands up close to his body, but at times he can be too focused on staying inside and not go with the pitch. At times, that can cause him to take more of an uppercut swing towards the ball, but Fenster said that none of his 11 home runs this season have been on uppercut swings.

“It’s a short and aggressive swing,” he said. “It’s not an all-out hell-hack, but he’s pretty good about being aggressive within the zone. He’s a guy who gets his money’s worth when he swings. I’d rather have to back off a guy and say not that much than tell him we need a little more in your swing. He takes in criticism very well. … He knows when he’s at his best that he’s short and simple.”

De La Cruz went on the disabled list earlier this month with a strained right hamstring, missing an opportunity to play in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday. In 56 games this year, De La Cruz has hit .325/.378/.571 with 11 home runs, five triples, and 45 RBI. He was riding an 11-game hitting streak before the injury sidelined him on June 8.

Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.