Sunday, August 14, 2022

How Tweaked Hitting Mechanics Could Unleash Narciso Crook’s Full Potential


When the Cubs put Jason Heyward on the 10-day injured list (IL), they called-up outfielder Narciso Crook from AAA Iowa. If you’re asking yourself, “who dat?” you’re not alone.

Crook was a 23rd-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2013. Born in the Dominican Republic, he moved stateside before attending Rowan College of South Jersey. Crook signed with the Cubs this offseason as a free agent.

Crook had decent statistics in the minors and spent parts of his last two professional seasons at AAA for the Reds. But Crooks never got the major league call-up.

What The Cubs Saw In Narciso Crook

A career minor leaguer, the Cubs saw something in Crook, signing him this offseason. According to The Athletic, the Cubs identified elite traits displayed by Crook, hoping that tweaks to his mechanics would unleash his full potential. The Cubs Director of Hitting Justin Stone revealed the teams’ plan this offseason with Crook:

“The way we look at hitting and performance with the Cubs is what we call our three pillars…That’s decision-making, the ability to make contact, and when a player does make contact, does he do damage. In two of those three pillars, Narciso was elite. He’s an elite decision-maker, and he does excessive damage when he hits the ball — just a really, really high exit velocity. Where he was lacking was the ability to make consistent contact.”

But how would the Cubs unlock Crook’s potential? It can’t be as easy as switching from Cincinnati Chili to Chicago Style Hot Dogs, can it? Stone explained further:

“His previous setup, the way that he would load allowed for a lot more swing-and-miss and maybe more mis-hits… he’d make contact, but he’d just clip balls, balls he should be doing damage on and mis-hitting them straight up or down…A complete upper-body overhaul and pattern change allows him to keep his barrel in the zone longer but also in a position that’s going to create more solid contact.”

Cubs Give Another Unproven Outfielder A Chance

Now in his 8th professional season, the 26-year-old finally made his major league debut this week with the Cubs — and to make it that much sweeter – it came against the Reds – the team that drafted him and spent his entire professional career up until 2022.

Crook didn’t waste the opportunity to face his former team.

Crook Trying To Make A Difference On and Off The Field

Crook making his major league debut in his 8th professional season and getting his first hit and RBI against the team that drafted him is a great story. For Crook, the game is more significant than just him. Crook happily signs when young fans ask for an autograph, but it comes with one stipulation.

Feel Good Story In The Outfield

For Crook, Cubs fans wish him nothing but the best, including many doubles, homers, and even a few outfield assists. Jason Heyward is statistically one of the worst offensive outfielders in Major League Baseball. The former All-Star is a shell of his former self at the plate. Even his 21-home run 2019 season is hard to see in the rear view mirror. My point is – best of luck to new major leaguer Narciso Crook. If he performs well, Crook’s cup of coffee may turn into an Airbnb summer rental on Sheffield and Waveland.

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