Bat speed finally becomes a concrete stat; what does it show?

Bat speed has always been sort of a code word among baseball scouts.

What do you look for in a prospect? Bat speed.

How did they find players who swung the bat quickly? By watching hundreds of players every spring.

StatCast made the category a little more clear, offering a bat-speed metric for the first time this year. What does it show? Bat speed is indeed an important element, and the Cubs have two players near the top of the list.

The fastest bat in baseball, according to StatCast, belongs to Giancarlo Stanton, the muscular Yankees DH. Others in the top 20 are Aaron Judge, Oneil Cruz, Ronald Acuna, Julio Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson.

The next tier includes Mike Trout, Yordan Alvarez, Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero, Luis Robert Jr., Ryan Mountcastle. Bat speed does seem to be a valuable asset, especially among bigger, taller players.

Adjusted for fewer attempts, the No. 4 player on the list is Cubs minor-league outfielder Alexander Canario. Christopher Morel is 12th. Patrick Wisdom and Matt Mervis are the next highest-ranked Cubs.

Several players who began their careers with the Cubs are also high on the list — Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras. Jorge Soler.

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was asked this week how much emphasis he puts on bat speed.

“I think hitting is so unbelievably complicated and hard to evaluate,” he said. “Certainly in an ideal world, you want high bat speed. But you also want really good decision-making and your ability to square balls up at the right launch angles is unbelievably important too.

“There's so many different factors. Certainly bat speed's important, but also so much of hitting is the eyes, behind the eyes and it's hard to say any one measurable number is the answer. There's no the answer when it comes to hitting. It's really a complicated tapestry of things that are factored in.”

The study by DH Baseball Weekly came to these conclusions: Canario needs a longer stint in the majors to see what he can do, and Morel, with all the hitting bad luck this year, has the chance to be a special player.

Cannon shot fired:

Believe it or not, things are looking up for the White Sox, especially with the near-complete game thrown by rookie pitcher Jonathan Cannon this week.

Since coming back up from Charlotte this month, Cannon has allowed 1 earned run in 18⅔ innings. The 6-foot-6 Cannon was a third-round pick out of Georgia in 2022, and ranked just sixth on MLB Pipeline's list of White Sox pitching prospects.

Among some others, Drew Thorpe's low velocity is concerning, but he's made just two big-league starts. A former first-round pick from Oswego, 6-foot-9 lefty Noah Schultz has a 1.72 ERA in four starts in Double-A. A former Angels draft pick, 6-6 lefty Ky Bush has a 1.78 ERA in 12 Double-A starts.

If the Sox decide to keep Garrett Crochet, they could have an intimidating young rotation relatively soon.

Local roundup:

The latest local pitcher to be plucked from an independent minor-league roster is Neuqua Valley graduate Ricky Castro. The right-hander started three games with the Joliet Slammers, then was signed by the Minnesota Twins and is with their Single-A Fort Meyers team in the Florida State League. Castro, 24, played in college at Purdue and Tulane, joining Joliet last summer when the college season was over.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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