Scott Pickler Explains Switch-Hitting Process

CERRITOS, Calif. — Skilled switch-hitters have always been a valuable commodity to baseball teams and have been a big part of college baseball for many years.

In 2019, catcher Adley Rutschman of Oregon St. put up incredible numbers for the Beavers (.411, 17 HR, 10 2B, 58 RBI ) as he was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of The Year and was the first player picked in the 2019 MLB Draft.

In 2000, third baseman Mark Teixeira of Georgia Tech. put up impressive numbers as a switch-hitter (.427, 18 HR, 21 2B, 80 RBI).

Three of the top Major League prospects in college baseball this season are elite switch-hitters.

Third baseman Jacob Berry of Louisiana St. turned in a monster freshman season at Arizona in 2021 as he was named a first team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and was one of five Freshmen National Players of The Year by CB.

The switch-hitter played in all 63 Wildcat contests with 62 starts.

He registered one of the greatest freshman campaigns in program history, hitting .352 with 17 homers, 19 doubles and 5 triples while recording 70 RBI.

He had a .676 slugging percentage and drew 33 walks for a .439 on-base percentage.

SS Brooks Lee of Cal Poly also had a remarkable season in 2021 as a switch-hitter as he hit .342 with 10 homers, 27 doubles and 57 RBI for the Mustangs.

Then during the past summer, he hit .405 for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League — the first player in 19 years to hit over .400 in a league comprised of college baseball’s elite players as he collected 6 home runs, 4 doubles and 13 RBI in 21 games.

University of Arizona catcher Daniel Susac is another great switch-hitter back this season.

He hit .335 with 12 homers, 24 doubles and 65 RBI for the Wildcats last season.

Elite Switch-Hitting Coach
One of the best coaches in college baseball history was Scott Pickler of Cypress College.

He transformed a number of one-side hitters into switch-hitters over a career which saw him lead Cypress to five California state titles and four runner-up finishes in posting a 981-493 record.

Over the years, he has worked with a number of terrific hitters, including Jason Bates, Augie Ojeda and Craig Kuzmic – all right-handed hitters initially – and made them into superb left-handed hitters as well.

Bates not only played for Cypress, but was a stellar shortstop for the University of Arizona and ultimately became a starter for the Colorado Rockies.

As a freshman, he hit .272 with 4 homers and a slugging percentage of .404. After learning to be a switch-hitter, he hit .388 his sophomore year with 7 homers, 12 doubles and a .574 slugging percentage.

Ojeda moved on to the University of Tennessee and played for the U.S. Olympic team. A gifted defensive shortstop, he became a threat at the plate after becoming a switch-hitter.

Another of Pickler’s pupils was Craig Kuzmic.

A year before he was transformed into a switch-hitter, he hit an anemic .257 with 5 homers, 7 doubles and 23 RBIs as a right-handed hitter.

The next season in 1997, he hit .411 with 15 homers, 19 doubles and 61 RBI.

How did Pickler teach players to switch-hit on the college level?

“Jason was the first player we ever attempted to turn around,” said Pickler.

“The key about each of these people was that all of them were very, very good athletes. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that they all were yard rats. It is crucial that they want to do it. Some other kids try it, but give up on it almost immediately.

“For every hour I tell them they have to hit on the field, they must put in an hour and a half to two hours of work on their own left-handed.”

Pickler said a steady progression takes place.

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb. 25, 2022 issue of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Scott Pickler explains the entire progression for training switch hitters.