First Pitch: Ke’Bryan Hayes Greatest Hits

If there’s going to be one saving grace in watching the Pirates over their final 20+ games of the season, it will be watching Ke’Bryan Hayes.

The top prospect made his MLB debut last night, going 2-for-5 with his first home run, along with an exciting play at the plate. Let’s re-live some of those highlights this morning.

I love the quick, compact swing here, catching the ball out in front of the plate on the upswing, but still managing to turn his body for the inside pitch in the process. Watching it in real time, from behind the mound, you can see a quick rotation of his hips after his lead foot hits the ground, with his top half following through with the momentum to the inside, giving some nice, easy pull power on the line drive.

The lesson here is: Don’t leave a fat, 87 MPH pitch out over the middle of the plate for Ke’Bryan Hayes. If you watch this one, compared to the double, you’ll see that Hayes stays pretty consistent with his lower half. The lead foot is planted straight to the pitcher, and the open stance allows him to adjust the upper half. He turned on the inside pitch, but stayed a bit more open against the pitch over the middle of the plate. Hayes has more of a line drive swing, with not a lot of lift out in front, but that works for him here as he gets under the pitch with a quick swing, generating his power from the lower half.

This all would have made for a great debut. And then…

Backstory for those who don’t remember: Hayes went down with a cracked rib at the end of the 2016 season. He lost a lot of muscle heading into 2017, and was much lighter. He didn’t hit for power in Bradenton that year, but stole 27 bases in 32 attempts. Hayes has speed that tops out at above-average, although he’s a smart and efficient base runner. Since adding weight back to his frame, he has still managed to go 25-for-31 in stolen bases between 2018 and 2019, including 13-for-14 last year.

Hayes is going to be exciting. He’s probably one of the best defensive third basemen in the league already. He’s got a compact, line drive stroke with pull power to the biggest parts of PNC Park. He can add value on the bases with his speed. He also should hit for some power, and I can see more coming later in his career as he adds more strength.

It’s going to be fun watching Hayes the rest of the year.

The 2020 Prospect Guide returns to print for our tenth anniversary! This year we are releasing three variant covers, featuring Mitch Keller, Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Oneil Cruz. Visit our shop page to order these extremely limited items!


First Pitch