Poised for a climb in his third minor-league season, Houston Astros prospect Luke Berryhill regressed offensively in 2022. Appearing in a career-high 96 games between for the Corpus Christi Hooks, Berryhill’s slashline flashed a significant dip in slugging percentage.
After drawing a .561 clip across three leagues in 2021, the catcher posted a .408 slugging percentage in a full Double-A season. The 24-year-old righty quickly rose in his first year in the Astros system, but as he enters his fourth, his approach at the plate will look different.
“I’m essentially trying to imitate Barry Bonds in a lot of ways,” Berryhill said. “Trying to keep my weight back as far as I can and get maximum separation between my hips and torso.”
Drawing information from Teacherman — a hitting program that duplicates the best swings in the history of the sport — and his hitting coach, Berryhill found a way to start his swing deeper. Through this process of turning the barrel with his hands, his swing crossed through the plane earlier than in recent seasons.
“Once I started getting comfortable with these changes, my average exit velocities seemed to have jumped close to 10 mph.” Berryhill said. “I have been barreling the ball much more consistently as well. I feel so much quicker and can catch the ball deeper, so I have more time to make better swing decisions. Since I’m staying back more and am able to start my swing deeper, that helps catch the ball on the upswing more often.
Experimenting with different stances through Teacherman, Berryhill toyed with similar stances to Bonds and Aaron Judge. He landed on a mirrored stance to that of Bonds — one simpler and more compact. Through these changes, the excitement is growing for Berryhill to face live pitching this spring.
Berryhill received a non-roster invitation to Major League spring training last month, along with non-40-man roster backstops C.J. Stubbs and Cesar Salazar, a second-time invitee. While Yainer Díaz and Korey Lee battle for the backup catcher position, Berryhill will enter camp to prove he’s ready for a jump to Triple-A.
If Michael Brantley isn’t ready by Opening Day, then both Lee and Díaz will likely start the season on the 26-man roster, increasing Berryhill’s chances of starting 2023 in Sugar Land with Salazar, who made stops in Triple-A the last two seasons.
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