They'll talk to a player about his stance, or when he digs in to swing, or where he digs in. Sometimes the player will just share how he felt inside the batter's box the night before. For Castro, who signed with the Phillies in 2007, three weeks after his 18th birthday, these sessions with Cacciatore are a sliver of higher education.
"He's like a college senior," Cacciatore said, "playing double-A baseball."
After a month of hacking in pursuit of sliders and splitters and breaking balls, Castro is setting the curve in the swing program.
He hit .214 in April before learning to stoop into his stance sooner. He also streamlined his swing.
Castro's batting average climbed 57 points in May, then another 37 points in June. Now, he ranks third on the team with a .307 average, and he has hit 26 doubles (tops in the Eastern League) and six home runs.
Castro said he recognizes breaking balls better than he did at the beginning of the season because Cacciatore refined his approach.
Castro was slow to set up his stance. So slow, Cacciatore said, that he often didn't watch the ball zip out of the pitcher's hand. And because he didn't see the pitch at the start of those 60 feet, 6 inches between the mound and the plate, Castro couldn't read the ball's spin. And because he couldn't read the ball's spin, he didn't know whether the pitch would break. And because he didn't know the breaking balls would break, he whiffed.
He had another problem, too. Castro, who grew up in La Romana, Dominican Republic, idolizes Sammy Sosa, and it showed in his stance. The bounce-bounce-bounce as he waited for his next pitch, the theatrical leg kick as he cocked his bat - classic Sammy, both.
But Castro isn't Sosa, and the leg kick stunted his swing. Sometimes, Castro swung too late. Other times, when he attacked at the right moment, he connected while his left leg dangled a foot or two above the dirt, draining his power. Pitchers sneaked mistakes past him. Doubles and home runs became infield dribblers and foul balls.
So, with Cacciatore's help, Castro shed the leg kick.
"I've been trying to take less hard swings," Castro said through a translator. "As I've been able to do that, I've been able to get more hits. And also, home runs have come."
Cacciatore considers his work art. Concerning a swing, no perfect answer exists. No wrong one, either. A different rhythm flows through every hitter. And while the leg kick matched Sosa's rhythm, it didn't work for Castro. For Castro, Cacciatore said, the kick was "fluff."
Castro's problem is common among baseball players or any other people his age. Young people imitate those they idolize, Cacciatore said, hoping to follow a blueprint, but the approach doesn't work. Life isn't science. Instead, you must learn what works for you and what doesn't.
"We all go through that," Cacciatore said. "It's fun watching guys start to mature as their own man and their own hitter."
Castro isn't yet ready for a big-league performance. Not close. At times, his swing betrays him and reverts back to something wild, Cacciatore said. He needs to show he can stay consistent, can extend the last couple of months over the course of a full season. And he needs to show he can perform at the next level: triple A.
But without the leg kick, and with a more disciplined setup prior to each pitch, Castro has made solid contact more often. That's what makes him special, Cacciatore said. Certain players seem able to put the barrel of the bat on any pitch, out of instinct, out of an innate "feel" for the ball's location. Sometimes, Castro can't explain it.
That, Cacciatore said, can't be taught: It's improv, it's jazz, it's art. But even some naturals need pruning.
Even some artists need art school.
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Contact Tyler Jett at 215-854-4550 or email@example.com.