First-year Arizona Diamondbacks hitting coach Dave Magadan is just getting to know who he’s working with, but he’s already seen enough of third baseman Jake Lamb and shortstop Nick Ahmed to be impressed.
Magadan, who left the Texas Rangers to replace the departed Turner Ward in Arizona, told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM what promising tidbits he’s seen from the two infielders.
Magadan said Lamb, who slashed .263/.331/.386 in 2015, has “as good of power to the opposite field as guys I’ve seen.”
He added that Lamb need not worry so much about pitchers trying to expose his weaknesses. Instead, Magadan said, Lamb should focus on what he’s best at.
“You’re a really good hitter driving the ball to the middle of the field the other way,” Magadan said of Lamb. “You’re good enough to be able to react to the pitch at the inner-half of the plate. If he can stay healthy and continue to do the things that he showed today in spring training, I like his chances.”
Ahmed may have more competition at shortstop than Lamb does at third, especially after the team traded for Jean Segura.
While Ahmed put together a strong defensive season — he was fourth in MLB in defensive wins above replacement — he could secure himself as the starting shortstop with an improvement on his slash line of .226/.275/.359.
“I think with Nick, the sky’s the limit. He’s a tremendous, tremendous athlete. That athleticism, the more we can translate it to the plate, he’s got great hand-eye coordinating, I think he’s got a good idea of what he wants to do,” Magadan said. “I think it’s just a few minor adjustments that he needs to make. To me, he can be up there with the best shortstops in the game. He’s got some pop in his bat, he can run, he can bunt if he has to, he can bunt for a hit, he has to use all his options.”
Not hitting eighth, ahead of the D-backs pitchers, would help Ahmed see more regular pitching tactics, Magadan said (on a related note, Manager Chip Hale said that all his pitchers will likely bat eighth).
When it comes to the top of the order, Magadan’s job is a bit more simple.
Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock have done well for themselves before Magadan’s arrival, and he’s not looking to push any major changes on the two All-Stars.
“I as a hitting coach have to understand what makes them tick,” he said of his role. “It’s my job to keep them in that lane. As soon as they get outside of what they do well at the plate, that’s when I as a hitting coach go up and now we corral them in the lane we want them to be in.”