Cam Clayton, Shortstop,
Washington shortstop Cam Clayton came to Driveline because he wanted a 150-point inspection of his swing.
He had hit well in his freshman season for the Huskies, starting all 56 games and hitting .280. He didn’t hit for a lot of power though, with just four home runs, seven doubles and an OPS of .723.
Driveline hitting trainer Maxx Garrett, serving as the mechanic for the inspection, found the issue in the first assessment – a negative attack angle that didn’t allow Clayton’s bat to stay in the zone for very long.
Clayton on July 18, 2022
Clayton on December 12, 2022
“When he first assessed with us, he was very downhill with his swing,” Garrett said.
Basically, Clayton would lean back in his swing and push his hands through the zone instead of rotating his core through the swing. His raw, elite bat-to-ball skills had always allowed him to hit for a high average, but there was more pop to be unlocked in his swing.
The fix was a combination of things. One was a lot of work rotating between a heavy bat and light bat, so that Clayton could feel the strength of his core and get his bat through the zone quicker.
“The more that my core and my hips took over,” Clayton explained, “the more my attack angle started to fix itself because the barrel would more so fall into the zone rather than me forcing it in there.”
The other was a drill where Garrett placed a pitching machine offset toward the third base line, on Clayton’s closed side. With Clayton using a long bat, the machine threw him elevated breaking balls using Smash Factor Balls. The drill made him match planes with the pitch and work up to and through the ball, while the longer bat required him to work more out front.
It was a lightbulb moment for Clayton.
“I couldn’t grasp it at all, for like a week or two straight,” he said. “And then one day, we were just practicing and I felt it and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And next thing you know, I was consistently hitting balls 100 mph right back up the middle at a high attack angle. That’s when I was like, this is a whole new realm.”
The newfound power carried into his sophomore season this spring. Clayton upped his batting average to .325, hit 11 home runs and 21 doubles, and improved his OPS by 215 points, all the way up to .938.
After his sophomore year was over, Clayton came back to Driveline to prepare for the MLB Draft Combine. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Clayton ranked as the No. 151 overall prospect according to MLB.com.
He decided not to play summer ball because the decision to train at Driveline last summer changed the trajectory of his career. He’s a much more dangerous hitter all over the zone now, something he proved to MLB organizations this spring at Washington.
“If you look at the chart of where all my home runs were my freshman year, they were all up and in, because that was the only pitch I was able to actually lift,” Clayton said. “If you look at my chart this year, I have balls all over the zone for home runs.”