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A very different Colby Rasmus coming in 2011?

The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly remaking Colby Rasmus into a 175-pound opposite-field slash-and-run hitter.

Last time, I presented a potential batting order for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals based on the manager’s comments, past behavior and of course, supposition.

One key element around which I worked was the lineup placement of soon-to-be third-year player Colby Rasmus. This may have been the most debatable point in the discussion that followed. My thought process placed the centerfielder in the second spot, while a number of others see him more appropriately batting sixth or seventh.

Part of what guided me to consider Rasmus in the number two hole was awareness of a change in his hitting approach currently underway. While hitting style is not hard-wired to one’s spot in the order, think about it in the context of what follows and draw your own conclusion.

Colby’s father, RCWarrior, shared some of the specifics here at The Cardinal Nation Blog the other day. All the quotes that follow are from Tony Rasmus, a successful high school baseball coach in Alabama.

“Colby has been working on spraying the ball around the field this offseason via the Big Mac approach. Hasn’t been lifting since the plan is to be a slap hitter so there is no need for the added muscle. The goal I hear is to hit .300 and hit more ground balls and line drives the other way.”

Since becoming a professional in 2005, Rasmus has hit .300 just once, in Single-A ball in 2006. The left-handed hitter was a career .277 batter in the minor leagues and posted a .251 average in his rookie season with St. Louis, followed by a .276 mark in 2010.

He’s always gotten on base, with a career minor league OBP of .366. He slipped to .307 in his rookie season before improving to .361 in 2010.

More from RCWarrior.

“… I’m curious to see this new hitting style at work. What they’re telling me is Colby most likely won’t hit 10 jacks this year but will be more consistent. I’m told that he will look alot like Jon Jay without all the pre swing motion. More like the Skip (Schumaker) and Jay stuff to left field. IT will be curious to watch.”

In 2007 with Double-A Springfield, Rasmus clubbed a system-high 29 home runs and hit a total of 39 in his initial pair of seasons as a big-leaguer, including 23 in 2010.

In case it wasn’t clear, this change is apparently a long-standing wish from the coaching staff.

“Its what Tony (La Russa) has wanted him to do evidently for the last few years. Stop trying to pull the ball and be more like Skip with the other way stuff and working on hitting more ground balls. It is interesting to hear him say he is supposed to inside out everything and hit 80 % of all balls to the left side. Its the one handed swing that Brendan (Ryan) was working on last year. I haven’t watched him hit he has just been telling me about it.”

A lighter, more agile Rasmus will debut next spring.

“…he is on the Cardinals program this year and thats what they want him working on. He’s always lifted with our team as we are a big believer in lifting weights but this year with the different hitting approach they don’t want him too muscled up.

“The example I was given was they want him to be loose like Rod Carew used to be with the hands and slap those singles past the third baseman. He was joking yesterday that it was gonna be a learning experience this year, hopefully not as painful as was Skip and Brendan’s was last year when they tried the Big Mac hitting style.

“He weighed in yesterday at 180 lbs and is running 5 miles a day trying to get quicker and lose a little more. Wants to be at 175 by spring training. He is working the abs but nothing else in the weight room. Gonna try to be a Brett Gardner slap it and run. I believe he was 205-210 at the start of spring training last year so he will be a different player this year thats for sure.”

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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