Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Alek Thomas riding unique swing to early success in majors

·4 min read
Alek Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Miami Marlins during the second inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on May 09, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Alek Thomas #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Miami Marlins during the second inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on May 09, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona.

LOS ANGELES — Alek Thomas lifted his leg, pumped his hands and unleashed his swing, turning on a hanging curveball in the seventh inning on Tuesday. He launched it over the right-center field wall for his second home run since being promoted from the minors last week.

Like all of Thomas’ swings, it was uniquely his — and it incorporated moves that most hitting coaches would be hesitant to teach. While Diamondbacks hitting coach Joe Mather is no different in that sense, he is not about to ask Thomas to make any changes.

“It feels like there’s a lot going on,” Mather said. “But when it’s always been followed by production, you have to let him play it out. There have been a lot crazier stances and moves from Hall of Famers. There is a lot going on, but basically all that is for him is just setting him up to be in position to hit the ball.”

Thomas’ leg kick is pronounced. His hands are active, moving up and down as the pitcher begins his delivery. His head also moves laterally more than some hitting coaches would prefer.

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Over the years, his swing movements have caused some rival scouts to remain guarded in their projections about Thomas, particularly when it comes to his ability to hit left-handed pitching. And yet Thomas did nothing but hit throughout his minor league career, though his results against lefties were somewhat mixed.

Mather noted that Thomas looks much the same as he did when the Diamondbacks drafted him out of a Chicago area high school in the second round in 2018. Back then, Mather was the Diamondbacks’ minor league hitting coordinator, and he said even then he was never tempted to suggest changes.

“It’s not how you would start a lesson when you are giving a lesson, like, ‘Hey, try this,’” Mather said. “It’s different. It works. In that sense, I have no issue with it.”

Entering Tuesday night, Thomas was 8 for 27 (.296) with three doubles and two homers through nine games.

Perdomo’s improvement

With Nick Ahmed’s placement on the injured list on Monday, rookie Geraldo Perdomo has been thrust back into a more prominent role. It seems to be coming at a good time.

Perdomo entered this week’s series at Dodger Stadium with his average over .200 for the first time all season thanks to a solid two-week stretch, a run that Mather attributes to Perdomo’s “blood-pressure lowering” as he has grown more comfortable in his role.

“I think with Nick on the shelf early,” Mather said, “(Perdomo) always had that in the back of his mind: ‘Nick is going to come back. Nick is our shortstop.’ He’s kind of let that go. He’s a part of this team and he helps us win games, one way or another.”

Perdomo stuck with the team even after Ahmed returned from the injured list, settling into a backup infielder role in which he has been starting on a semi-regular basis.

He entered Tuesday hitting .286 with a .375 on-base in 17 games dating to April 21.

“I’m just trying to keep the ball in the middle of the field,” Perdomo said. “I’ve been working hard on my approach and my timing and my rhythm. I feel a little bit more confident right now, too.”

He said he also has been working to make an adjustment in the way he holds his bat before a pitch is delivered. He said he could sometimes upset his timing with the way he wiggles his bat, so he is trying to keep the bat mostly still as he awaits a pitch.

“I think that’s part of the key for me right now,” he said. “I’m trying to be quieter and in good position with my hands.”

Arizona Diamondbacks' David Peralta goes down after fouling a ball off his foot during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Arizona Diamondbacks' David Peralta goes down after fouling a ball off his foot during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Short hops

—Second baseman Ketel Marte was scratched from the Diamondbacks’ Game 2 lineup with left hand soreness, a team official said. The injury is said to be minor. He is considered day-to-day.

—The Diamondbacks placed right-hander Keynan Middleton on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. Right-hander Edwin Uceta was recalled from the taxi squad. Middleton had allowed two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. Uceta has allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings with the Diamondbacks during a previous stint in the majors in April.

—Left fielder David Peralta fouled a ball off his back leg for the second time in the past three weeks and was in pain during his eighth-inning at-bat Tuesday afternoon, but he said between games that he was not seriously hurt.

—Right-hander Jacob Webb and infielder Yonny Hernandez had lockers in the clubhouse on Tuesday, indicating they had been added to the taxi squad. Webb, whom the Diamondbacks claimed off waivers from the Atlanta Braves last month, has pitched to a 12.46 ERA in 4 1/3 innings with Triple-A Reno. Hernandez went 2 for 16 with two walks during a stint with the Diamondbacks last month and hit .313 with Reno since his demotion.

Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or nick.piecoro@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Diamondbacks’ Thomas riding unique swing to early success in majors