Hometown: Penfield, NY
Greg Cullen, junior shortstop for Niagara University, just finished a monumental season and was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Baseball Player of the Year.
Cullen led the nation in hitting for nearly the entire 2018 regular season, finishing with a career-best .458 batting average. He attributes much of his offensive growth to the work he put in with Coach James Fort at WNY Strike Zone in Niagra Falls, NY where he utilized HitTrax to implement swing adjustments and to harness his power.
During the 2017, Cullen batted .341 with a SLG% of .451. His approach to hitting had been to focus on simply trying to make good contact, but he knew he was capable of more. Leading into the 2018 season, Cullen set his sights on optimizing his launch angles and also increasing his power when hitting to the opposite field. Addressing these two factors would make him a much more dangerous force at the plate.
During the offseason he focused on small adjustments to his swing plane, and used the immediate feedback from HitTrax to validate the results. This led to an overall decrease in ground balls, while hitting with power to both sides of the field – an overall increase in his average exit velo of 7mph.
“I focused on not hitting to the back of the cage or L-Screen, but instead working to elevate and hit the top of the cage, and trying to drive the balls to the left center gap,” Cullen said. “I have always been a good contact hitter, but my power numbers have never been there until this year. HitTrax helped me unleash my power, and create good swings in advantage counts to consistently drive balls in the gap,”
This approach paid off as both his SLG% and OB% increased significantly. Greg ended the 2018 season first in the MAAC and second in the nation in on-base percentage (.549), and led the MAAC in hits with 81 and in runs scored with 51.
The future is certainly bright for Cullen, as he was not only named MAAC Player of the Year and is a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, which is presented to a top collegiate baseball player by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), and was recently selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 2018 draft.