Meet the 2021 Hops Coaching Staff: Batting Coach K.C. Judge
K.C. Judge never quits. That admirable trait is why he has succeeded. Not drafted in pros. Lightly recruited out of high school. Judge found other paths to reach where he dreamed of playing. Sometimes it was by finding a lesser used path. Other times, it was blazing his own trail.
Graduating from Chaparral High School in Las Vegas in 2006, the path to professional baseball was there. Eleven Cowboys had played ball there and were drafted by a major league team out of high school. KC Judge wasn’t one of them.
Not too many colleges were interested in KC as a ball player. But, Judge only needed one opportunity. Of the few that made their interest known, KC chose Taft Junior College out of Taft, California and became a Cougar for two years. “Taft college provided for me the opportunity to continue playing baseball,” said Judge. “Out of high school, I wasn’t heavily recruited. When I visited Taft College, I knew that it was a place I’d get a shot to play at as a true freshman with hopes of getting to play at a four-year school thereafter.” As quoted from the Taft College website.
KC Judge Looks to the Pros
KC’s years at Taft led him to a visit with California Lutheran University where he spent three
years (2009-2011), one of which was a medical redshirt year. The other two years, he played infield, started 38 games for the Kingsmen and was named a pre-season All-American at the D3 level in 2011. When KC graduated, the narrow path was already made. In its history, PLU had two baseball alumni drafted by a major league team. KC Judge wasn’t one of them.
However, KC wasn’t standing idly by when not playing baseball. His years in college gave him a chance to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and Kinesiology (sports medicine) graduating with a 3.2 GPA. With sheepskin in hand, KC decided to start two careers at the same time.
Two Roads at Once
First, he tried his true dream, being a professional baseball player. His professional debut was as a San Angelo Colt in May, 2012. That two month stint was followed by experiences as an Abilene Prairie Dog, a Gary SouthShore RailCat, a Normal Cornbelter, a Schaumburg Boomer, a Sonoran Explorer, a Trinidad Trigger, an Amarillo Thunderhead and, finally, a Grand Prairie AirHog. All of that in the Independent Leagues and squeezed between May, 2012 and September, 2015.
His second career, the one that led him to the Hops today, started that same year. During the offseason between the Shaumburg Boomers and the Sonoran Explorers, KC spent two months with Collegiate Sports of America (CSA) as a recruiter helping high school baseball players find a place at the collegiate level. KC also spent seven months with Philippi Sports Institute as a performance coach with a focus on the high school and collegiate levels. The true beginning of his career as a hitting coach.
The following two offseasons, 2013-2015, KC worked for the Tim Soder Physical Therapy Sports and Wellness as the Head Assistant Trainer. There he worked with major and minor league professional players ranging from a prospect to an MVP. After that, it became apparent that his playing choices were dwindling. At the same time, his options as a trainer were growing. Little did he know, it would also involve coaching at the professional level and his first contract with a major league team down the road.
In 2015, KC took on a job with ITS Baseball, LLC as the Head of Athletic Performance. A job that would carry him into 2017 while working with players in MLB/MiLB along with Top 25 programs at the collegiate level. It is also where he started capitalizing on his degree by working on movement patterns with a focus on bio-mechanical analysis. An attention to detail would propel KC even further.
Launch Angle Tee
In 2017, KC joined the ranks of the Baseball/Softball Rebellion as a Lead Hitting Instructor for the Titus Baseball Academy. You can see his swing on Youtube. There, KC was more than a baseball coach. He was also a businessman working with new clients and keeping track of all revenue turning remote locations profitable within six months. It all would serve him well as he would also become an inventor.
During 2017, KC was the co-inventor of the Launch Angle Tee. This little device fits on the top of a normal batting tee and helps hitters develop their launch angle and deliver more power to their swing. In recent years, the launch angle has become a hot statistic along with bat speed, launch speed and distance traveled. The new focus on statistics has taken the home run to new heights (and distances).
Diamondbacks Notice Next Hitting Coach
All of this has led to KC’s current position: that of hitting instructor for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. In 2019, KC signed his first contract with an MLB team and became the hitting instructor for the then Missoula Osprey. In 2020, KC jumped over the former short season A Hillsboro Hops to the Kane County Cougars as their hitting coach. The pandemic put that on hold. It didn’t stop KC from getting another promotion. This time to the now High A Hillsboro Hops. The Hops may have missed him the first time through but they get him the second time around.
Along the way, KC became a writer. Where he wrote articles about the cervical spine and how it works for and against the body’s swing or the danger of the false step in trying to steal second base.
Tools of the Trade
A short time ago, KC found himself looking for a path from high school or college. His destination still is the pro ranks. He took every road that could get him there. Including roads he built himself. Today, KC Judge is a rising star in the science of hitting mechanics. Some of the devices he uses today are:
The Hackmotion Sensor analyzes the wrist action during the swing of the bat in three different directions.
The 4D motion sensor records the movements of the batter’s chest and torso and calculates the launch speed of the swing, sending the data to the batter’s smartphone for review.
Kmotion 3D uses a vest to capture the motion of the torso.
There are many reasons for KC’s success through the years but I like a quote of his from Clusports to describe it best: “What lies before us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies inside us.”
Last minute note: Fans will Be Attending
Good news for the fans. The Hops have been cleared to allow a 25% capacity for the 2021 season opener. That percentage can go up or down depending on future changes to the Covid-19 restrictions. For now, expect a 25% limit until further notice. With current number of Covid-19 deaths reducing but new cases rising, it could go either way.
Normally, a good attendance is over 4000 fans so expect a little over 1000 fans per game. As of this writing, no word yet on how the tickets will be sold. How season ticket holders will be handled. Or how many non-season ticket buyers will have tickets for them to buy. If you have questions, the phone number to call the Hops about tickets is: 503-640-0887.