Funny how only baseball parents, coaches, and bat company salespersons will know what the title of this article means. Just like if I had said “Blue Combat,” “Red Stealth,” or “Red Omen.” These bats were all the rage on the little field for their huge sweet spots, extended barrels, and moon-shot trampoline effects. However when transitioning to the big field, the choice of bat becomes more important for developmental reasons rather than for trophy-chasing reasons!
What Does Drop Mean?
The definition of “Drop” in baseball-bat terms is the difference between the length and weight of a bat. So if a 30-inch bat weighs 20 ounces, then that bat is said to be a Drop-10. A 32-inch bat that weighs 29 ounces is said to be a Drop-3.
Big Field Transition
Transitioning to the “big field” was an awesome experience for my son thanks to a phenomenal coach who was a former MLB pitcher with no son on the team or crazy agenda, other than a laser-focused passion for player development. But he had some rules that, for the non-baseball parent like myself, appeared to disadvantage the team. It wasn’t until the wood bat tournaments in 14u and 15u that I realized why his rules actually made sense from a player development standpoint.
Rule #1: 13u Players Will Use a Drop-5 Bat
To help my son prepare for the tryout to make this particular 13u travel team, I bought him a 31 inch, 26 ounce, 2 5/8″ barrel size, Easton XL3 aluminum one piece about three months prior to the tryout. I still have it and it will become his younger brother’s bat in about six months when he starts working on the big field. Interestingly, other 13u teams transitioned to a Drop-7, and some even continued to use their Drop-10’s. We certainly got burned by some of these team. It was actually better to play up into 14u because they were using the Drop-5 or 3 and it evened things out a bit.
Rule #2: 14u Players Will Use a Drop-3 Bat
I believe we went with an Easton Mako 30-inch, 27-ounce BBCOR bat to start out his 14u season.
Why the Rules?
- With the mound now being 60’6″ away from home plate, the pitching in 13u and even 14u seem really slow to the batters. Take advantage of this perception to make a larger initial jump to Drop-5.
- Moving to a Drop-3 at the beginning of 14u will give your player almost a full year to build a comfort level with the BBCOR before heading into the high school tryouts. This will give your son an advantage over those who just made the transition a couple months before high school tryouts.
- Wood bat tournaments start in 14u but really gear up for the important 15u showcase/tournaments. The longer your player has been swinging a Drop-3 BBCOR bat, the easier it is to transition to a Drop-3 wood bat. And believe it or not, most of the serious fall and summer tournaments at 15u are wood bat, not BBCOR.