We’ve now spent nearly countless hours in the cage hitting with Marucci’s youth single billet wood bat line. The youth versions of the Chase Utley 26, Albert Pujols 5 and Jose Bautista 19 were among our weapons of choice. We also spent a considerable amount of time (2+ hours) reading online reviews of youth wood bats of all makes and models in comparison to Marucci’s youth bat line. With that experience and background, we believe the Chase Utley 26 (Amazon for $69) to be the appropriate bat for most little league players looking to build strength and perfect their hitting in batting practice.
This conclusion wasn’t due to any inefficiencies in the AP5, JB19 or host of other little league youth bats we tried. Indeed, the call was rather close and we’d expect most would be perfectly happy with the AP5 youth barrel and the JB19 youth barrel. However, the CU26 gave a little more balance and barrel size when compared to others and, most importantly, got the best user experience reviews. The solid black look also tended to be more appreciated.
The bats are constructed just like the pro models in your choice of either ash or maple. All of them are bone rubbed (for hardness) and are made from a single piece of wood (called a billet). This single piece brings–especially with maple—the most power but also the most feedback in the hands. If hit correctly on the face grain (by making sure the label is up on contact) and avoiding sliders into the hands then these bats should last a long time. There is always, however, a real chance these bats can crack as a few unfortunate buyers learned very quickly.
These bats are sized from 26 inches to 31 inches long with a drop from 3 to 6. With a single billet of wood you can imagine it is much more difficult to pin down a weight to length ratio as wood doesn’t always cooperate like composite or aluminum. If you buy directly on the Marucci site you can specify where you’d like the drop (-3 through -6). You can also specify ash or maple. Do know, however, that the drop won’t be exact.
In the market there are only a handful of comparable bats which are also single piece billet, bone rubbed bats with outstanding quality wood in the youth space. Sam Bats (Amazon $79) makes a single piece maple bat we hope to review soon. Louisville Slugger also makes a list of wood youth bats (Amazon $19 to $49) but we’ve never quite been as impressed with the quality of construction in the youth market when compared with Marucci’s youth models. Maybe we, and the market, are fooled by the low price point of Slugger’s youth wood bats, but it sure feels like Marucci (and that Sam Bat) really make a pro version bat in simply a smaller size.
In general, we’d suggest any younger player who is very serious about being a better hitter consider putting a single piece billet bat in their repertoire of batting practice bats. Further, we’d caution against practicing hitting sliders towards the hands or high speed practice off a machine due to the real chance these bats can break.
Specifically, we’d recommend any of the Marucci youth pro model wood bats far and wide with special consideration of the Chase Utley 26. Our preference is maple although the ash versions may sting a bit less as the wood tends to be a bit more flexible.