The youth bat market, as you may have noticed, has recently exploded with a need for light swinging wood bats. Regulations on metal bats and the desire to swing the same stick as the big boys is pushing the trend.
The problem with this demand, however, is light swinging wood bats–what little leaguers need–suffer from durability issues. In fact, there are few companies that even offer anything more than a drop 5 wood bat (a drop 5 refers to the difference between weight and length). Those who want a wood bat, then, are forced to drop the length of the bat down to 28 or 27 inches and still be stuck with a 22 or 23 ounce bat. As a result, most searches for a wood bat end with a metal bat where weight and size relationships are more manageable.
But there are a couple companies out there making a true drop 10 and drop 7 youth wood bat. One of these is the Italian company MINE bats.
Unconvinced that a wood bat with a drop weight of 7 or 10 was able to stand up to the pressure, I acquired a drop 7 and drop 10 youth MINE bat, and took this bat from Italy, which is more known for its cars, out for a spin. My boys hit about 500 times on the Jesolo 28/18 drop 10 bat with the machine set at 60mph. After 500 hits the bats looked as solid as new.
In the name of science, my plan was to see if I could break the drop 7 Black Rimini. (Not break-in, I mean actually break it). I turned the machine up to 90mph, grabbed the sleek black bat and stepped in the box. If you’ve yet to hold a MINE bat in your hands you have missed out on an experience. These bats have every feel of something you’d expect to be branded as Italian made. The finish is smooth like the stock of a well made rifle. The 30/23 drop 7 Rimini feels quite balanced with a swing weight (and confirmed with a measurement) like the 2015 CF7 from DeMarini in a 31 inch drop 9 2 1/4.
I took about 150 hacks with just about everything I could muster on the 30 inch 23 ounce Black Rimini drop 7. Here is what the bat looked like after I went to town on it:
The Black Rimini didn’t break. In fact, and I realize this is an odd statement, I actually felt like the bat got a bit hotter as the 150 or so pitches came to the plate.
The durability, in other words, was fantastic. And for a pretty husky adult male to drop a hundred plus bombs with a drop 7 wood bat, no damage done? I’d say I walked away impressed.
Should I Get This Wood Bat Instead of a Metal Bat?
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, you do clearly lose some things when using a wood bat–high end wood as it may be. Two things in particular come to mind.
- The first is batted ball speed. Wood, at least at the youth level, will never be able to recreate the trampoline effect high end composite or aluminum bats will. I didn’t expect the MINE bat to do that and I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t. It had good pop for sure, but it was not the pop of a high end aluminum or composite bat. Anyone purchasing this bat (or any wood bat) thinking the pop will be better or even as good as metal does not have the right information.
- Some currently make the argument that a HighSchool BBCOR bat is restricted to hit the ball like a wood bat therefore a wood bat is the same as a metal BBCOR bat. This isn’t completely true and brings us to the second thing you lose out on with a wood bat over metal: The size of the sweet spot. A BBCOR .50 bat is indeed only allowed to have a trampoline effect similar to a good wood bat, but the composite and aluminum design allows engineers to increase the sweet spot size of a metal bat to several times the size of a wood bat.
However, even with that said, there are a lot of good things to be said about swinging a wood bat at both high school and youth levels. Foremost is getting quality at bats with a wood bat at the plate or in the cage makes you a better hitter. Getting better at hitting with a wood bat makes you a better metal bat hitter. The opposite, however, is NOT the case: improved skill hitting metal does not necessarily mean you are improving your wood bat game. The precision required to hit wood is finer than the skill associated with hitting metal.As a result, and at a minimum, I’d suggest most little guys serious about getting great at baseball begin early taking hacks with a wood bat. Do they take it to the plate during a game? That will be up to you, but having one in your repertoire for batting practice is, in our opinion, a must.
We would recommend the MINE wood Youth Bat to those hitters who: Want a light swinging wood bat; Need a wood bat for a certain league; Need a durable wood bat for either in game or batting practice.
We would NOT recommend the MINE wood youth bat to those hitters who: are allowed to swing metal in game and need or want the extra batted ball speed. However, even under those circumstances, we’d suggest getting some cuts in with wood occasionally. The MINE bat, at a drop 10, now makes it possible for just about any player at any level.