“It’s a completely different game. They want that extra experience. When scouts come out to games they want to see what they can do with a wood bat.”
– DuPage Drones’ General Manger Evan Gersonde
October 8, 2016
“Every opportunity to win is sacred.” – Theo Epstein
Back in early August WillCountyBaseball.org spent an evening talking and watching baseball out at the Village of Lisle – Benedictine University Sports Complex. The DuPage Drones were winding up their Prospect League schedule with a playoff push on a gorgeous summer night.
WCB.org had a great baseball conversation with DuPage Drones owner Josh Schaub and his front office team of General Manager Evan Gersonde and Assistant General Manager Aaron Graff. Listen to our conversations as you read about the Drones operation in the WCB.org exclusive: “Baseball is the lion show of the circus.” – DuPage Drones Owner Josh Schaub
DuPage Drones’ owner Josh Schaub talks about the passion of young baseball players in an excerpt from our August 3rd round table talk:
On a scorching September 19th afternoon WCB.org revisited the Drones’ front office team. Gersonde and Graff talked about making the sausage – and making some money – in a summer collegiate wood bat league.
Local players and parents can learn a lot from Gersonde and Graff about the machinations of the serious summer leagues many families will experience during a collegiate career.
The Drones and owner Josh Schaub are facing challenges on several fronts as they approach their second season. Their 2016 head coach, Joe Lincoln, took another position in the fluid market of coaches seeking professional experience. The action is fast and furious – on and off the field. Just like every summer team in the country Gersonde and Graff have to put together a roster.
Wood bat league players are college kids from across the country who will finish a grueling semester in May and a 50-60 game season in early June. They go home. They get a decent meal and do some laundry.
After a few days of rest they’re en route to a new baseball experience wearing a uniform that says DuPage Drones, Hannibal Cavemen, or Forest City Owls. It’s very real testimony to the dedication and effort so many baseball people make every summer.
The Quincy Gems board their bus for a night ride through northwestern Illinois.
The DuPage Drones are a fascinating study in the business of baseball. On the one hand the Prospect League is baseball that is played at its most serious level – when you consider the stakes for the players. On the other hand franchises in wood bat leagues are selling an accessible baseball experience.
So you have coaches and players with skin in the game on every pitch. And you have drones whizzing around the diamond, beer promotions, and 80s Night.
Owner Josh Schaub makes no bones about the pitch. Schaub, Gersonde, and Graff talked glowingly about the legendary Mike Veek and his minor league money machine the St. Paul Saints.
The baseball experience is genuine and fun. The baseball is serious, and the Prospect League is no joke. Gersonde says that out of about 50 wood bat leagues the Prospect League is ranked third. Prospect League teams range from Missouri to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Drones are like a well-designed retail startup. The owner has dotted his I’s and crossed his T’s. His management team has assembled a quality coaching staff and roster. Now, they do it again.
The locals came out early to kick the tires in the Drones’ first year. And, just like with any other solid business, it’s a good product and they’ll be back. And there will be new customers. $7.50 buys you an adult ticket. You can afford to take in some real baseball and let your kids have a ball.
Schaub, Gersonde, and Graff are fantastic baseball conversationalists. They know the game. Beyond all the business and promotion they are serious about winning right now. Judging by the way the Drones’ operation is put together local fans can count on that.
Theo Epstein says “every opportunity to win is sacred.” For Josh Schaub and the Drones that first opportunity is opening day.
WillCountyBaseball.org would like to thank Evan Gersonde and Aaron Graff for their valuable time. They have a ton of advice for high school and college baseball players.
The BBCOR-Wood Debate
High school and college players around the country are learning the pros and cons of hitting with BBCOR bat regulations and quality. Dr. Daniel A. Russell is a professor of acoustics at the Graduate Program in Acoustics at Penn State. He conducted a scientific analysis about the effects of different bats on offensive statistics; and he published his findings on a website titled, “Non-Wood Bats: Performance Trends in College Baseball.”
There is an undeniable relationship between the composition of bats to the velocity and distance of batted balls. In his findings Dr. Russell points out a couple of critical events in the evolution of standardized BBCOR bats.
2011 – BBCOR standard. After extensive laboratory testing of a large number wood, metal and composite bats, and based on the scientific evidence and arguments of several researchers including Dr. Alan Nathan and myself, the NCAA abandoned the BESR standard and replaced it with the BBCOR=0.50 standard. This new BBCOR standard effectively requires non-wood bats (metal and composite) to produce batted ball speeds no greater than wood.
2015 – Flat Seam Ball. The drastic drop in batting performance (Batting Averages, Scoring, and Home Runs) due to the adoption of the BBCOR bat standard is very evident in the statistical data. In 2015 the NCAA changed the baseball in an attempt to increase scoring. The raised-seam ball that had been the standard for college play was replaced with the flat-seam ball used in MLB. Laboratory testing showed that the drag coefficient for flat-seam balls is 25% lower than raised-seam balls, which means that the flat-seam ball will travel farther when hit.
These are critical developments for baseball players. Researchers are trying to even a playing field that has been established for over a century. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Serious college and high school coaches and players understand the physics. Lots of parents and average baseball fans might have no idea about the significance of baseball bat and ball design.