Nothing compares to the crack.
“It’s such a clean, crisp sound off a wood bat,” Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said. “You don’t get that off a metal bat.”
The pings and dings you hear coming out of Omaha during the College World Series won’t take away from a magical 11 or 12 days of baseball. Metal and composite bats are a staple of the college game, one not likely to change anytime soon.
But should it?
If the ultimate goal of every college or high school player is to go pro, shouldn’t they use a bat made from a tree?
It would make my job easier. It would make the evaluation process of what we’re projecting more present.
MLB scout with a college coaching background
Scouts would conceivably have a better gauge of hitting and pitching prospects if the professional tools of the game were uniform at the amateur level.
“It would make my job easier,” a MLB scout with a college coaching background said. “It would make the evaluation process of what we’re projecting more present. Here’s what I’m seeing, this is what he’s doing.
“With the metal bat, you have to take that into consideration to see how it translates to the next level.”
Since the advent of the BBCOR bat in 2011, the exit speed of a batted ball off metal/composite bat is comparable to that of wood. The change helped make the game safer while reining in offenses, continuing a trend that began in the 1990s.
Hitters, though, still feel a difference between wood and man-made materials.
These new [BBCOR] bats are a little different, but there is still some give and some leeway. Wood would definitely fine-tune hitting skills.
UT Arlington catcher Brady Cox
“These new bats are a little different, but there is still some give and some leeway,” UT Arlington catcher Brady Cox said. “Wood would definitely fine-tune hitting skills.
“I wouldn’t be against it if it happened. It would be fun to see that and see how people adjust to it, but until then I would keep using metal as long as you’re allowed to.”
Cox played in a wood-bat Jayhawk League last summer. Moreland spent two summers in the prestigious Cape Cod League while at Mississippi State.
Those games in the Cape gave Moreland’s confidence and skill level a boost.
“Good competition up there and you’re swinging wood bats,” he said. “That’s definitely a shot in the arm. You don’t feel as lost when you get to pro ball, but some guys pick it up no problem.
“That summer ball helps, but college ball is college ball and I don’t know how much you want to change stuff up.”
The MLB scout admitted that while it might be somewhat easier to project talent using wood, the tradeoff isn’t necessarily worth it for the good of the game.
“I like the balance we have right now,” he said. “I know there are some baseball enthusiasts that would like more Augie [Garrido] ball, more of bunting and small ball. But the masses wants to see balls driven into the gap, doubles, triples and a few home runs.”
And there is a hitting truth immune to technology.
“There’s a lot more forgiveness from the aluminum and metal bats I used,” Moreland said, “but at the same time if you hit one on the sweet spot, they both go.”