Outfielder, Westmont College
Bryce McFeely got three total at-bats during his freshman season at Westmont College last year. He didn’t have a great feel at the plate all year, and things just never clicked for him.
Two of his teammates who did get a lot of at-bats that year, Thomas Rudinsky and Simon Reid, had a suggestion for McFeely.
“Both Rudy and Simon told me I should go to Driveline,” McFeely said. “They told me it would be a huge help for me as a player.”
The two made the suggestion because they themselves had been through the Driveline ecosystem and seen the results. Rudinsky had an OPS of .990 that year and later became a hitting intern at Driveline, eventually training McFeely. Reid hit so well at Westmont after training at Driveline that he got drafted in the 10th round by the Dodgers.
McFeely, who is from Seattle, bought in, and started training at the facility after he finished his freshman year. At first, he and his trainers were just picking low-hanging fruit.
“Everything was kind of messed up at first,” McFeely said.
Eventually, McFeely and hitting trainer Maxx Garrett locked in on a hip issue he was having in his swing. McFeely was pushing through his swing and leaking onto his front side, versus rotating properly on the backside. His hands, which had plenty of speed, were having to catch up.
They had the ability to do so, and that’s why he was able to hide that inefficiency in his swing against high school pitching. But that’s not exactly how you want to utilize that hand speed, and he was lacking in bat speed because of it–his average bat speed was sitting around 62-63 mph.
There were a couple drills Garrett prescribed–a lot of Hook ‘Ems and Pivot Picks to help McFeely stay on his backside longer, and a lot of short stride or no stride swings to get him rotating more and give him instant ball flight feedback that turned out to be extremely valuable.
“That helped because if I didn’t rotate properly, I would just flare the ball completely or miss it,” McFeely said. “So that was a big one.”
McFeely also did targeted bat speed training three times per week, paired with Driveline High Performance days on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The bat speed work involved the three Axe Bat Speed Trainers, two of which are 20% heavier and one 20% lighter than McFeely’s game bat. It was the same kind of work Rudinsky and Reid had talked to him about, and had become so prevalent at Westmont.
“He knew that bat speed training was important and that his coaches cared about it,” Garrett said. “So he had been exposed to it before he got here. It was something that was really important to him because he knew he needed to increase that in order to hit the ball harder.”
In short, the targeted training paired with the hip fix worked.
In McFeely’s first training session at Driveline at the beginning of the summer, he was swinging the bat around 62-63 mph, well below average for a college player. After four months of training, that number jumped all the way up to 73 mph on his good swings, a number well above average for a college player and more similar to how fast professional hitters swing it.
In turn, he was hitting the ball harder as well. During his initial test, McFeely’s top exit velocity was 99 mph. During his last test, his top exit velo was 102 mph, and he topped 100 mph four times.
So how did it translate to in-game performance?
McFeely is OPS’ing .939 this spring for Westmont and has the third-most at-bats on the team. He’s driven in 41 runs in 46 games and he’s walking more than he’s striking out.
Basically, he’s a whole new hitter.