Dean Davis walked into Driveline’s training facility in October of 2020 off a recommendation from a family friend.At the time, he was a 12-year-old looking to join Driveline’s new Academy program as a way to get stronger and solidify a baseline of skills that would set him on a trajectory to play varsity baseball as an underclassman, and open the door to playing in college.
“The day I got there, I met Deven [Morgan],” Davis said. “He said, ‘This is basically our baseball Disneyland…That sold me on it, and especially their philosophies about making everybody better. That was a really big selling point as well.”
Morgan, Driveline’s Director of Academy, was immediately excited to get to work with Davis, and has seen the catcher/utility player grow from that 12-year-old kid who registered a 68 mph exit velocity when he first started, to now a 15-year-old young man who is consistently barreling balls in the mid-80s.
The tools at their disposal at Driveline certainly have played a part in that transformation, but Morgan was quick to point out that Davis is more than willing to put in the necessary work.
“Outside of the numbers, he is just an incredibly good kid,” Morgan said. “He works really, really hard…He’s unrelentingly positive, and he has put himself in a position to have a very good high school baseball career.”
The Academy program at Driveline works a bit differently than, say, a professional pitcher who trains with Driveline during his offseason with the goal of fine-tuning some things to get ready for Spring Training. Morgan takes a more holistic approach with the teenagers at Driveline.
Boiled down, he said, he wants to get those athletes moving faster and getting stronger.
That’s exactly what Davis has done in his two-plus years at the facility. As a 12u athlete first testing at Driveline, his 68.7 mph exit velocity was right at the observed median max exit velocity of 68.5 mph for that age group – numbers researched and put together by Morgan in his work with youth athletes at the Driveline facility. Now, as a 15u athlete topping 86 mph, he’s really starting to outpace the 82.3 median max exit velocity of his peers and pull the ball with authority, as seen in the charts below.
Davis as a 15u athlete in January 2023.
Davis as a 12u athlete in October 2020.
Soft Contact: Below 75 mph EV.
Medium Contact: 75-95 mph EV.
Hard Contact: 95+ mph EV.
“I would get to the [Driveline] cage and I started asking questions,” Davis said. “That combined with working out really pushed me to work harder on my strength. I’ve also had some weight gain recently. So strength-wise, I’ve improved a lot quickly. We’re supposed to be doing these difficult exercises, and then add weight over time. As you do that you start to get stronger, and you start to move quicker.”
Davis has advanced dramatically in several of Driveline’s High Performance metrics. Take squat jump peak power – the strongest correlation to throwing hard and bat speed that Driveline tracks – which measures how powerful an athlete is jumping from a standstill. Davis is now testing almost 40% higher than his assessment back in October of 2021, a jump that has seen him go from 840 watts below the standard deviation for a high school athlete to just 25 watts below in his most recent testing. He has seen the same improvement in countermovement jumps and other workouts, all telling the story of an athlete who is getting functionally stronger.
That newfound strength has shown up in the hitting training Davis has been doing at Driveline. The 29-inch, lower weight bat he used to use for bat speed training is no more – he’s moved on to a heavier one now. The last ingredient for Davis, the complement to the meat and potatoes of strength and skills training, is the atmosphere Driveline creates during their workouts. Training in groups, with metrics so readily available, creates inherent competition. Davis loves it. It fuels him.
“I see everybody else who’s better than me, and I want to be better than them,” he said. “The idea is to go as hard as I possibly can to prove to myself that I am better than them, that I can end up beating them out of their jobs.
“I want to make sure that I’m the one who will be the best.”