“” Francesco Barbieri - Driveline Baseball

Francesco Barbieri

Ave Maria University

When it came time for Francesco Barbieri to choose his next school after a two-year stint at North Iowa Area Community College, he knew exactly where he wanted to go.

Ave Maria University down in Florida had been taken over by two brothers, Mike and Nick McCormick, who had both previously been trainers at Driveline and planned on taking all that they learned there and implementing it with the Gyrenes.

“That’s the reason I went to Ave Maria,” Barbieri said. “About a week and a half before school started, Nick McCormick called and was selling Ave Maria to me. They just took over the program and he was telling me everything they were doing for player development. I wanted to go to a place like that, so I was sold. That was where I needed to be.”

And after two seasons at Ave Maria and one more year of eligibility remaining, Barbieri took it a step further. He had been training in a Driveline-like environment for two years, so why not experience the real thing before the most important season of his career?

Again, it was the McCormicks who suggested the trip out to Driveline.

“My coaches really pushed me to go to Driveline, because they knew I wanted to further my baseball career,” Barbieri said. “And if I wanted to do that, I needed to get better. I had all the tools, but I had to really hone in on them and become the player that I wanted to be. So they pushed me to go, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Barbieri was 160 pounds soaking wet when he showed up, with bat speed around 65 mph. Those were the first two orders of business.

“My bat-to-ball has always been really good, but I needed to develop more power,” he said. “That was the reality of it. So that comes with more bat speed and more weight on me.”

In one offseason, Barbieri gained around 20 pounds. He’s swinging the bat 10 mph faster than he did before he got to Driveline.

On top of that, his posture at the plate has gotten a whole lot better. Barbieri tended to pull off the ball and lose his posture really quickly. When that happened, the left-handed Barbieri would either hit a weak flare to the opposite field or a top-spin ground ball to the right side of the infield.

The unlock for him posture-wise was hammering the offset open drill with a short bat. Now, he’s able to see pitches deeper and drive the ball with good ball flight to match.

He left Driveline this offseason feeling really, really good.

“It’s night and day,” Barbieri said. “Not only am I stronger, I’m also more explosive and faster. My bat speed went through the roof. To feel that and then to see the numbers and the progress, it makes you feel more confident.”

Barbieri went into opening weekend with Ave Maria feeling like he could do damage with anything thrown to him.

And, well, he pretty much did.

In three games, Barbieri collected six hits in 14 at-bats. Three of those hits were home runs, and another a double. The three home runs equaled his total in his first two seasons with the Gyrenes.

“The numbers were the numbers, but it wasn’t even about that for me,” Barbieri said. “It was just the overall at-bats that I had. Driveline, of course, 110 percent helped me raise my ceiling, but more importantly, it really helped me raise my floor. It just feels like I’m unbeatable in the box.”

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