“” Matt Wilson - Driveline Baseball

Matt Wilson, Shane Stafford

Irvine Valley College

Matt Wilson knew something needed to change after struggling through a rough 2023 spring season with a fastball that hovered around 83 mph.

The left-hander viewed it as a crossroads.

“I kind of just decided that if I wanted to take this baseball thing really seriously that I needed to do something about it,” Wilson said. “And this summer was going to be the most important summer that we had.”

“We” is Wilson and his teammate Shane Stafford at Irvine Valley College. The two of them decided the best thing for their future in the sport was to go all-in and dedicate themselves to their training over the summer. 

The trepidation came in finding a facility that would also be all-in and dedicate itself to making them better baseball players.

“I didn’t want to just be some guy that was spending money to be overlooked at some facility and have some guy tell me to throw it differently, do this differently, and not really care about the end result,” Wilson said. “I wanted someone to actually care.”

Enter Driveline, and Wilson’s trainer, Dylan Gargas. Wilson knew immediately in June when he got to the facility that it was exactly what he was looking for, and then some.

“It has exceeded my expectations by a million,” he said. “Right away, I got to know my trainer Dylan [Gargas], and I realized he really wanted the best for me. You see small things in people throughout time that tell you who they are and what they’re about. Dylan really made me feel like he cared about my process and wanted to see me get better.”

Wilson’s process started with his initial motion capture with Gargas. It showed a lot to be desired when it came to his strength numbers.

At 140 pounds, Wilson’s strength assessment showed that he was way behind his peers at the collegiate level.

“They give you a strength number out of 100,” Wilson explained. “Mine was three…I’m looking at this three number out of 100, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘That’s terrible.’ Dylan was maybe beating around the bush a little bit, being nice, and I said, ‘That number is dog sh*t, isn’t it?’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Yeah.’ So I said, ‘Alright, let’s go get stronger.”

Stafford’s first motion capture went a bit differently, but he felt the same passion from his trainers that Wilson did.

The left-handed hitter was coming off a freshman season in which he hit .321 at Irvine Valley, but far too many of those hits were singles.

“I have very good bat-to-ball skills,” Stafford said. “But I wanted to come to Driveline to learn how to crush the ball consistently so that instead of flicking singles to the right fielder, I would be able to drive a double or a bomb over his head.”

His first motion capture showed that both his bat speed and hand speed were in the mid-90s percentile among college hitters, so that wasn’t the problem.

But what the mo-cap also showed was that his on-plane efficiency was in the 40th percentile. Hitting trainers Travis Fitta and Conner Watson suggested moving his hands up closer to his head rather than at his chest, where he currently had them.

It worked, and Stafford’s on-plane efficiency jumped from the 40th percentile to the mid-70s. In turn, he started hitting the ball in the air a lot more often, and a lot harder, too – his peak exit velocity has jumped from 97.4 mph in his initial mo-cap to 105.2 mph in his most recent one.

Back at Irvine Valley this fall, he went deep in just about every game he played in.

“It’s been way easier to drive the ball in the air since they’ve told me to [raise my hands],” Stafford said. “When I got back to school this fall I could obviously tell in-game that it was helping me.”

Wilson has seen the same type of progress as Stafford. Steady work in the weight room allowed him to gain 10 pounds over his initial six-week training block in June, and by the time he left, his fastball had jumped from 83.1 to 87.3 mph.

The progress continued after he went back to Irvine Valley, and now he’s knocking on the door of the 90 mph mark, sitting 86-88 mph this fall for the Lasers.

The added velocity has helped him get more outs, which has been great. But Wilson said it is the belief all of the trainers at Driveline have in him that has taken him from a crossroads onto a path to success.

“The strides I’ve made as a baseball player have been awesome in every way, shape and form, but it’s been the relationships I’ve made along the way,” Wilson said. “These are trainers in the weight room that I just don’t look at as trainers anymore. These are guys I really enjoy being around…They genuinely care about you and want to see success out of you. If you go in there and take it seriously and show them that you want the best for yourself, then they’re going to want what’s best for you and they’re going to push you to get there.”

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