Cubs Minor League

How data helps Cubs develop hitters 

5 months agoLance Brozdowski

Two miles west of Wrigley Field sits a facility named Elite Baseball Training. Its president, Justin Stone, is the mastermind behind the system in place there to improve players of all levels. He draws on years of experience as a player at Eastern Illinois University and coach at Indiana State University.

So when the Cubs sought to overhaul the organization’s approach to data integration and communication and hire a Director of Hitting, Stone was a logical choice — not just because of proximity but also because of his aptitude.

“There are some super high aptitude guys who I hide the data from at times because they get too analytical,” Stone said.

Stone’s days start by sorting through the prior day’s data in the office. This includes everything from exit velocity information obtained during live batting practices to biometric information like strength and mobility barometers. But obtaining the information and making the proper inferences from that information are two wildly different things.

This flow of information highlights how important it is to have a sound system in place between the front office, high-level decision-makers like Stone, coordinators, coaches and eventually the players. A lapse in any part of that chain can lower the efficacy of the data obtained from the mass amounts of technology the team intakes on a daily basis. 

[MORE: Casey Jacobson, Cubs at forefront of pitching development]

Convincing players that information is valuable is one thing, but getting coaches to buy in is another. It helps that Stone had prior working relationships with four coaches in the organization.

Continuing education is also a key element of keeping coaches sharp and up to speed. The organization even has a committee that focuses on considering new technology and whether the information from it can be used in an actionable manner to make players better faster.

With the 3 through 6 hitters in the Cubs 2021 Opening Day Lineup now with other organizations, the task falls on individuals like Stone to fill the gaps with well-developed talent. 

“We have some guys on the cusp that are knocking on the door of Wrigley,” Stone said. “Hopefully we can [promote] some guys from the minor league system that can help the big league team.”

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