Louisville Slugger Releases New BBCOR Lineup
Louisville Slugger wants to take the sting out of BBCOR bats, making vibration technology the focal point of updates to its 2019 lineup of bats, released this August.
Tom Burns, senior product manager for Slugger bats, calls the new lineup a complete offering from the top down. “There is a lot of excitement with new stuff going on in every bat,” he says. “There was a ton of engineering and playtesting work that went into this. We are super psyched.”
The August lineup includes a fresh Prime 919, Select 719, Solo 619 and Omaha 519, with a new Meta Prime version available in October. The Prime, Select and Solo will also hit the customization site, a first for both the Select and Solo lines.
An update to the VCX (vibration control system) aims to improve the independent connection between the barrel and the handle for the two-piece Prime and Select models. By allowing independent movement, the VCX connector controls vibration in the three-piece system, Burns says. As players increase their time in the batting cages and train more, controlling vibration becomes an important part of a two-piece bat. “We are looking at what controlling vibration can do for the health of the player,” Burns says. “It is a new space for us.”
Already the response to the new line has proven positive, with the Prime — continually a top-selling BBCOR bat — maintaining its momentum into the next year, Burns says. The Select, which comes more end-loaded than the rest of the lineup, a bat tuned to what an elite high school or early college player may desire, also comes with the VCX connection and a differing feel than the Prime.
For the one-piece Solo and Omaha, Burns says Slugger went a different direction in vibration control. With limited room to innovate in a one-piece alloy, Louisville Slugger turned to Vibex, a leader in vibration dampening in industrial equipment, such as jackhammers. A newly developed and patented technology has entered the new Solo and Omaha alloy line that Burns says knocks down the vibration in a one-piece. “The space is more and more competitive with everyone launching one-piece alloys into the market,” he says. “We are trying to stay ahead of the curve.”
To keep the line fresh beyond technology, designers worked with focus groups of core baseball players to learn what colors excited them most. Year after year, the red, white and blue themes play well and since Slugger hasn’t entered that fray with its BBCOR lineup, the 2019 iteration celebrates red, white and blue, while using gray and other tones to give each bat its own personality.
Louisville Slugger also keeps a uniformity in lines, from USA Bat to USSSA to BBCOR to offer consistent looks across different fields of play.
Even while Louisville Slugger relishes the August release of the new line, Burns already awaits the October release of the Meta Prime, which will include a new composite built from the ground up based on sound testing and a fresh connection system to tune stiffness on the inside and outside.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.