Updated: October 27, 2020

Transition to Middle School Ball

My sons last year of little league was last year and he’s moving to a junior high league that requires USA bats. He swung a 31 inch drop 10 Easton beast hybrid and 31 inch drop 8 Rawlings machine last year. He has been playing for 4 years making the all star team each year. He has used both composites and hybrid bats but we live in ohio so cold weather is an issue. He’s 5ft 6’ about 130. Should I go ahead and move him to a 32 inch drop 5 or stay with a 31 inch drop 5? Also bat suggestions for under 250? Thanks for your time.


(Get your own advice?)

Dear Kelam,

Thanks for the question. Here’s what we have.

We don’t know if your son is 12, but just guessing based on the fact he’s been playing for 4 years and probably started around 8 years old. If he’s 13 or 11 we don’t think our answer would change much. If he is 14 and in the BBCOR or a league that requires at least a drop 5 then read Option 2 below.

Option 1

Assumptions (11 – 13 y.o | 130 pounds | Skill Level: Good – Great | Concerns: Cold Weather Bat, Under $250 | Previous Bats: Hybrids, Single Piece Aluminum)

We looked at our bat size chart for a 130 pound kid about 12 years old and found a 23 ounce bat would likely maximize his swing speed and force at impact. (These data points were gathered a scientific study done in a lab to produce the highest force at impact.)

Generally, our data tests show that bat speed, at a younger age, is more important than bat heft. Although, we realize, they are going to drop 3 BBCOR bats soon so building up to that is a smart play too. But, in terms of pure performance, staying lighter for longer tends to send the ball further.

If he’s allowed to do something besides a drop 5 then we suggest you look for a drop 8 32-inch. The Hybrids and single piece aluminum bats in the space tend to run a bit heavy so he’ll feel like its a bigger stick than last year. Our guess is he’ll really like the longer bat too.

2019 Easton Beast Pro Drop 8

Bat Advice

Price Check: Amazon | JustBats

If you want to stay under $250 for a new 2019 bat then take a close look at the 2019 Easton Beast Pro Drop 8. This is a solid, no frills bat. It’s a single piece so will be durable for cold weather although it will ring the hands on mishits. It will feel more like the Rawlings Machine, but better.

The 2019 Easton Beast Pro in a drop 8 (and drop 5) was also the choice of the many of elite hitters in the 2019 LLWS. (LLWS bat commentary).

2018 Axe Element USA

2018 Axe Element Review

Price Check: Amazon

(We had a hard time finding 32 inches in stock. But, at the time of this writing, Amazon had some).

Another solid drop 8 in the USA space and a real under the radar pick is the Axe Element.

You’ll need to get over the fact the bat has a handle he might not be used to (and its green!). But, our players really like them. The Easton Beast Pro it will ring your hands on mishits like the Rawlings machine he used last year.

Option 2

Assumptions (13+ y.o | 130 pounds | Skill Level: Good – Great | Concerns: Cold Weather Bat, Under $250, Needs at least a drop 5 | Previous Bats: Hybrids, Single Piece Aluminum)

If he is required to swing a drop 5 in the USA space then the ‘scientist’ would say to get as close to 23 ounces as possible. So, the 31/26.

But, if he can’t get the optimal size we think it more a function of how much he’s grown in the last year. If a lot, then go for the 32/27. If not so much then stick with the 31/26. Both will feel like an upgrade. And, when in doubt, we’d opt for the longer bat in a 32/27. Each upgrade in inch adds about 7 or 8% in swing weight.

2018 Slugger 718 USA Drop 5

Bat ADvice

Price Check: Amazon | JustBats

The decision here is easy.

Especially while vendors are trying to blow out last year’s inventory.

The 2018 Slugger 718 Select in a drop 5 won’t be beat. Your boy will really like how smooth of a smash it is, the Lizard Skin Grip, and the good sized barrel. This is an elite level bat. At the time of this writing the 32/27 on Amazon was a better price.

The hybrid will feel more like the Easton Beast Hybrid he swing last year, but the 718 feels just like it should. Swings like a boss and one of our favorite USA bats from 2018.

In any event, we hope that information is helpful and we at least put you on the right path to get answers and make the right decision for you.

Good luck this year! Let us know what you decided and how it worked out. If you liked our advice feel free to use the links above to make your purchases. We might get a small commission from those vendors if you follow to their site from ours.


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