Pursuing a Career in Biomechanics and Baseball

My name is Joey Mylott, and I am a student in the biomedical engineering graduate program in the Wake Forest School of Medicine. As a graduate student, I have been working and researching biomechanics in the Wake Forest Pitching Lab, and I have started working with the Baseball Analytics team here. While the focus for my degree is biomechanics related to sports performance and injury prevention, I am very interested in the process of data-driven player development and data analytics. My goal is to work as a biomechanist within an MLB organization or for a premier training facility, like Driveline Baseball, Tread Athletics, etc. In order to reach this goal, I am pursuing a graduate degree to deepen my understanding of sports biomechanics, the technology used in the field, and how to apply that knowledge to baseball. I am very excited to have started my graduate studies at Wake Forest and to work with the Pitching Lab and the Baseball Analytics team. I would like to share some of my ideas, thoughts, and research, as well as connect with experts in biomechanics and data analytics.

Initial Interest in Biomechanics and Analytics

My college baseball career had an enormous impact on my interest in biomechanics, data-driven player development, and data analytics because of how they helped me improve as a player. My ultimate goal is to use what I have learned from my past experiences, education, and future research to help baseball players maximize their potential. I loved every second of my baseball career and I want to help future athletes enjoy more success on the diamond. More specifically, I want to help athletes maximize their potential, break through training plateaus, minimize injury risk, and succeed at the highest level possible.

During my undergraduate career at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY, I studied biomedical engineering and played Division 3 baseball. Entering my freshman year, I was a scrawny 6’0” 145 lbs. utility player with a better glove than bat who mainly played 1B and OF. I was an average player. After losing my 2016 season to injury and serving mostly as a defensive replacement in 2017, I knew I needed to take my training to the next level if I wanted to earn more playing time and make an impact at RIT. Over the offseason between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, I began diving into data-driven player development. I read as much as I could from Driveline, Tread Athletics, FanGraphs, and any other source that I could find. From all this research, I decided to start training at a baseball facility called Prospect Performance Academy (PPA) in Aurora, Ohio.

Using Analytics as a Player

Tyler Mitchell and Ben Simon, who are both trainers and co-owners of PPA, completely transformed me as they did countless other players through functional mobility screens, weight room programming, Rapsodo aided pitching and hitting sessions, and much more. With all the resources available at PPA, we developed a plan to improve my strength, speed, and production at the plate. We completely overhauled my lifting, retooled my swing for more high line drives and extra base hits, and cleaned up my throwing motion. All these changes paid off. In 2018, I enjoyed the best season of my collegiate career, up to that point, and earned all-conference accolades. We continued to use my previous statistics and training metrics as benchmarks for my improvement at PPA. Through this process, my performance actually increased again in 2019.

Above are my career hitting statistics at RIT. My production clearly increased in my 2018 season when I became a full-time starter, but my power numbers were not adequate. The main goal of my 2019 season was to increase my power without sacrificing my contact or average. Overall, I believe I achieved that goal as my SLG%, OBP, OPS, and stolen bases all increased. I only had 1 less XBH with 24 less at bats and a hamstring injury that took me out for 8 games. Even though my batting average slightly dropped, and my SO numbers did increase, the tradeoff was worth it.

Entering my redshirt junior season, I weighed 185 lbs. and started in center field for RIT, and I earned the role of a captain for the 2020 season. My personal transformation as a player and all my research in data-driven player development opened my eyes to a huge passion in my life. Without my training at PPA and the knowledge I gained during that time, I would not be pursuing a career in baseball. Also, I only share these numbers to validate the training methods used at PPA and other similar facilities. Many other athletes have stories like mine. Some of them struggled more than me, but plenty enjoyed even more dramatic improvements and success. I’m excited to utilize what I have learned from a player’s perspective along with what I will continue to learn to help players.

Experience Working in Baseball

In the first half of 2020, I started working to turn this passion into a career. I was accepted to Wake Forest’s graduate biomedical engineering program where I am currently studying and performing research. Over the summer I worked at PPA to explore more training possibilities through data analytics. We used mobility screens and Blast Motion and Rapsodo data to create individualized hitting and swing plans for clients and incorporate them into their training. Over the summer, I also served as an assistant coach and data analytics intern with a premier invitational 17u summer travel program called Team Ohio Pro Select. I worked with practice and game video as well as Blast Motion and Trackman data to help coach the players and promote them to potential colleges. I am in the process of applying to internships with MLB organizations and private training facilities for the summer of 2021.

Current and Future Research

I am currently working and researching biomechanics in the Pitching Lab at Wake Forest. Through the lab, I am working with the Wake Forest Baseball Analytics team, and I am working on a few projects with them to connect biomechanics to ball flight and pitch movement profiles. This group contains many talented students and professionals in biomechanics, data analytics, and baseball in general. I am also working on multiple biomechanics projects in the Pitching Lab. My Master’s thesis project is in its beginning phase, but I have already started to put together some study ideas on the topic of ground force production (GFP) in pitchers’ lead legs. I want to explore the connection between force production during different exercises in the weight room and see if those movement patterns translate to pitching biomechanics. Another project I will be helping with includes drive leg impulse for pitchers. I plan on posting updates about my master’s thesis project on GFP and other projects in the Pitching Lab. I will also post updates on my projects with the Wake Forest Analytics team here on our Medium page.

Follow me on Twitter @MylottJoey, contact me at 216–315–5853, or email me at jmylott@wakehealth.edu or joeymylott@gmail.com.

Acknowledgments

Wake Forest Pitching Lab Twitter: @WakePitchingLab Instagram: @wakepitchinglab Website: wakeforestpitchinglab.com

Wake Forest Baseball Analytics Twitter: @Wake_Analytics Medium: medium.com/wake-forest-baseball-analytics

Tyler Mitchell — Co-owner of PPA, Director of Operations at PPA Twitter: @FollowALeader44 Instagram: @tylermitchelltraining

Ben Simon — Co-owner and founder of PPA Twitter: @bsimon7

Simon Sports — Ben Simon’s baseball representation agency Twitter: @Simon__Sports Website: simonsportsagency.com

Prospect Performance Academy (PPA) — baseball training facility in Aurora, Ohio Twitter: @PPA_Ohio Instagram: @ppa_ohio Website: prospectperformanceohio.com

Team Ohio Pro Select — premier invitational 17u summer travel team

Graduate student in the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Studying biomedical engineering and researching biomechanics in the Wake Forest Pitching Lab.