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Former Missouri baseball player Lukas Veinbergs works with startup companies to challenge the inequality gap in baseball

Former Missouri baseball player Lukas Veinbergs works with startup companies to challenge the inequality gap in baseball

The stands burst into applause when number five shaved a flyball out into the right field on an outside court. He put on the jets that rounded first when the ball was thrown to the other baseman. Number five looked at his coach, who jumped feverishly in the air while pointing to third base. He took the signal and asked for his fastest time so far, and plunged into third place before the field glove could be swept down by the dirt.

“Safe,” the judge shouted, waving his arms parallel to the sides.

Number five got up after the coach gave him a congratulatory blow on the back. This is the moment he had been waiting for: the perfect timing, the perfect pitch, the perfect opportunity.

As he looked toward the stands with hopeful eyes, he saw the recruit scout sit down with a plate of nachos and Diet Coke, unaware of the commotion that happened not even a minute ago. With a defeated sigh, the number five realized that he paid hundreds of dollars in travel expenses and entrance fees for an exhibition tournament, for an opportunity to be recruited – all for the scout to exchange his best triple for the day for a bite to eat.

To the recruiter, he was just a number in a crowded pool of qualified candidates.

Missouri baseball alum Lukas Veinbergs knows the challenge that comes with getting a recruiting offer first hand. Growing up in a small town of 5,000 people in Michigan, he first noticed the economic inequalities and the subjective recruitment process of the college baseball industry after graduation. He now works for the start-up company Winmill to help baseball players who are trying to be recruited.

Winmill created the Baseball Aptitude Test, a kind of standardized test, to help bridge the recruitment inequality gap in baseball. The company hopes to offer a cheaper and more accurate way for baseball players to be recruited at the collegiate level. Veinbergs said the process is much more accessible than the hundred-dollar showcases he attended each weekend only to be noticed at the start of the college ball days.

“We look at it as a standardized test like ACT or SAT,” Veinbergs said. “It costs around 150 dollars to get in and take a full 80 pitches, about 30 minutes evaluation. Then you get access to the database and your profile that gives you your percentage, your status [and] your national ranking. Your data will be sent to college coaches. “

Winmill will launch BAT in November. Players wishing to take part in the evaluation will register online on Winmill’s website, register for a while and show up with the hit equipment to take the test. Winmill’s CEO, Mārtiņš Marenis, said the company plans to make a stopover in the Midwest in the coming months.

They will start in Chicago and then make their way through Missouri, Indiana and Michigan, ensuring that they cover all the important places for baseball in the Midwest. After that, they will travel nationally. Currently, they will be in Chicago until the end of the year.

Marenis said that Winmill was founded on the principle of building tools that give athletes the opportunity to increase training opportunities and performance. He said BAT is an effective way for athletes to measure their talent in a proctored setting.

“We see [at] about 12 rounds with five to ten pitches, Veinbergs said. “And they range from speed balls, basket balls, changes. All the pretty average calculations. With our machine we can recreate any pitch ever, which is pretty cool, but we try to keep it pretty average so everyone faces the same thing. And [after] In 24 to 48 hours, they will receive a PDF version of the results. “

Winmill does not tailor BAT with a specific racial or economic demographic in mind. The goal is to help anyone who can not travel to a showcase and has ambitions to play college baseball.

Veinbergs said that the college sports industry seems to favor those who have a larger stature and attractive appearance. He also said storefronts can be expensive. On average, they can cost hundreds of dollars. But with BAT, everything changes.

“We do not necessarily want to eliminate the video and the subjectivity [of in-person recruitment with the B.A.T.], but we want to minimize it so that the numbers catch your eyes more than the player’s stature, Veinbergs said.

Veinbergs said that despite the fact that BAT is inclusive, college coaches will continue to look at exhibition tournaments because the machine can not measure everything, such as attitude and camaraderie. However, Veinbergs said that Winmill is trying to change the way people view this process. They offer a more objective alternative to showcasing tournaments and provide a new opportunity for players to get noticed.

‘I used to know maybe [a scout is] on a shop window, but I have to hope they did not go to the concession stand when I met or [hope] he does not talk to his friend when I pitch, Veinbergs said. “With the objective figures, [coaches] can trust the numbers and be confident in the decisions they make. ”

While the days of nacho-eating scouts are still approaching, Veinbergs said there is greater hope and opportunity that players will be able to provide a more accurate description of the abilities and skill sets of recruiters thanks to Winmills BAT

“It’s the most reliable way to get good, clear data to college coaches,” Veinbergs said. “Most schools are not going to recruit straight out of this, but it’s a great way to get your name in front of them and start a conversation if nothing else.”

Edited by Elise Mulligan | emulligan@themaneater.com

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