Winning a World Series not only takes a natural ability to play baseball, but a strong work ethic is also needed. The Astros’ work ethic is something to behold.
The night before the Astros celebrated their World Series victory with a parade in downtown Houston, Kevin Poppe of Dynamic Sports Training received a call around midnight.
“Hey Poppe, it’s Alex. I want to come in and do the assessment and get started on workouts tomorrow.”
“Don’t you have the parade tomorrow?”
“Yeah, but I’ll come in after to get started.”
“Are you sure? It’s going to be a massive parade downtown, and I don’t know if you’ll be able to make it out in time.”
“Oh yeah, I will. Wait, did I wake you up?”
“Oh, sorry. See you tomorrow.”
That midnight conversation speaks volumes about Astros’ star third baseman, Alex Bregman, whose mind was already focused on preparing for 2018. The people who were going to help him get ready: Dynamic Sports Training (DST).
Lee Fiocchi is the owner and founder of DST. He is also currently the Head Strength and Conditioning coach for the Los Angeles Angels. Kevin Poppe is the Director of Operations at DST North (Tomball) and an Owner of DST. Kevin also directs all DST Summer Programs across all facilities. These are the men in charge of Bregman’s workouts since he was drafted.
DST has three facilities, and the Tomball facility is located at the Premier Baseball of Texas Sports Complex. Stepping inside the door, it does not resemble the super-fancy and high-tech weight rooms one might imagine would cater to elite athletes. The weight room has a standard but full fare of free weights and exercise equipment. Most anyone who played sports in high school would recognize the general setup.
Signed jerseys of DST clients line the wall around Kevin’s office in the back of the weight room. Scott Kazmir, Barry Zito, and Trevor Bauer – yes, that Bauer – were some of Kevin’s first clients before Bregman. Joining them are jerseys of more recent clients such as Carlos Correa, Tony Sipp, and Tyler White.
Underneath those jerseys is a stack of binders that contain workouts. On the spines of those binders are names of currently Major Leaguers and many top prospects (Forrest Whitley among them). DST’s training pedigree is without a doubt, top-notch.
Past Kevin’s office is the assessment room, followed by an indoor pitching cage. Everything about DST is designed to promote effective and efficient workouts that get results.
When I asked Kevin how much analytics went into developing workouts, the answer was “Yes and no.” There are machines that DST uses to measure certain physical statistics to adjust workouts, but there is also a “just get after it” mentality. You won’t find a room full of athletes hooked up to monitors at DST.
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We agreed that their methods fall somewhere between the old school weight rooms with no air conditioning and the Russians from Rocky IV.
Kevin made it clear that each athlete is assessed and workouts are designed to cover some factors. There are differences in the workouts that pitchers go through versus infielders. But body type also plays a role. If White and Yuli Gurriel both walked into DST today, they would have very different workouts because they have different body types, even for the same position. Sipp – who may show up in a Mickey Mouse shirt and sweatpants – does not need the same workout as Correa.
Kevin spoke very highly of every Astro that has signed on with DST. Each has shown up ready and willing to work every time, and not just when manager AJ Hinch or general manager Jeff Lunhow is around. He said one of the hallmarks of the Astros he has worked with had been their willingness to stick to the program.
The physical results speak for themselves. Bregman is having a spectacular season. White’s recent stretch shows just how much work he has put into improving. But DST approaches their clients in ways that go beyond the weight room. They have a strong track record of building relationships with their athletes that serve to push them to higher levels.