With his first full professional season over, Bobby Witt Jr. is looking toward the future. Everything he’s been doing this offseason is geared toward 2022 and beyond, from his training workouts to his recovery.
“I think that was the biggest thing last season that worked for me, getting into the right routine to get your body right,” Witt said in a recent phone conversation. “That’s what I’ve tried to do this offseason as well, trying to get the routine down, trying to eat better, recover better, sleep better, all those types of things so that my body knows how to do that when the season comes.
“This is the time where you want to break down your body and see what it needs. A lot of learning and getting ready for what’s to come.”
Witt, the Royals’ top prospect and on the verge of breaking into the Majors, is training where he did last offseason, the Texas-based Athlete Performance Enhancement Center (APEC). It’s the same spot -- and guided under the same head trainer, Bobby Stroupe -- where Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has trained, and Kansas City fans know how well things turned out for Mahomes.
Stroupe, who has been working with Mahomes for more than a decade, founded APEC in 2005. The center now counts more than 100 NFL players and around 65 MLB players as clients. Witt joined the fray last offseason and was eager to work with Stroupe and his trainers again this winter.
“You can really tell the improvements that everyone has had, and what I’ve gone through the first two months, as well as last year. I can really tell the improvement in my body and how I move and feel in general,” Witt said. “They’re masterminds. They do their work as much as we do our work. It’s an awesome group to be a part of.”
To go along with his focus on recovery, injury prevention and getting into a good routine, Witt has added a few pounds of muscle from his training, evidenced by what is very scientific data -- his jeans.
“I can tell my legs are getting a little bigger,” he said, laughing. “Whenever I put on jeans, which I don’t wear too often, sometimes they get a little snug on me. That’s the goal, try to outgrow some jeans and get my legs bigger and stronger. You can tell the workouts are working.”
Witt has an individualized plan for the offseason, concocted with Stroupe and in communication with the Royals. He trains Monday through Friday, with every day a full-body workout, incorporating speed, strength and power; arm care is worked in at the end. He notes that Fridays are always the toughest, because his trainers like to say he has a whole weekend to recover.
“So I love Fridays,” Witt said.
“We really look at health, performance and player development as the scope of our practice,” Stroupe said. “And one of the things that makes us different is truly putting movement first. We believe in training what we call chain reaction biomechanics -- sequences of movement that are going to translate to dexterity of skills and high levels of coordination that should cross over to skill development. That’s a big staple for what we do. We get raw, we lift, but there’s probably a little more movement-based approach than other places.”
Stroupe has seen improvement in Witt between last offseason and now. Witt's 23.25 mph on a flying 20 -- when an athlete gets 20 yards to build up and 20 yards to hit his max -- is the fastest Stroupe has recorded on a GPS device, which is more accurate than a stopwatch. Witt’s one-step vertical, 42 1/2 inches, is up from last year, and he has the top 10-yard sprint speed that Stroupe has recorded, hitting 19 mph.
“To put that in perspective, I’ve had guys at the NFL Combine that run 4.3 that didn’t get above 17-18 mph in 10 yards,” Stroupe said. “I’m not saying that he can run 4.3, but I would say that 10-yard burst is elite.”
You might recall a video Stroupe posted to Twitter last January, showing Witt crow-hopping into a swing that was recorded at 141 mph. It’s a lighter bat, and Witt looks like he’s having fun. To be clear, it is fun -- and Witt is an intense competitor with every drill -- but it’s a velocity drill that Stroupe’s team records to show hip and spine speed.
“If you remember last year, that was in January. This year he’s already met that number,” Stroupe said. “That’s working on hip and spine speed and separation. It should transfer to power in the swing, but it’s not swing mechanics. It’s about spine speed, hip and shoulder separation. I feel like speed is the force that raises all tides. And to have speed in your spine, in your hips, it’s impossible not to swing the bat faster.”
Witt is enjoying the offseason and the work that comes with it, but he readily admits his excitement for Spring Training, when he’ll likely be competing for a spot on the Royals' Opening Day roster. Every workout is designed to help him win on the field -- and he’s ready to get back to it.
“I’m itching, man,” he said. “I’m itching.”