Josh VanMeter arrives for his daily training session wearing an old Fort Wayne TinCaps sweatshirt.
VanMeter, a former Norwell High School standout, is now in the Cincinnati Reds organization, but his professional baseball career took hold with the TinCaps after he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2013.
“If I threw away my ex-team clothes, I'd have nothing to wear,” VanMeter said. He was probably joking.
VanMeter's trainer, Dru Scott, sets him to work, and VanMeter drags a weight sled down a residential street in southwest Fort Wayne. It's an unusual sight. Loud, too. They say pro baseball is a grind. VanMeter's sled adds some volume to the grind.
“I'm just trying to get to the top,” VanMeter said. “I feel the way I ended the year, I'm pretty close to fulfilling my dream of being a big leaguer. I feel this offseason, I have to train even harder than I have any other one to make my dream come true.”
To do so, VanMeter has teamed up Scott Athletic Training. Dru Scott and his wife, Mandy, are co-owners of the business.
Dru Scott's in-season job is athletic trainer with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and he spent last season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. VanMeter, as mentioned before, is with the Reds organization. Their contrasting team affiliations add new meaning to the term cross training.
“It's a really good opportunity to work with somebody who's in professional baseball,” VanMeter said. “He not only knows the weight-lifting side but the athletic training side to keep me healthy during the offseason. I've never had somebody like that before.”
VanMeter, 23, played his final 98 games of the 2018 season with the Triple-A Louisville Bats, hitting .253 with 11 home runs, six triples, 25 doubles and compiled an OPS of .773. He played left field with some infield work, too. He was hitting .284 at Double-A Pensacola when he was promoted to the highest minor league level.
VanMeter had hoped to earn a call up to the Reds toward the end of the season, but he was also fighting a hamstring issue. He hit .314 with two homers and eight RBI during the last 10 games. The call didn't come.
“Anybody who finishes the way I finished, you're disappointed by it,” VanMeter said. “But it's just not my time yet.”
So how did a Reds prospect end up working out this offseason with a Pirates trainer? Connections.
Scott, an Indiana native, looks for familiar names on the opposing roster whenever the Indianapolis Indians start a series. When the Bats came to town, he saw VanMeter's hometown listed as Ossian on the Louisville roster.
Scott texted his wife, who is a Norwell alum. Her maiden name was Mandy Longenberger.
“I told him I know the name, but he's a lot younger than me,” Mandy Scott said.
Dru Scott eventually got a message to VanMeter, asking him about his offseason work and whether he might be interested in training with him. The Scotts had been setting the foundation for opening their athletic training business throughout the year. Mandy Scott serves as director of operations.
“I saw Josh a number of times and it seemed like he was hitting 1.000 against us,” Dru Scott said. “Toward the end of the year, as the business started to become more of a reality, I reached out to him and exchanged numbers. He came by, saw the facility, and said he'd like to train here instead of the YMCA or something else. It's a privilege to have him here.”
Scott has trained Josh Lindblom (spent time with five MLB teams, now in Korea) and the San Diego Padres' Clayton Richard in the offseason but is developing Scott Athletic Training to work with a variety of ages and skill levels. He is already training several high school-age athletes.
“Training kids keeps my brain fresh,” Scott said. “The goal is not to make money off these kids, it's to educate them: This is what a healthy lifestyle looks like and a workout looks like.”
The Scotts run the business out of their Fort Wayne home, where they have an area in their garage for weight training. Dru Scott was a three-sport athlete at Clinton Prairie High School and a baseball player at Manchester University, then worked his way up the Pirates' organization after starting as an athletic trainer in low Class A.
Scott, 33, and VanMeter share a common goal: They hope to reach the major leagues with their skills.
“It's a good thing to have Dru, somebody who is not only helping you but keeping your accountable,” VanMeter said. “He's going to give you the honest truth when it comes down to it, and that's something every professional athlete needs. You don't always want it, but it's something you need.”
Scott said it might seem unusual for a player from one team to work with an athletic trainer from another team, but the goals of all athletic trainers are to promote the healthiest, fittest athletes.
“Ask any athletic trainer, they want players to be as healthy as possible,” Scott said. “When we play Josh (in the regular season), we'll wish him the best. But we hope he goes 4-for-4 against somebody else.”
What: Scott Athletic Training
Who: Variety of ages and skill levels
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 260-415-8877